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Grow upside-down tomatoes

Grow upside-down tomatoes

Dr. Clydette M. Alsup-Egbers, associate professor in the William H. Darr School of Agriculture, gave tips for planting these summer garden staples in a hanging container.

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Materials needed

  • Five-gallon bucket with a wire handle and a lid
  • Drill with a hole-saw attachment (about two inches)
  • Potting soil
  • Water
  • Tomato seedlings
  • Newspaper
  • Optional: marigold seeds or seedlings; basil seeds or seedlings; mulch


  1. Using the drill and its hole-saw attachment, make a hole (about two inches in diameter) in the center of the bucket bottom. This is where your tomato plant will go.
  2. Stand the bucket upright and fill it about three-fourths full with potting soil. Water well.
  3. Place lid securely on bucket; tilt bucket on its side.
  4. Take a tomato seedling and wrap the roots in several sheets of newspaper. Put the wrapped seedling in the hole of the bucket so that only the very top of the seedling is sticking out. Be sure the seedling is secure enough to not fall out of the hole.
  5. Pick up the bucket, seedling-side down, and hang it, using its handle, in the place of your choice —a sunny location works best, and make sure the hanging site is sturdy enough for the weight of the planter (it will become heavier as the vines grow and the tomatoes sprout).
  6. You can leave the lid on and only remove it when you water the plant, or drill a hole in the lid through which to water. You may also remove the lid entirely and double-up on your project by planting marigolds or basil in the top of the bucket. You may also put mulch over the top to keep moisture in the soil.
  7. Keep your soil damp, but not too wet. Water daily or every other day until you see water coming out of the bottom of the planter. If the soil about an inch from the top feels dry to the touch, increase your water. Add new soil and/or fertilizer a few times a month for nutrients, and because soil will be washing out of the hole in the planter.
  8. Harvest tomatoes as they ripen on the vine!

Additional info from gardenguides.com, amazingtomatoes.com, eHow.com and the National Gardening Association