Do you love fresh tomatoes but don’t have the space for a full garden? Even if you only have a small patio, you can grow gallons of sweet tomatoes right at home. Growing tomatoes upside down enables you to harvest garden-fresh tomatoes no matter how much space you have.
It might seem daunting at first, but this article will walk you through how to grow tomatoes upside down the easy way.
How to Grow Tomatoes Upside Down
Growing tomatoes upside down is not as difficult as it appears at first glance. First, select a bright location with excellent air circulation. You will need a strong support like a beam or post that can hold at least 50 pounds. You can build or purchase a vertical gardening rack if you don’t have anything secure enough to support this weight.
A sturdy garden hook is an essential part of how to grow tomatoes upside down. Once your upside-down tomato planter is filled with moist soil, it can weigh over 50 pounds. After the plant matures and the vines cascade to the ground, the plump, juicy tomatoes will further weigh down your planter.
After you install a garden hook that can support the entire weight of your mature tomato plants, you’ll need to prepare the planter. There are countless options for upside-down tomato planters. A simple five-gallon bucket is the most popular choice for backyard gardeners when growing tomatoes upside down.
You might also explore decorative containers, special upside-down planters, and fabric pots. If you are making your own upside-down tomato planter, choose a form of tomato container made from plastic or fabric as they are lighter than ceramic and metal.
You’ll need to prepare your planter for growing tomatoes upside down. Start by cutting a three-inch hole in the bottom of the container with a sharp utility knife. This opening will allow tomato plants to emerge and flourish in the sun.
You may consider covering the hole with a piece of screen or decorative fabric. This can help ensure that soil does not fall out of the bottom of your planter. Simply attach the material to the planter with waterproof double-sided sticky tape or glue, then cut a cross slit over the entire opening. This will allow your tomato plants to grow unimpeded through the hole while containing loose soil.
As your tomato plants mature, they will naturally try to grow upward towards the sun. To prevent crooked growth and weak stems, you’ll want to wait until your tomato plants are around a foot tall before transplanting them into an upside-down container.
When your young tomato plants are ready for transplanting, carefully remove them from the soil by gently loosening the roots with your fingers. Start around three inches from the plant and dig deep to wiggle the root ball free and allow it to smoothly slide out.
Once the root ball is free, you can gently press it into the hole on the bottom of your upside-down growing container. Fill the rest of the container with damp potting soil. Ensure you use lightweight potting soil instead of other garden soil, as it is lighter and will put less stress on your garden hook.
Water your upside-down tomato plants frequently, as the improved air circulation will cause the soil to dry out more rapidly than traditional growing methods. Check the growing hole daily for moist soil, and add water if it feels too dry.
You may also add a companion plant to the top of the container. Some crops that are ideal for growing with tomatoes include basil, lettuce, spinach, and alliums like onions, chives, and garlic. These companion plants can help protect your tomato plant from common pests and diseases. Avoid planting potatoes or brassicas, like cabbage and kale, as these do not make good companions for tomato plants.
Benefits of Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
There are significant benefits to growing tomatoes upside down. Of course, the most obvious benefit is how much space you can save. Even if you only have a small patio or a windowsill, you can still grow tomatoes upside down easily.
Another notable benefit to growing tomatoes upside down is the prevention of common diseases. Most diseases infect tomato plants from the soil it is planted in. If you only use clean potting soil, you will limit many contaminants and soil-borne pathogens.
Growing tomatoes upside down offers natural freedom from pests, as common tomato pests have a more difficult time reaching your tomato plants. Any insects that don’t fly will likely be unable to infest your tomatoes.
Once you understand how to grow tomatoes upside down, you will notice how direct sunlight and improved air circulation can lead to exceptional fruit production. Vining indeterminate tomatoes can exhibit healthier stem growth and more delicious tomatoes at harvest when grown upside down. A mature tomato plant growing right-side-up needs a lot of support to keep the tomatoes spaced out and off the ground.
Drawbacks of Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
There are some drawbacks to growing tomatoes upside down. Primarily, you’ll need to carefully consider which tomato variety you are growing. Typically you’ll want to stick with smaller tomato varieties like cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes. This reduces the overall weight of your upside-down tomato plant, which puts less stress on the garden hook.
Large tomatoes like beefsteak varieties and plump canning tomatoes can potentially break stems and vines on an upside-down tomato plant. If you are set on growing a large tomato variety upside down, you’ll need to look into a vertical trellis.
Any sturdy trellis netting should work for this application. Simply secure the trellis around the base of your upside-down planter and let it cascade to the ground. You can attach the netting around the perimeter of your container or just halfway.
Once your tomato vines start creeping down towards the ground, you can gently attach them to the trellis with tomato tape or string. This will provide extra support for larger tomatoes which can help you avoid costly waste from the fruits falling off the vine or breaking stems.
Be careful growing tomatoes upside down when you live in a windy climate. You will need to pay special attention to how secure the garden hook and support are. You should also consider hanging a trellis netting to protect delicate vines from snapping in high winds.
How to Care for Upside-Down Tomatoes
When learning how to grow tomatoes upside down, you probably have many questions about caring for an upside-down tomato plant. Much of the care is similar to any other way you’d grow healthy tomatoes. Are you new to gardening in general? Check out our guides on how to grow tomatoes and how to grow tomatoes in pots to get started.
Upside-down tomato plants require more water than other planting methods. Since the entire top of the planter is exposed to the air, the moisture in the soil evaporates more quickly. You should give your upside-down tomato plants around two inches of water each day and ensure the soil is moist down to the hole at the base.
The built-in drainage hole allows excess water to flow freely from the soil. However, you should still avoid over-watering your upside-down tomato plants. You also want to ensure the soil is well fertilized so your tomato plants have enough nutrients. Consider adding extra calcium to prevent blossom-end rot.
A Guide to Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
Growing tomatoes upside down looks like a challenging project reserved for experienced gardeners only. After reading this guide, you should understand that growing upside-down tomatoes is relatively easy. As long as you have a sturdy support and a sunny spot, you can harvest fresh tomatoes no matter where you live.
Excited for more tomato content? Then visit our tomato page for growing tips, comprehensive guides, and tasty recipes!
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Max Loel is a seasoned writer with a unique life journey that spans across diverse landscapes.
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