Growing Upside Down Tomatoes

Elvis Elvis

Growing tomatoes upside down seems to be one of the more inventive methods of container gardening I have seen out there. This type of Container tomato growing can actually yield good crops, and when done correctly, they have even been seen to improve condition and yield over conventionally grown plants.

The increase in productivity seems to be due to an increase in circulation of air around the stem, leaves & flowers when hanging in the air. There is more uptake of nutrients and water due to feeding the bottom of the roots and less propensity toward disease as they avoid contact with the garden soil.
I think my favourite part of growing tomatoes upside down has to be not having to stake them ! When taking advantage of gravity, you can simply let the plant grow downwards, take off the laterals as normal and the weight of the plant is distributed evenly through all the branches.

Growing Upside Down Tomatoes

It is possible to grow many types of tomatoes upside down, but the best varieties will be the dwarfing type with high yields or shrub types. Indeterminate types can be used but be prepared to reinforce the container due to weight of the plant. Another method to halt the downward growth is by pruning out the growing tip allowing the plant to grow more shoots laterally.
It is best to keep all types of upside down tomatoes pruned to a more manageable size and these plants will be more healthy, bear better sized fruits and actually ripen faster.

A few varieties that are more suitable for being grown upside down are Early Girl, Sun Gold, Bush Celebrity, and Pink Ping Pong.

Building an Upside Down Tomato Planter

The best home planter for upside down tomatoes is a 20L container (approx 5gallons) – usually a bucket with a metal handle. Places such as bulk buy shops purchase food items such as honey, malt, golden syrup and milk powder in these and often they will give you their spares or sell them cheaply. These are ideal due to being designed for over 20-30kg (40-65lb) of product. Usually you will want a light but quality growing mix to plant into. An ideal mixture would be 50% Peat or sphagnum moss, 30% compost or potting mix and 20% perlite (or even kitty litter which is cheaper often !!) This type of mixture will retain water well, but be light and fertile as well as having a good ph range which Tomatoes favour.

Here are the 6 easy steps to building a planter for growing tomatoes upside down:

Drill a hole about 7-8cm (3inches) in diameter into the bottom of the bucket. If you don’t have a drill handy it may be easier just to carefully use a knife to cut the plastic. I used an old plastic 20L bucket and roughly cut the hole ! –>

Prepare your tomato plant by removing all but its top set of (big) leaves.

Hang the bucket right side up with its handle somewhere low so you can reach to the bottom inside. Remove the plant from its container and carefully stick the plant through drilled hole so your tomato sticking out from the bottom of the bucket (upside down). Hold the plant in place so that there is about 3cm (1inch) of stem sticking out of the bottom.

With one hand holding the plant, start packing peat or sphagnum inside the bucket around the stem all the way up to its roots so the soil to be put in later does not fall out. Evenly distribute the moss around the bucket, and carefully let go of the plant, making sure that it’s securely anchored inside the bucket.

Fill the bucket with the growing mixture, fertiliser and compost until about an inch from the top.

Hang the bucket at its final destination where it will live and water thoroughly. Most tomato varieties will grow to at least 5 feet, so keep this height in mind when choosing where to hang the plant. Once the Tomato has grown to a considerable size, you probably shouldn’t try to move the planter around, as that will disrupt root formation and could break a few branches.

Approximately 5 days after transplanting, fertilise from the top with a water-soluble fertilizer like A & B hydroponic solution or maybe a liquid tomato fertilizer.

And there you go !! a quick and economical tomato plant grown upside down. Like all container vegetables, make sure to water and fertilise it in regular intervals.

Mulching on the top of the planter is also an excellent idea as it prevents evaporation and water loss. Conifer or composting mulch is the most popular, but you can also cut up a black rubbish bag and us it to cover the opening of the bucket.

Tie the bag around the bucket with a piece of string, and cut an opening on the bag where water and fertilizers can enter. Although, I simply cut a hole in the top of the lid which allows cover and air flow. You could also have auto watering containers that slowly drip into the plant.