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How to Make a Topsy Turvy Garden Planter

Updated on March 11, 2015
Jadelynx-HP profile image

Tracey has been writing online for over 10 years. She also is a graphical artist for social media sites. She loves writing about home life!

Save Money and It's Reusable!

I have always wanted to try one of those upside down tomato planter thingies that they advertise on TV. Every year I think about buying one, but the cost always holds me back. Twenty dollars a piece plus shipping (usually about $8.00) each ? A bit pricey for tomatoes, I always think and trudge out and plant mine in the ground. This year I saw them in WalMart, and I opened the box and looked inside to see what exactly you get for your money. I was shocked at the simplicity of what they charge $20 for. "I could make this for $5.00," I thought to myself.

So that is exactly what I did, and you can too ! Follow the simple instructions below and make your own upside down planter, and as an added bonus, your home-made planter allows you to plant in the top as well as the bottom ! Check it out !

Photo from

What You Will Need - Easy To Find

1. Plastic Bucket. You can also use a large plastic flower pot, but if you do, you will need to improvise a handle to hang it with.

2. Soil. I suggest Miracle Gro Potting Soil, or some type of vegetable specific soil with fertilizer already mixed in.

3. One inch thick piece of styrofoam big enough to cover the bottom of the bucket

4. Vegetable plants. Either three or four, depending on if you decide to put two upside down, or one. It is better if you choose cherry tomatoes, or other very small tomato so the weight will not overstress the vines.

How To Put It Together

What to do next.....

Turn the bucket over so that the bottom is facing up. You can hang one or two plants upside down. If you plan to hang one plant, then you will need to cut a hole in the middle of the bottom of the bucket. If you plan to hang two plants, then you need to cut two holes opposite of each other about one half inch from the edge of the bucket.

Take the styrofoam and cut it into a circle to fit in the bottom of the bucket. Turn the bucket back right side up and place the styrofoam into the bottom of the bucket. Take a pencil and carefully poke a hole in the styrofoam in the same spot as the holes in the bottom of the bucket. Pull out the styrofoam and with a straight edge draw a line between the two pencil holes, and cut the styrofoam circle in half, along that line. Once the styrofoam is in two pieces, enlarge the holes in the styrofoam to about the side of half a quarter.

Take one half of the styrofoam back in the bucket bottom and take your vegetable plant and tug it gently out of the pot. Gently drop the plant through the hole in the bucket, upside down, letting the rootball keep it from falling through. Slide the other piece of styrofoam into the bottom of the bucket, locking the rootball above the styrofoam and the plant below, hanging out of the bucket bottom.

Hang the planter up, or have someone hold it up while you begin adding the soil into the pot around the rootball. Pack it in with your fingers, but not too hard. Once you have it about half way full, you may want to sprinkle some slow release fertilizer over the soil, if your soil does not already have fertilizer in it. Finish filling it with soil to about 2 to 3 inches from the top.

You can use the regular bucket handle to hang up your planter, or you can remove the handle and use the holes make a more decorative hanger out of colored rope or wire.

Plant Vegetables in the Top if You Like

Helps keep the soil cooler and shaded

Optionally, you can put some smaller plants in the top of the bucket. Doing so will help to shade the soil in the bucket and keep it cooler. The top of your upside down planter is the perfect place to grow herbs, or small cherry tomatoes. You could even plant flowers in it, to dress up your planter, if you plan to hang it on your deck or in your yard. Whatever you choose to put in the top, make sure it is not something that grows taller than 6 or 7 inches.

Cherry Tomatoes are Perfect for the Top

Some Smart Advice from a Reader


A reader of this page offered some friendly advice that if you live in an area with high winds, you will want to take down your hanging planter in times of high wind. She had her entire hanging crop destroyed in a windstorm, don't let this happen to you!

I have also lost a few tomatoes in a windstorm, as in I had ten luscious tomatoes on my vine and after a particularly bad storm, I came back to only six. :( You may want to hang your planter in an area that is somewhat sheltered from the wind.

Maintenance of your Planter

If you live in a cold climate

When the summer is over, and you have grown all your delicious veggies, fruits or flowers, you need to take these steps to take proper care of your planter and make sure it is whole and ready to use for the next growing season.

1. Cut the plants off one inch from the bottom of the planter.

2. Pull out all the plants that are planted in the top, if any.

3 Take your planter down and turn it upside down and shake it, letting all the soil and the styrofoam fall out of the bucket. Carefully pull the styrofoam pieces away from the soil and thoroughly rinse them off with water. (a garden hose works nicely)

4. Rinse the bucket off both inside and out, using a sponge or brush to dislodge all the soil particles that are sticking to the sides. When it is clean, store the styrofoam pieces inside and put the bucket away with the rest of the gardening items. It is ok to store them your planter in an unheated garage or toolshed, as long the bucket is empty of all soil.

**WARNING** Failure to remove the soil from the bucket may result in the soil freezing over the winter and expanding, which may crack your bucket, making it unuseable. It is very important that you remove the soil from your bucket before freezing temperatures.

Do You Love Gardening?

How about Cooking, Sewing and Crafts?

If you do, you might want to visit my Blog Homemade by Jade This blog is dedicated to reviving the skills of "homemade." Most of the posts are about gardening, cooking, sewing, crafts and DIY household projects.

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Tell Us About Your Upside Down Growing Experiences ! - Or if you have any ideas to improve this item !

Submit a Comment

  • BarbRad profile image

    Barbara Radisavljevic 

    2 years ago from Templeton, CA

    I've always wanted to try this, but never have. It might be one way to defeat ground squirrels. But maybe not. It was pretty clever of you to figure out how to make your own upside-down planter. I've always wondered how they worked and why the plant didn't fall out.

  • profile image


    2 years ago

    I've always wanted to try this, maybe I will now!

  • Andria Perry profile image

    Andria Perry 

    2 years ago from Anniston, Alabama

    I was given some of those things but I passed them to my brother, I like this idea better!

  • Lorelei Cohen profile image

    Lorelei Cohen 

    2 years ago from Canada

    This would be so very decorative in the yard. Plus added bonus is that just about everything you need is likely close at hand.

  • RaintreeAnnie profile image


    3 years ago from UK

    What a good idea and much better to make your own as it does seem simple enough. Thank you for the instructions and tips.

  • RaintreeAnnie profile image


    3 years ago from UK

    What a good idea and much better to make your own as it does seem simple enough. Thank you for the instructions and tips.

  • Jadelynx-HP profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracey Boyer 

    4 years ago from Michigan

    @tazzytamar: Thank you, you are very kind! I am glad you liked it. :)

  • tazzytamar profile image


    4 years ago from chichester

    What a brilliant idea - I LOVE being able to make things myself which would have cost 3 times the amount you pay for the product. Great lens- you really deserved that purple star.

  • Jadelynx-HP profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracey Boyer 

    4 years ago from Michigan

    @Nancy Hardin: Thanks for the share :)

  • Nancy Hardin profile image

    Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

    4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

    This is terrific, and I agree with you about the cost to buy it already made. Why do that, when you can do it yourself! Very smart of you, and a good idea to make your lens about such a handy thing. Thanks for sharing...sending the link to my daughter, who loves to garden.

  • evelynsaenz1 profile image

    Evelyn Saenz 

    4 years ago from Royalton

    Sounds like a great idea! I have never tried planting my tomatoes upside down but I think they might look nice hanging from the porch at my B&B. Maybe I'll try it this summer.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    I shared this on facebook and pinned it to my frugal living board. We are both wanting to make these!

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    You came up with a terrific idea! I have never grown tomatoes before, but I just may give it a try.

  • writerkath profile image


    5 years ago

    When we first tried the topsy turvy, the first thing I noticed as the plants grew is that there were less pests. Coincidence? I don't know, but I love it! Plus, once the tomatoes are growing, they are attractive! Congrats on your Purple Star! :)

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    This really does work, but I do have a caution for your readers. I did this about 2 years ago and had lovely tomatoes, almost ready for eating. I live in the so-called "Tornado Alley" in Central Arkansas. We had tornado warnings, and I didn't think about the plants hanging outside. Our area did not get hit with a tornado, but we had several hours of extremely high winds. The wind torn all the pots from their hangers and dumped them upside down, destroying every plant. I haven't moved, and I haven't had the heart to try again. Maybe I will do so this year. There's always hope -- even in Tornado Alley.

  • Jadelynx-HP profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracey Boyer 

    5 years ago from Michigan

    @LisaDH: and its less expensive too ! Thanks

  • LisaDH profile image


    5 years ago

    I've always wanted to try one of those upside down planters, too, but I like your DIY idea better!

  • Frischy profile image


    5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

    This is a great idea! Herbs in the top would be terrific! Love it!

  • retta719 profile image


    5 years ago from United States

    Brilliant! I like the idea of planting herbs in the top too, that's perfect to go with the tomatoes :)

  • audrey07 profile image


    5 years ago

    It's cheaper to make your own. Some of the gardening items just aren't worth buying, especially if you add in the shipping costs.

  • Gypzeerose profile image

    Rose Jones 

    5 years ago

    Helpful lens - pinned to my gardening board.

  • ecogranny profile image

    Kathryn Grace 

    5 years ago from San Francisco

    Now that I no longer have a garden, I must enjoy gardens vicariously, so I thank you for this page. Here's an upside down gardening tip I've seen on several web sites: Cut the bottom off a gallon milk jug. Put two nail holes in each side through which to thread hangers, being careful to match the holes with their mates on the other side so the planter will hang evenly. Fill with potting soil. Put a temporary cover over the bottom, set the jug upright, and tuck your seedling into the soil through the neck of the jug. Turn over, remove the temporary cover, hang in a sunny location and water.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    Great ideas! I might try this out this spring.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    I've seen these advertised, too. And with a menagerie of cats and dogs, it seemed the perfect solution, but I never got around to buying one. Now I'm going to follow your directions and make my own. Thank you for sharing your discovery!

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    Thanks for this! My daughter has been growing her tomatoes like this for a few years and she swears by it.

  • Jadelynx-HP profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracey Boyer 

    5 years ago from Michigan

    @CherylsArt: Good suggestions!

  • CherylsArt profile image

    Cheryl Paton 

    5 years ago from West Virginia

    I think you will need a place with good lighting, and not to plant something too bushy in the top, to allow more sunlight to reach what is growing underneath.

  • RuthieDenise profile image


    5 years ago

    I haven't tried it yet but my neighbor grew some nice tomatoes that way.

  • Twmarsh profile image


    6 years ago

    Great idea! I may try this with my tomatoes this year. Thanks for the tips!


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