Topsy-turvy tomato growing

The latest craze for gardeners is the topsy turvy tomatoes. You can actually grow a number of vegetables upside-down, like peppers and eggplants.  There are a number of companies marketing kits to help you grow your vegetables ‘topsy turvy’.  The main question would be why do it?

Actually, growing plants upside down is a way to hang them so they don’t take up a lot of space. This is especially useful where space is at a premium. You can make your own hangers inexpensively by simply cutting a hole in the bottom of a lidded bucket or other container. Fill the container with good vegetable compost and soil. Then plant your vegetable plant into the small hole so the plant can protrude upside-down when the container is hung. The lid can cover the top of the bucket.  You’ll remove it for watering and replace it after to keep the soil from drying out too fast.  Use a bucket with a strong handle to hang it or slip the container into a support like a decorative woven hanger. The larger the container, the stronger your hanging support should be.

Of course, you can save yourself a lot of work by purchasing one of the many kits that can be easily assembled. Some of the kits have been reviewed as being flimsy and falling apart easily, so check out what you are buying before laying down your cash.

Then we get to the question of why you would want to grow plants upside down in the first place. The process certainly is a novelty. But select your plants carefully. Not all plants will do well this way. Do not choose large growing tomatoes. And, if you think about it, many of the smaller-growing tomatoes and cascading varieties will look even better if grown in regular hanging pots. Most topsy-turvy plants will flower and fruit if well tended. They do not grow as well this way as the would if they were planted right-side-up. Not surprising.  Most things do better growing the way it is natural for them to grow.  Also, watering topsy turvy tomatoes and other edibles can get tricky as pots tend to dry out quickly. Since tomatoes can root at the top of the stem as well as the bottom, they are more amenable to being grown this way.

If you just want an interesting conversation piece, by all means plant your tomatoes upside-down. But the truth about Topsy Turvy tomatoes is that they probably won’t grow quite as well, nor look quite as attractive as they would planted in a regular pot or in the ground.