How To Make An Upside Down Tomato Planter

Have you heard the buzz about these upside down tomato planters? You can buy pricey containers and plastic bags in an effort to try this inverted growing technique, but here’s a really inexpensive and, I think, more attractive method than the other DIY how-to’s I’ve seen.

Instructions for Making an Upside Down Tomato Planter

First, find yourself a large (I used a 12") plastic hanging planter and a tomato plant. I chose a smaller fruit producing variety. Tomato Chello, specifically.

First step of 'how to make an upside down tomato planter'

Using a 2" hole saw, drill a hole in the bottom of the pot. This will be where the plants comes out of the upside down tomato planter.

Making An Upside Down Tomato Planter: drill a hole in the bottom of the pot.



Place a piece of fabric over the bottom of the pot. I used a bit of leftover landscaping fabric. This will keep the dirt from washing through the hole when you water. Cut through your fabric a few inches, or enough to feed your tomato plant’s root ball through.

Making an Upside Down Tomato Planter: Cover the bottom of the pot with fabric

Feed your tomato plant through the hole, upside down, of course. Either hang the pot or have someone hold it while you use one hand to support the plant and the other to fill the pot with potting soil.

Making an Upside Down Tomato Planter: Have someone hold the pot for you while you fill it with potting soil

Tamp the dirt around the root ball.

For a finishing touch, plant herbs in the top of your pot. I chose marjoram, oregano and Italian parsley.

Making an Upside Down Tomato Planter: The finished product. Pretty nice! And grows mighty fine tomatoes!

By the next day, my tomato plant was trying to right itself in an attempt to grow toward the sun. As this is the first time I’ve tried this technique, I’m going to assume its normal plant behavior and am awaiting a tasty crop of upside down tomatoes.

Decorating Your Upside Down Tomato Planter

Personally, I don't think any decoration is needed (it's a plant, people! it's already pretty!). But if you do want to spruce up your upside down planter, consider wrapping it in adhesive vinyl paper (like contact paper), painting the outside of the pot, or even etching a design into the pot using a rotary tool.


What Type of Soil to Use?

I know from experience that good soil is the most important factor in getting your tomatoes to grow big and healthy. In fact, our boulevard plants, when compared to our neighbors, are much bigger and have many more flowers (which later will become tomatoes), even though the location, sunlight, and water conditions are basically the same. Why? Because we were careful to amend our soil before planting. 

Tomatoes like to grow in slightly acidic soil (around 6 - 7 pH). After checking your soil pH with a simple kit (you can buy it at the garden center), you'll need to add lime if the soil is too acidic, or sulfur if the pH is too high (too basic). Make sure to add some organic matter (compost) each year, and that the soil isn't too dense (won't drain), or too light and fluffy (drains too fast). We've found gypsum and peat moss are great additives for getting the soil structure just right.

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Nancy on Jun 19, 2016:

I love the idea but I'm wondering if that is enough soil for the tomato plant I have tried the brand name planter topsy turvy with mixed results

Ken/S.Wales/uk on Mar 26, 2013:

Regarding water retention rather than using landscape fabric i use a disposable nappy/dyper as it has water absorbency crystals in its makeup and will hold water at te root area.

gabriel on Jan 28, 2013:

Ann, thank you!!! thanks a lot

Ann on Jan 28, 2013:

Garbriel, the name of the iron hanger to hang the plants on is called a Shepherds Hook and can be bought @ places like wal mart, lowes and  Home Depot.  Hope this is helpful.


gabriel on Jan 12, 2013:

This post is verry old but still usefull and inspiring!! Please if you could tell me more about the iron hanger that you used to hang the pot.

it looks really strong, does it has any legs, like a tripod or it is just stuck into the ground?


thank you for your answer

jasonboldny on Jul 23, 2012:

Wow what a inspiring product! Can it really handle the weight, it's amazing, will try! Thanks for the tip, it looks amazing! PEX Universe - http://www.pexuniverse.com/

frankysportfolio on May 30, 2012:

this is so much fun! growing tomato upside down...what a neat idea! this could be a great alternative for people who dont have much room in their apartment or small living space and yet still want to grow their own vegetables right! We did a project similar but instead we planted ours vertically (http://www.eieihome.com/blog/do-it-yourself-vertical-gardens.html). Let us know how this will work for you!

Rose, Fine Craft Guild on Apr 22, 2012:

on this topic of intercrop: basil is a good plant to plant side by side with tomatoes. they like eachother and help eachother grow. i'm not a botanist, but that's what I understand, at least.

Linda on Apr 04, 2012:

I want to try this with cucumbers this year. Last year we had tomatoes upside down but they did not produce well. I am also going to buy a small bag of manure to mix with the soil this year. We had the farm bought kind last year but still no luck with the tomatoes.

Blaro on Mar 29, 2012:

I am trying to use up the old Giant Icecream buckets my kids get from walmart. Man they eat a lot of icecream. Anyway so far so good

Claudia on Jan 27, 2012:

May need to try this! Looks easy and fun!

Anonymous on Nov 26, 2011:

Mine has been hanging upside down for weeks but has got a candy cane curve as it doesnt like being upside down.  Any way to stop this next time I grow tomatoes the same way?

Teri on Jul 07, 2010:

You may wish to try putting some vermiculite, or perlite, in with the compost. This has been key in terms of improving my crop. It helps with moisture retention, which can be a problem with an upside down planter. More information on this tip at practical growing tomatoes 



Kaz Vorpal on May 20, 2010:

The herbs on the top do not compete significantly for nutrients. In fact, the best way to garden is to intercrop, growing companion plants right up against each other, the way plants grow in the wild.

In fact, the herbs at the top will reduce the likelyhood of pest insects finding and attacking the tomato plant, both by covering up its scent, and reducing the chances of the insects landing on the right plant. 

Insects home in on a crop by scent, but once they're in the vicinity, they chose any random green object nearby to land on. They can't tell the tomato from a basil plant, or even a piece of green paper or plastic, by sight. They will try to land on the tomato plant several times, and if they don't succeed, they give up and look elsewhere.

Jennia on May 07, 2010:

We did this last year. Instead of buying the containers we obtained used frosting bins from local food stores. One store gave them away for free and one store charge $.99. 


The only problem is that only one of the 5 varieties of tomatoes we planted did well (and the label went missing.) We also tried bell peppers and they weren't very happy with the arrangement either.


We are just in the process of planting our garden now. Before heading to the nursery, I think I'll see if I can find some details online about which tomato plants work best. I don't have any photos on my blog but I'll try to add some and then link to them.

JN Boston on Mar 30, 2010:

I wonder if the herbs are taking nutrients out of the soil.  Would you get better tomatoes if the herbs weren't sharing the tight quarters and leeching the nutrients?

chris and his upside down tomato on Mar 22, 2010:

Hi!  Inspiring post.  After reading this (and a couple of other similar posts), I did my first upside down tomato earlier tody.  I'm not sure what landscaping fabric is though so I just used the normal hole of a pot.  This early, I'm afraid I may have too little a hole for my plant to grow.  Check it out too when you can.

Anonymous on Mar 21, 2010:


Saw you were going to use the 3 liter pop bottles.. I used to get them at the $ store but they quit carrying them around here... where are you getting them. I have been looking for them for a long time. Thought they may have quit making them!


DIY Maven on Mar 18, 2010:

HalfBBaked: You've been very busy! You're going to have a veritable ORCHARD of veggie trees!! :)

HalfBBaked on Mar 18, 2010:

oops forgot I have a few stumps in my yard that I welded plates to the bottom of the pipes and am going to use lag bolts  to fasten them

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