Upside-Down Tomatoes? I’ve heard a lot of people trying to figure out what the big deal is behind the hanging tomato plant. Some have boasted that it’s the only way they’ve ever felt they’ve had a green thumb, while others have ventured out and then stamped their efforts with the big FAIL. Let’s figure out what’s going on.
Traditionally, tomatoes grow up-right and need to be supported in their growth to keep the leaves in the sunlight (so that food is produced) and to prevent the fruit from flopping all over the ground and rotting. A cage or stake is introduced as a means of support. Pretty simple rationale.
And that’s how most of us like things: pretty simple. When a product is marketed it seems its main point is to make life streamlined. That’s the premise of the planters, too: to keep pests out, prevent us from having to bend down to care for the plant, or use a stake.
When you turn a plant upside-down, it introduced stress. It’s still going to try to grow naturally. You should grow the plant right-side up until it’s about 10 inches above the container…this is a sign that he’s mature enough to handle the stress of being inverted. Kind of like how kids aren’t/shouldn’t be allowed to work until they’re 16. Introducing stress too early gives a sub-par product. Maybe we're more like plants than we think.
Otherwise, make sure the plant is in a sunny place and has water. I think this is where most of the trouble comes from….tomatoes need a lot of water, which inevitably makes the soil heavy. Sounds like a recipe for disaster when you are working against gravity with the upside-down planter.
Mainly, we are looking for a gardening solution that is affordable, fits your space confinements, and works with the season. Hanging tomato plants are a great low-cost option where space is limited, but I’m old-school and say keep it in a pot for best results when the ground is not an option.
(This tomato planter combo has a bed on the top as well for other veggies and runs about $90...really steep if you are wanting to dip your toes in, but efficient if space is your issue and you want to test out lettuces and herbs as well. Standard versions are about $7.)
Best bet in my book? A medium/large pot that's at least 12 inches wide and 18 inches deep. This is appropriate for full size and cherry size tomatoes. Use a stake.
Happy trails toward incredible gazpacho and salads!