Grow an Upside-down Tomato Plant

My coworker gave me two cherry tomato baby plants last year. I didn't know what to do with them since I've never planted them before. I remembered watching a Topsy Turvy TV commercial so I thought, "Hey, why not try growing the tomato plants upside-down?" I didn't want to spend $20 on Topsy Turvy, so I went around the house to get ideas and decided on a bucket as a pot. I didn't want to spend $10 for a 5 gallon bucket and lid at Lowe's. Then an idea hit me as I was walking by the bakery aisle in my local grocery store. I could check with the employees and see if I could get some of their empty frosting buckets. Initially they were surprised at my request but they gave me not one or two but 4 buckets! I found out that they would clean the empty frosting buckets and recycle them. They were glad to give away for a good cause :)

So I went home happily with the buckets and cleaned them properly. Since I don't own a garden and accessible soil, I bought a bag of potting soil from Lowe's (I use Miracle-Gro potting soil. So far, my plants in the pots/buckets seem to grow really well).

Below are the instructions for growing your very own upside-down tomato plants! I've used the same procedures and successfully grown cherry tomato plants for two years in a row.

1. Grow your baby tomato plant until it is about 5 to 6 inches tall

13. When the plant has grown to approximately a foot tall, find a spot in your garden where you can hang the bucket and get plenty of sun (I use a clothes-line bar or hook from a ceiling)

14. Gently flip the bucket so it is now right-side up. The tomato plant is now facing towards the ground. You may need to fill up the bucket with more soil. To do that, open the lid and pour in the potting soil

15. Your plant can now grow happily in the sun and with plenty of water (don't over-water)!! You may want to check the soil level occasionally as it is food for your tomato plant. Ensure the handle of the bucket is sturdy at all times to avoid the bucket from falling onto the ground and breaking the plant

It's fascinating to watch tomato plants to grow. Within a day, you will observe the plant grow right side up. The vines and leaves will automatically face towards the direction of the sun. If the plant is shriveling, it needs more water.

The tomato plant will start producing tomatoes after several weeks. The plant first flowers, then produces tiny, green cherry tomatoes that eventually grow bigger. The cherry tomatoes will turn red as they mature and ready to be picked for eating! Freshly picked cherry tomatoes are delicious and very sweet. They are great for salads, stewing, baking, grilling and stir-frying.

A cup of cherry tomatoes contains 27 calories while 1 ripe plum tomato contains 11 calories. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and fiber and have good amounts of vitamins A and B, potassium, iron and phosphorus.

Check out my pictures from my very own upside-down tomato plants!

2. Find and clean a 5-gallon bucket and its lid

3. Drill or cut a 2 inches in diameter hole in the center of the lid

4. Drill or cut a 2 inches in diameter hole in the center of the bottom of the bucket

5. Find two coffee filters. Place one filter over each hole, making sure both filters are placed in the insides of the lid and bucket. These holes are used as drainage when watering the plants

6. With the filter in place, pour in the potting soil until it completely fills up the bucket

7. Cover the filled bucket with the lid. Ensure it is tightly secured

8. Flip the bucket so that it is now upside-down

9. Remove the filter through the hole in the bottom of the bucket

10. Dig out a hole in the soil that it is deep enough for the baby tomato plant's roots (3 inches in diameter). Save the soil for the next step

11. Gently remove the baby plant from its original container. Transfer carefully through the hole in the bottom of the bucket and into the soil. Fill up the hole with the soil from step 10

12. Place the upside-down bucket in a sunny area, safely away from deers and bugs. Water the plant everyday. Tomato plant grows very well with plenty of water

(Top to bottom) Flowering tomato plant, green cherry tomatoes and freshly picked red cherry tomatoes with a couple of Thai chiles

Date: 7/25/10


USDA National Nutrient Database