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The pros and cons of growing tomato plants upside down

Written by Nicola Wallis

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Posted on 27 June 2022

growing tomatoes in pots upside down

Growing tomatoes upside down is not a new concept but has become increasingly trendy over the past few years. Most people grow tomato plants upside down to save space and reduce soil borne pests. In this article we will look into the pros and cons and whether it this is worth embarking on or if it’s a bit of a passing fad.

What are the advantages of growing tomato plants upside down?

Ideal for small space gardening: Growing a tomato plant upside down has many benefits particularly when growing them in a garden with limited space or even on a balcony or patio. Hanging tomato plants upside down not only frees up more ground space but the plants can be moved around so they can benefit from full sunlight and equally be protected from bad weather.

Reduces risk of pests & diseases: Traditional methods of tomato growing involve staking to keep the tomatoes off the ground to prevent pests such as ground worms and diseases such as blight.  It also stops stems breaking from the weight of the

tomatoes. Hanging upside down means there’s no need for staking and good air flow means that soil borne diseases are reduced.

No need for staking: For some people staking tomato plants is enjoyable, whilst for others it is tiresome. Hanging tomatoes upside down allows the plant to vine out naturally as it would in the wild. The main reason we stake them is so that we get to eat them before other creatures do. Most gardeners that grow their tomato plants upside down find that they do not need to prune the plants of remove suckers which would usually take up a lot of space when grown the conventional way.

No weeds: Weeds tend not to grow upside down, so you don’t have to worry about those competing with your tomato plant.

What are the disadvantages of growing tomatoes upside down?

More watering is required: Growing tomatoes in containers or hanging baskets requires more watering than conventional planting methods, covering soil with a mulch or straw helps prevent water from evaporating or drying out quickly, but doesn’t resolve the problem entirely. Some growers find that tomato plant leaves are more prone to disease because the excess water drains out the same hole the main stem is in. In effect, every time you water the plant, the main stem, and some leaves get wet leading to disease, apparently additional spraying of organic pesticide can help resolve this.

Only suitable for certain varieties: Upside down tomato planters work well with small varieties like patio and grape tomatoes, but heavier ones like beefsteak tomatoes cause a weight bearing issue and break their stems.

They are heavy: These plants can be super heavy and near impossible to move when just watered. No only that but they need to be very well secure to the wall they’re hanging onto, so they don’t fall away.

Problems with the vines: The lack of support by means of staking can mean that the plants can bounce around in strong winds causing vines to snap. Due to phototropism, the vines want to grow naturally upwards and towards the sun resulting in U-shaped bends.

Lack of sunlight: Tomatoes grown upside down can struggle to get enough light. There are nearly always some of the tomatoes shaded by container in which they are grown in.

Which varieties are best for growing tomatoes upside down?

Look for small varieties which are prolific growers that ripen quickly such as Cascade cherry tomatoes, Sweet Million, Cherry Falls and Cupid Hybrid.

Is it better to grow tomatoes in the ground or upside down in hanging containers?

tomato planter for small garden

Whilst there are a few advantages to growing tomatoes upside down, they are better off grown in the ground, or if you’re short on space and only have a patio try a tomato patio planters  instead. Patio Planters can be moved around easier than hanging baskets which means they can be in full sunlight all the time. Using planters can also avoid some pests and diseases.

Have you tried growing your tomato plants upside down? If so, tag us in your photos and results on our social media channels.

 

 

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