Many visitors to my site are looking for tips on Topsy Turvy upside down tomato planters. Although I’m personally not a big fan of these planters, people elsewhere have had success with them. So I’ll offer you my best Topsy Turvy Upside-Down Tomato Plantertips.
Problem: Topsy Turvy planter dries out too quickly
Solution: Add water absorbing crystals to your soil mixture
Topsy Turvy planters tend to dry out quickly because the entire container is exposed to the sun. The container may need to be watered several times a day at peak production. You can add synthetic polymers that absorb water and release it back into the soil as the soil dries out. These water-absorbing crystals are sold under the commercial names Soil Moist,Terra-Sorb,Hydrosorb,and others.
Problem: Stems and branches of plants break off in wind
Solution: Place Topsy Turvy planter in sheltered area
Wind is the enemy of the Topsy Turvy planter. Not only does the wind snap the stems of the tomato plants, it can also tip over a planter and it’s support. Place the planter in an area that receives 6-8 hours of direct sun per day but receives some protection from the wind. If you have a freestanding metal support, weight the base down with concrete blocks or bags of sand to prevent it from tipping over.
When you first plant your tomato seedling, strip off the bottom leaves and plant part of the stem deeper into the soil. New roots will form along the stem and you’ll have a sturdier, stockier plant.
Problem: Topsy Turvy planter is extremely heavy and unwieldy
Solution: Choose dwarf tomato plants that stay small
Commonly available varieties include new New Big Dwarf, Husky Cherry Red, Totem or Patio. You can even plant tiny “micro” varieties such as Micro Tom, Micro Gold, Red Robin or Tiny Tim. Bush varieties such as Bush Champion or Homestead may also work. You can always prune the tomato plants to keep excessive growth in check. As a side note, the Dwarf Tomato Project looks interesting!
Consider alternatives to the Topsy Turvy planter as well. A whiskey barrel planter is ideal for your average-sized tomato plant and you won’t have to stand on a step stool to water it. If you value function over form, one of those large Rubbermaid tubs with a few holes drilled in the bottom also makes a great planter for tomatoes. This gardener elevates the Rubbermaid Container to a whole new level by using these inexpensive tubs to make a self-watering Earth box. They may not be the most attractive things in the world, but I bet they grow some tasty tomatoes!
As for me, I am sticking with my raised beds for now. I also plant one tomato plant close to my house, against the concrete block foundation. It’s the last plant to succumb to frost, so I get a few more days out of tomato season.