Upside Down Tomato Planter

Learn how to make a simple upside down tomato planter.

The advertising hype makes it sound so simple. Just buy a kit to grow tomatoes upside down, follow the directions, sit back, and wait for the harvest. Unfortunately, like most things that sound too good to be true, there are hidden disadvantages to such kits.

Garden fresh tomatoes are one of summer's treasures
For example, the hanging containers do not retain enough moisture for tomatoes, which are heavy feeders and need lots of water to set fruit. The best way to prevent disappointment is by making your own upside down tomato planter so you can bypass the small container in favorite of a larger one.

Install a Hanging Post

One four by four post, one four by four beam, and a set of post hole diggers are all that is necessary to prepare a place to hang the planters. Choose a location that receives at least eight hours of sun each day and is close to a hose or other water source so you do not have to bucket water or move the planters.

Hanging post for growing upside down tomatoes
Dig a hole and secure the one four by four into the ground. Position the post at a comfortable height so you can reach up with the hose to water the tomatoes. Use a lag bolt to affix the other four by four to the top of the first post. Hang a tomato planter on each end to balance the structure and avoid the extra step of installing braces to support the top beam.

Make the Upside DownTomato Planter

You will need:

  • Two five-gallon buckets with lids (restaurants and bakeries give these away)
  • Hole saw
  • 50-liter bag of Coco Coir or other soilless growth medium
  • Hardened off, ready to transplant tomato seedlings

Here is what you do:

  1. Drill a one-and-one-half inch hole in the center of the bucket.
  2. Remove the seedlings from the pot.
  3. Gently brush off some of the soil clinging to the roots.
  4. Insert the roots into the hole in the bottom of the bucket.
  5. Recruit a helper to support the seedling, and fill the bucket to within one inch of the top with the growth medium.
  6. Water until the growth medium is damp but not soaked.
  7. Cover the top of the bucket with a lid to enhance water retention, and slide the handle of the bucket onto one end of the post.
  8. Repeat with another bucket.

Be careful to keep the post supported until the weight is balanced by hanging both planters rather than just the one.

Handy Tips for Success

Use these helpful tips to ensure a bountiful harvest from your hanging tomato plants.

Use a soilless growth medium rather than soil from your yard, garden, or potting soil because these encourage plants to form better, stronger root systems. In addition, they offer high water retention properties. This helps avoid problems like cracking or abnormally small fruit due to inadequate moisture levels.

Bush or cherry tomato varieties, also called determinate varieties, are the best choice for growing tomatoes in containers. Remember the entire weight of the plant and fruit is hanging from the plant’s root. Some varieties to consider are:

  • Best Bush
  • Razzleberry Hybrid
  • Sweet Baby Girl Hybrid
  • Tumbling Tom (yellow or red)

The only limits on your productivity are hanging space and time constraints. Making the planters is easy and quick; you just need a sunny place to hang them. Enjoy tasty, fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes all season long for the price of a few minutes of time to build an upside down tomato planter and some water.


Author’s personal experience growing tomatoes upside down
Images Copyright 2012 Donna Cosmato All rights reserved