Growing Tomatoes Upside Down

There are some clear advantages to growing tomatoes upside down. For starters, gardeners can skip the time-consuming staking and caging of the tomato plants. Because the circulation of air pollinates and sets the fruits better and quicker, upside down tomatoes mature faster.

Since these tomatoes do not require a lot of space, they can be grown anywhere by anyone. Let’s look at some other benefits (and challenges) of growing tomatoes in containers.

Homegrown tomatoes are best

Advantages of Growing Tomatoes Upside Down

What is the advantage of growing upside down plants? For starters, the plants are mobile – they can be moved to shade during hot spells, or conveniently located close to cooking areas for a kitchen garden. Plants experience less stress as well as less exposure to slugs and other common garden pests. There is no weeding or tilling of the soil to be done, and pruning the suckers is quick and easy. If you have limited or no garden spaces but crave farm-fresh tomatoes, this gardening technique could be perfect for you.

Disadvantages of Upside Down Tomato Planters

Here are some reasons to avoid growing tomatoes upside down:

  1. They are labor intensive. Do you really want to spend a major portion of your day hauling water to thirsty tomato plants?
  2. The containers are heavy and hard to move.
  3. A special hook or support may be needed to hang the pots.
  4. You can grow only one plant per container.
  5. You must check the base of the plant frequently for limited or root bound root systems.
  6. Transplanting is not an option if the plant becomes root bound.
  7. Water retention in most hanging containers is poor, and the plants dry out quick than in a garden

Tips for Container Gardening Upside Down

The best way to start when growing tomatoes in containers is to choose plants carefully. Select small determinate or bush type varieties, and opt for seedlings versus starting the tomatoes from seed. Making a wise selection at the beginning of the season may avoid disappointment over a failed or less-than-anticipated harvest. Some time-tested varieties are:

  • Bush Celebrity (red bush type)
  • Roma (plum tomato; not as sweet as other varieties
  • Tomato Tumbler (sweet red cherry tomato
  • Tomato Garden Pearl (self-branching bush variety)
  • Tomato Yellow Pygmy (compact dwarf cherry tomato)
  • Window Box Roma (red, pear-shaped tomato)
  • Micro Tom (the world’s smallest tomato)
  • Basket Boy Yellow or Basket Boy Red (yellow or red cherry tomato)

Plant the variety of your choice in at least a five-gallon hanging pot, and make sure it has good drainage. Organic growth mediums that include a slow releasing organic fertilizer provide adequate food for container tomatoes. Ask for advice at the local farm center or nursery and choose a growth medium with moisture retention properties as this overcomes the water retention problem and may save the plants from stress.

Watering and Caring for Your Upside Down Plants

Growing tomatoes upside down is fun but challenging!

Consistent watering is the key to high tomato yields and juicy luscious fruits. Check the container at least twice a day – morning and night – and test the soil for dampness. If you can poke a finger into the soil and it feels dry, water the plants immediately. For best results, water the plants at your regular mealtimes. In other words, when you feed yourself, ‘feed’ your tomatoes.

Give your tomato plants plenty of sunlight
Prune the plants frequently to increase yields and produce larger fruits. Because tomatoes grown upside down set fruit and mature faster than garden-grown tomatoes, examine them daily for new growth and be ruthless with pruning the suckers. Pruning well and often also protects the plants from disease. The leaves dry quicker, resist mold better, and the plants are healthier.

Whether growing tomatoes upside down or in the conventional manner, nothing compares to the sweetness and taste of a fresh picked tomato. For even more pleasure, try some tasty fried green tomatoes. Be sure to fry them in healthy oil, like coconut oil, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.


The author has been a hobbyist gardener for over thirty years. She enjoys experimenting with different varieties of flowers, vegetables and fruits on her three-acre homestead.

Images Copyright 2012 Donna Cosmato All rights reserved