Upside down tomato plant

I had run out of space to grow more herbs and vegetables in my back garden recently and was on the lookout for ways to utilise the vertical space I’ve got. During the holidays I stumbled on a Topsy Turvy planter in Macro and thought it was a most excellent idea… it was just so costly!

Upside down gardening is nothing new, it has been around for ages, but with home-grown veggies becoming more prevalent and these ready-made planters being available, the concept has again become quite popular. Not only does upside down gardening save space, it also minimises pest and disease problems, eliminates weeding and makes harvesting easy. Tomatoes are a firm favourite, but you can also try squashes, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries and eggplants.

Making an upside down planter at home is great fun, turns out much cheaper than the store-bought ones and you can even do your bit for the environment by using materials you’ve got lying around already!

Here’s how I did it:

Materials needed:

  • Container – I used a 9l bucket, but you can use any suitable container that you have lying around.
  • Potting Soil – even better if you can use your own compost.
  • Tomato plants – I chose cherry tomatoes, we eat loads of them.
  • Basil plants – Basil is a good companion to tomatoes.
  • A scrap piece of fabric to line bottom of the container – I used hessian, but I believe coffee filters also do the job.
  • Wall bracket, ropes & nails – I wanted to hang up my bucket-o-plants opposite my existing vegetable beds against the wall.

Step 1 : Prepare the container

You are going to need to drill three equidistant small holes around the edge of the wide opening of the container – this is to thread the rope through that you’ll use to hang it up with later. You will also need to make a hole for your upside down plant in the middle of the narrower opening of the container. The hole must be large enough for the plant to fit through and of course, be wide enough for the maximum width you expect the main plant stem to become.

Step 2 : Line the bottom

Cut an X in the middle of the scrap piece of material you have (just large enough for the plant to go through) and line the bottom of the container with it. You are going to push the plants roots through the bottom of the hole in the container and through the lined piece of cloth.

Step 3 : Plant the plants

After securing the roots of the tomato plant through the bottom of the container, start filling with soil (this is quite awkward, unless you have someone to help you as you have to make sure that the upside down tomato plant is not hurt – i.e. no putting down the container!) Depending on which container you chose, you can plant up the top – I used basil plants as they are a great companion to tomatoes.

Step 4 : Hang ’em up
Thread through your rope, drill holes in your wall and attach the wall bracket…. or whatever other ideas you have for hanging up your new upside down garden.

And there you have it – me (Minette) with my newly planted and hung up upside down tomato planter (with basil companions). It really is as simple as that! Now we’ll monitor our little experiment and keep you up to date!

If this one works, the next one is definitely going to be strawberries with borage!

9 thoughts on “Upside down tomato plant

  1. Helen Ford

    January 4, 2010 at 4:31am

    Nice to have a face to go with your words. We are still enjoying your herbs here in NZ.
    Helen xx

  2. Nicci

    January 4, 2010 at 5:14am

    Love it! My husband has been telling me about this for a while now. As we just moved into a new place i am keen to get started. I just didnt realize it was so simple!!!

  3. minette

    January 4, 2010 at 11:24am

    Just for interest, this cost us R60 to make, but we bought everything from scratch:

    1. Bucket – R8
    2. Soil – R12
    3. Plants – R10.00
    4. Scrap piece of material – R0
    5. Wall bracket – R8.00
    6. Nylon cord – R8.00
    7. Wall screws – R10.00

    Costs can easily be reduced though:
    – use a container that you already have (some guy even uses 2l soda bottles!)
    – use your own home-made compost
    – use plants started from seeds
    – use alternate hardware goodies (that you may already have) for hanging up the pot

  4. Ralph

    February 23, 2010 at 8:12am

    I am a farmer and really struggled with growing tomotoes on the ground for a while. I did see the topsy turvy planter on the net… but your presentation just simplifies everything. I think I would go for this “BIG TIME”

    Thanks for your simplified process.

    Kindest Regards

  5. Billy

    March 2, 2010 at 10:18am

    I brought in a lot of these with the intention to market them as official appointed distributor, but found myself up against Homemark and Wantitall, who had brought them in without my knowing. Look at their websites for pricing, etc.
    They are great fun and work fantastically – we have had great success with tomato, chilli and pepper plants.
    If anyone is interested, I can supply at a great price in quantities of 12 units – around R100.00 each delivered in SA.
    This product is ideal for Farmer Markers / Flea Markets, etc.
    Happy growing

  6. Johan

    July 14, 2010 at 11:41am


    Please provide some contact details.


  7. leigh

    August 23, 2010 at 6:29pm

    Hi there! Going to try this tomorrow – also thought 150 for the tomato planters were a tad over the top.

    Could you give ideas for companions of peppers?
    Also, I would like to try strawberries as well, any companions for them? Would you say any herb would go nicely with tomatoes, peppers and strawberries?

  8. minette

    August 23, 2010 at 7:21pm

    Leigh, so great to hear that you’re going to try the upside down planter. It was great fun and I’ll definitely get to do it again this year! I must admit that my normal in-the-ground tomatoes yielded much more than the upside down one in the end, but it was still a fun exercise and I’m sure if I start early enough and side-dress the bucket adequately and not overwater it as I tended to last year, things may look up for my upside down tomato plants this time around.

    The best companion for strawberries is borage, they really grow beautifully together and peppers can be companioned with Basil, Marigold, Marjoram, Tansy or Tomato.

    Enjoy the planting and let us know how it goes.

    Happy Herbing!

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