Topsy Turvy Planter?

organic49May 27, 2007

Has anyone tried tomatoes in this upside down planter? What tomato variety? I,m wanting to give it a try,but it onlt holds 20 quarts of lite weight soil. Very interested if anyone has had a decent harvest. Thanks :)

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green_devo(7b, V. Island, BC)

I haven't tried them but they look like a fantastic invention!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 11:22AM
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I grew Anaheim Chile peppers in a topsy turvy last year .. it did okay. I think it would have done better if it had more sun.

This year I'm growing tomatoes in my topsy turvys.

There are pictures on my blog:

Here is a link that might be useful: My SFG Blog

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 2:56PM
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I am sorta bored and going through the older posts online... anyway, I've done the upside down tomato thing this year and everything seems to be going along nicely.

I have seen the topsy turvey thing and it has some nice points, but it seems small to me. I did mine with 5 gallon buckets. I wrote it up on my page if you are interested:

See the link below, and then look for tomato links on the side. (the link at the very bottom, not the gallery link just below here).

The gallery with photos is also online at

They are much bigger than the photos now, and are producing a respectful number of tomatos.

Here is a link that might be useful: My garden page

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 4:01PM
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Impressive setup. I'd love to see photos of your plants in full production.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 10:00PM
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I hope to have some up in the near future. The recent problems are blossom end rot on the plum tomatos, and I think my water from the drip hoses is messing up the leafs.

Dang nabit

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 3:26PM
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I planted cherry tomatoes in mine and they are doing well. You do need to water often about every other day and even more when it's hot. Water seems to just go right through it, so you need to wait a bit and water again. Finding a place to hang it was a challenge. It's fairly heavy when finished, you need to hang it on something strong like a 2 x 4 and NOT a plant hanger. This was a project for one of my kids.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 3:09AM
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My daughter gave me a planter for Mother's Day. I was quite sceptical, but have been delighted! I planted a cherry variety, and have harvested over 100, with at least 200 ready to ripen soon. It does require a lot of watering on hot summer days sometimes twice a day. It is heavy but is hooked to a pressure treated beam of our deck. I am really impressed with those who have made their own planters with 5 gallon paint buckets, but I don't think I'll get that ambitious!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 5:30PM
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This is from my garden blog, but its specific to this topic, so I am reposting it here. Sadly.


Well, I have come to the end of the season for my hanging vegetable experiment. How did it go? Not as well as I would have hoped or expected. My previous experiment with a small grape tomato plant in a hanging basket upside down had gone well enough. I do plan on trying it again next year. Ive given great amounts of thought to what went wrong.

I think all of my problem revolve around water.

Too much water all over the place

I had hung a soaker hose above my seven buckets and would turn it on full blast for a little while each each day. This caused a few issues I think Our city water cascaded all over the leaves of the plants any time we watered. There is a lot of crap they add into the water - chlorine, flouride, communism, errr scratch that last one - thats covered under floride. Anyway, its very bad for the leaves on plants (proven by my neighboor who delicately waters under his, versus I who started out the season spraying everything). The majority of the water in the bucket would drip out the bottom and roll down the tomato stem. This actually caused one of the hot pepper plants stems to rot away.

I decided about mid season when they stopped growing like crazy that I should stop watering with the soaker hose and do it by hand, which leads to my next problem.

Not enough water

Getting something to stand on to get into the top of the buckets to water was kind of a pain, so it rapidly feel by the wayside and the plants definately did not get watered regularly. I tended to water only when they looked like they needed it (which any good gardener knows is at the point where the damage has already been done).

Improvements for next year to the system

I need to find a better way to water. We plan on putting in a rainwater collection system (probably a hundred gallons or so) which will help with the hard city water. Distributing this to the plants will be tougher. I may try a drip hose, but will most likely try to do the watering by hand and just get on a routine with it.

Draining in the 5 gallon buckets has to be improved. I will be drilling several small holes around the bottom of the bucket to allow some draining out from places not around the stem itself. I also used wax paper to help retain the plant while it was getting settled. Next year will be landscaping fabric. Possibly enough to keep the stem off the bottom of the bucket (a few layers). The topsy turvey system accomplishes this with foam.

Deep planting.I plan on starting the rootball up higher in the bucket so more roots can grow out of the stem that is buried in the soil.

Dont pick the first few buds off. I had heard that this helped the plant to force more buds. Well even if it does - its not worth the I-told-you-soÂs from your wife when the plants donÂt do well.

Less crowding. I pushed them close together to get maximum effectiveness from the soaker hose. But they all tended to grow into each other. With no soaker hose we can leave them farther apart - more room, better airflow, more sun.

Some things must have went wellÂ

The deer netting over the top and down the sides worked wonderful

I will say that the ground cover I planted on the top seemed to do well, and the flowers made the whole thing look a little nicer.

The iron work held up wonderfully and the whole thing survived some very windy days.

Sigh. More to come if I come up with it.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 9:40PM
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Upside down tomato plants in th news!

Well sort of. A hot air balloon crashed in the yard behind me (everyone was fine except the lawn) and the local NBC affiliate came down, and sure enough there was a nice panning out shot of my tomato plants.

Too bad they did not look better.

I guess that was there 15 seconds of fame.

Drip hoses for sure next year, or something similarly autowatering...

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 3:07PM
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You know, I sat here thinking about this for a bit... wouldn't these upside down planters suffer from the problems of waterlogging and airflow at the bottom that Al describes in the container forum? Seems to me if that issue could be solved, maybe less issues would be had with these kinds of plantings. (Read Al's stuff over there, just do a search for "Al's Mix" here, for the issues.)

I like this idea. I have five big 6' tall, 4' wide arches, they are 4' deep of 4"x4" cattle panel, and I trellis stuff up each side. But the inside of the arches is open. (Which is nice for picking stuff at harvest time.) They are ideal for hanging stuff, like potted plants. It would be kind of cool if I could hang a couple peppers and tomatoes in the middle of the arches (which get full sun even if covered in vines from the sides) too.

I just don't really grok the logic of how these planters work. In theory, I can't think of how that process would *not* cause over-moisture at the bottom (which would affect the stem) even if it was over-dry at the top, or how you could avoid that every watering done in any practical way would douse the whole plant.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 6:03AM
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Im sorry to say that I was dumb enough to try one on a lark this past week. The water in the container constantly dripped down the plant (Yes, water is subject to gravity!) and kept both the stem and leaves drenched in dirty, soil-containing water 24 hours per day. And anyone who has ever grown tomatoes knows that the one thing you do not want to do is keep the leaves and stems of your plants constantly soaked in dirty water. The healthy little plant I placed in this ridiculous container lasted only about 3 days before dissolving into a little ball of dead, green goo. How the heck this company can get away with selling a product so patently bad and ill advised is beyond me. For me, this worthless little emperor has not a STITCH of clothing! Please spread the wordif you buy this product you are very likely doing nothing more than flushing your hard-earned money down the toilet.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 1:44PM
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I'm growing mine in a bucket!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 3:25PM
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Does anyone have ideas for hanging. My eaves have no wood behind the siding and the screws pull out with the weight of regular flower pots. These are considerable heavier and I was thinking of a 2x4 wooden hanging system, anyone with ideas?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 8:45AM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

Others have echoed my experience. This is a novelty more than anything. I made my own bucket but they really did need watering EVERYDAY.

Plus you have find a place to hang the bucket from. Then choose a variety of tomato that will not grow all the way to the ground or why bother?

If you have no place else to grow a tomato give this a try. I think they just grow better when planted in the ground.

Below is another link to the upsidedown idea.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 7:43AM
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I tried growing tomatoes upside down once. It was my first attempt at growing anything. We bought 4 5 gallon buckets filled them with soil recommended by the nursery, and hung them on a plant hangar thingy. We didn't have much success. The vines grew like crazy - Jack and the Beanstalk crazy. I was constantly on the lookout for a giant yelling fee fi fo fum. Despite all that growth we didn't get a single bloom. I finally figured out that the soil had too much nitrogen in it, but by that time I'd pretty much lost interest in the plants, so I didn't try to correct the soil.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 8:23AM
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jan_webster(DFW TX)

I hung mine on an old swingset (where the swing used to be)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 3:51PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

The trick is choosing a plant and a place to hang that is high enuff for the plant but YOU can still reach it to water it everyday. For many that may mean a step-stool.

So, If you are under 6ft tall or have to rely on someone else to do the daily watering, I think you should prob plant in the ground.

This really is a novelty more than anything. And you can make you own from a bucket rather than pay $20 plus S&H for the hangar. Then still have to pay for the plant AND the potting soil. Some pricey tomatoes ;-)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 6:10PM
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