Friday, May 1, 2009

Topsy Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter Experiment

As I mentioned in a post a few days ago, when I put in my raised bed square foot gardens, I wanted to try a variety of tomatoes and so, once I ran out of room in the raised beds, I had a few tomato plants left. I decided to try the tomato plant in a bag method, which used 2 of those Big Beef leftover buddies, but I still had three Big Beef tomato plants left.

We have all seen these upside down tomato planters on television or in gardening magazines, and being the Amazon freak that I am, I was thrilled to see that they carried them! {I told y'all I am crazy for Amazon these days.} With my Prime Membership I knew I'd have it in 2 days with free shipping, and it wasn't very expensive, so I thought, what the heck. There are a couple of different brands out there - the one I got is the Topsy Turvy Upside-Down Tomato Planter. Let's give it a try and see what happens!

{Note} If you don't want to invest in a pre-made product, why not try making your own! Here are some great DIY sites showing you how to make your own upside down tomato planter.

{since I'm only doin' one upside down planter to try it, that's too much work for me and I don't have the proper tool to drill out the hole anyway. I'll stick with the Topsy for my experiment}

A 2-liter bottle
A 5-gallon bucket this way
or this way
or this way
try this site
or this one
and here's a pictorial

This is the collapsed bag, straight out of the box. There are 3 parts showing here. The hanging bag itself, a center disk with a watering hole in the middle, and a ring cap that goes on the top edges. The hanger {not showing} comes attached to the planter.

What else?
This is a view looking down into the bag. The green disc is the very bottom of the bag where your plant will hang out of. The white disc in the middle is actually a sponge that holds the plant in place.

This is the outside of the expanded bag, unfilled.

First, you'll remove the sponge. It is split so that you can tuck the plant stem into it.

Next you'll lay the planter on its side and then tuck the plant into the open hole where the sponge was.

And then, from the inside of the bag, carefully slide the plant stem into the split on the sponge and gently slip the sponge back into the hole.

This is a view from the inside with the sponge reattached in the center disc and the plant in place. Pour little root bound thing.

Then I read that it was okay to plant 2 tomato plants in the hole at once. Well, I had exactly 3 plants left, so what the heck, bein' a bit of a rebel, I stuck all 3 plants in there.

Now, it's time to add dirt. This is where either having an eye-level place to hang this or someone to hold it for you would come in handy, because let me tell you, this sucker gets H-E-A-V-Y once you start adding the dirt. Carefully add the dirt into the bag a little at a time, while trying to keep the plant's root ball fairly centered. Don't dump the soil fast or all at once because that could possibly damage or break your plant. I did break up the end of that root ball a bit as you see.

Once you're a few inches away from the top of the bag, stop filling.

Put the cap into the center and the ring around the edges, aligning it with the slots where the hanger wires are located. Hang it where it will receive some good sun and slowly add at least a gallon of water that has been mixed with some Miracle-Gro through the center hole. The soil must be fully saturated, but don't overwater!

Wait and watch to see what happens! I'll keep you posted on mine. I'm not sure that this spot will get enough sun, so I may relocate it. Might need to pick up a plant hanger stand, but we'll see!

Water regularly after this also - they claim you cannot overwater - and it's important that you do not let the soil dry out as this tends to contribute to blossom rot. Check by lifting up on the bag from the bottom. If the bag feels heavy, it's well watered. If it's lightweight, it's time to water. Fertilize about once every two weeks after this initial fertilizing.

According to the manufacturer, you may also plant herbs and many other veggies in these bags. Some listed include eggplant, zucchini and most varieties of pepper plants.

Check out my Year Two Topsy Turvy planter here or see all the Turvy updates here.


  1. Can't wait to see how it goes! My hubby and I were just talking about this the other day!!

  2. Well, it may end up a disaster but y'all will here about it either way!

  3. In a neighborhood near here I noticed that last year someone was growing their tomatoes with the topsy-turvy method, using big 2-gallon pails he had hung up. And the plants were LOADED with tomatoes!!! I hope your will grow well too!!!

  4. my Father in law is doing this...interested to see if it works....Happy SItS day

  5. we bought two of these for the same reason having some extra plants, i have not planted yet so i am looking forward to seeing how these work too

  6. I hope this works, We ended up pounding a steel rod into the ground to help support the metal hook... We planted about 3 weeks ago. They're growing good so far. The real test is when the plant gets big with the weight of the tomatoes

  7. I'll be anxious to see how it does too.

    After watering it in, I noticed the plant got pretty dirty from the soil colored water. At first I thought the plant was dying! Already! But it was discolored from the dirty water.

    I'm watching it today for sun exposure but think I'm gonna have to figure out a plant hanger too, because under the eave there I don't think it's gonna have enough sun.

    I've seen a few DIY upside down planters but the plastic buckets sounds most reasonable. Too much work for me to dig a hole out and then try to figure out how to make the plant and dirt stay in. Once you add water this sucker is MAJOR heavy - with my luck it'd all crap out onto the ground and destroy my plants. $15 at Amazon wasn't too bad for the experiment - I've spent way more on junk that ended up in the trash before. So we'll see. That's a good idea though if you have the wherewithal and tools to use!

  8. I've been wondering about these, so will be interested to see how it progresses!

  9. I think those look so strange, but I've heard they work!

  10. This is my first time visiting and I'm happy to have found you! I'm not the gardener around my house, my husband is, but it is fun to read about gardening (btw I think we may have some aphids, too :o). It's good to meet you and I'm looking forward to reading more.

  11. Ronnica, I think the whole theory with the upside down thing is less maintenance, less problems with bugs because allegedly they can't get to the plant as easy, no fruit on the ground, etc. I'll be posting an update on mine in the coming days.

    Hi Lynn - Welcome! I WISH my Hubs was into the gardening and yard thing - he's strictly a maintenance only cut the grass kind of guy who could care less about anything else. I think he kinda enjoys it once the flowers are blooming and things look nice though.

  12. I made my own from a 1.50 plastic trash can from walmart and i used a 1/4 inch rod shaped around the top under the rim to support the weight of the hanging wire. It will be fun to watch. I planted about a week ago and my plant is trying to turn upright and grow up the side. Has anyone who is trying that had this problem? any suggestions?

  13. From what I've seen that's normal. It will continue to curl up, but will also grow in length. Mine started to turn immediately. If you google images for upside down tomatoes you'll see more mature ones.

  14. Hi Marty - thanks for stopping by and leaving some additional DIY links. I did include some DIY links in my post for people who didn't want to invest in purchasing a commercially made upside down planter, one of the ones you posted in fact! I'll add your links to my post.

    I know a lot of folks prefer to make their own, but I was only trying out a single planter, and bought mine thru Amazon for $14 so I was willing to dole that much out to try it. Those TV purchases always add on so much shipping and other charges I wasn't gonna go that route!

    If I were going to do several of these, I would definitely be making my own, but most of my tomatoes are in the ground in a raised bed veggie garden. This was just an experiment.


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