Monday, March 26, 2012

Do It Yourself "Topsy Turvy" Tomato Planter

I love the space saving concept of the "Topsy Turvy" tomato planter.  I think this planter concept is helpful in cutting down on weeding and a perfect solution for people who want to enjoy homegrown tomatoes but don't have a yard.  I'll wager that if you had a window with enough sun exposure you could even grow tomatoes inside your home.

I've looked at them in stores each season but just didn't feel justified in spending the money to purchase one.    I saw on a website a way to make your own using an emptied 2 liter soda bottle and a few simple items usually found around the house.  (I'd love to give credit but it's been over a year since I found the idea and I can't remember the name of the site).

This project was really simple and only took about 15 minutes to complete.  This time includes several interruptions from my 2 year old daughter. 

To make your own "Topsy Turvy" tomato planter, you will need the following items ~

  • Empty, clean 2 liter plastic soda bottle
  • A chopstick, wooden skewer or small dowel rod, at least 8 inches long. (You could also use a metal clothing hanger as I did on my first planter.  However, it was very difficult for me to untwist the hanger and to twist it back into position). 
  • scissors
  • potting soil
  • coffee filter
  • tomato plant
  • wire or string to hang your planter with
  • something to punch holes with (I used a screw but I think any sharp object would work.
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1) Wash an empty 2 liter soda bottle
Remove label if desired.

2) Carefully cut bottom off approximately 2 inches. 
On the bottle I used, there was a ridge at the right spot
which served as a guide.

3) Place the cut bottom portion inside the bottle in an
inverted position.  It should fit snugly.

4) With the bottom still inside the bottle, poke 2 holes
through the sides to fit the chopstick or dowel
rod.  You will want to make sure to align these holes
in a centered position so your planter isn't off balance
when hanging.

5) Pull the bottom out and make holes which will
serve as a water dispenser for your plant.

6) This is what my water dispenser looks like.  I made
ten holes and attempted to evenly space them.

7) Choose a tomato seedling that isn't very large yet.
You'll need to be able to thread the plant through the
top off your bottle.

8) Tear a seam in the coffee filter from an edge
to the center.  Wrap gently around the base of your
plant, covering the dirt.

9) Gently work the tomato plant
through the neck of the bottle. 
Use your chopstick to help
lift the plant through the opening if need be.

10) Turn your planter upside down and fill with potting
soil.  You will want to be sure to leave space to place
the water dispenser/lid.

11) Thread the dowel rod/chopstick through
the holes.

12) Secure wire to hang the plant. 

13) Pour water into the dispenser until water drips
out of the neck of the bottle.

14) Hang your new "Topsy
Turvy" and enjoy!
You should cover the bottle with something to shield
delicate roots from the light.
I used masking tape on one and
duct tape on another.  I think
you could paint the planter with
spray paint prior to putting your
plant in, as well.

To care for your plant, water as needed.

For additional space saving ideas, check out the following -

Vertical Vegetables & Fruit: Creative Gardening Techniques for Growing Up in Small Spaces

 Vertical Vegetable Gardening: A Living Free Guide (Living Free Guides)

Vertical Gardening and Container Gardening - Ideas for Growing Vegetables and Herbs In Small Vertical Places Outdoors and Indoors

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like ~

How Much Seed Should You Buy to Feed Your Family For a Year?


  1. These don't work real well here. It is to hard to keep them watered and the plants just don't grow as well as they would in a pot. I don't find them real space saving either as we would have to find somewhere to hang them.
    I do small tomatoes in hanging basket pots from my porch. They usually do pretty well.

    1. I could see that this might not be great for all situations. I've never tried growing tomatoes like this before but I'm excited to see how they do! I'm thinking this might be a good option for someone with only a balcony or patio space. I thought also that you might be able to even grow them inside in a really sunny window, OR move from window to window following the sun? At any rate, it's a fun experiment!

      Thanks for your visit!

  2. Sounds like something I can make and give to the mother-in-law to keep her busy. I don't have drink bottles so maybe an old milk jug would work as well.

    1. I'll bet you could use an old milk jug! Might even be better since it's bigger.....Let us know how the project goes if you make one. Thanks for the visit!

    2. bem criativo,e saudável,amei....

  3. Interesting idea. Thanks for sharing it!

    1. You're quite welcome Linda! Thanks for the visit!

  4. Oh, I love this! I'm definitely going to be hanging a few of these babies around the yard, this year.

    1. I'm really excited too Carolynn! I've been wanting to try the Topsy Turvy and just finally got around to making a few this year. I hope they're as cool as I've heard!

  5. Oh, you are so clever! I've wondered about these but never wanted to spring for one. This looks doable!

    1. It's really so simple to make Leigh! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Ahh! I love this! Problem is, we don't drink soda so I don;t have any soda bottles. I wonder what other bottles in my recycling bin can be used... And, my tomato plants are itty bitty right now, I wonder if I should wait for them to grow a bit more. I'm gonna have to try it, I'm too impatient! LOL

    1. I think you could use a milk jug or any bottle that is similar sized or larger. If your tomato plants are tall enough to fit through the neck of the bottle, they should work. I know what you mean, I'm an impatient soul too!

  7. I also wonder if any other veggies can be grown this way. Beans?

    1. My hubby and I were just wondering the same thing last night! It's on my list to try. I think the main thing is to be sure the bottle will accommodate the root expansion. Do let me know if you try beans!

  8. I would love to hear an update on your plants (found this post through Google). I've read warnings on other sites regarding the plant drying out easily-- any issues like this for you? I have about 20 plants from seed that I'd like to hang!

    1. Hi rachaeldear! I do have to water my homemade topsy turvy often and my hanging plants are not nearly as big as the ones in the ground. I think that a bigger container might be better....perhaps a large vinegar bottle or something. I've been meaning to update everyone but my garden is keeping me super busy. Do let us know if you try a variation of this and how it works for you!

      Have a great day!

  9. strawberries work good. and yep milk containers work too.

    1. I'd like to try strawberries next time and I will definitely find a bigger container, like a milk jug to reduce the amount of watering I have to do. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Thanks for the post. Going to try two kinds of tomatoes and

  11. Some stores carry 3ltr soda bottles. Juice bottle Sunny D bottle

    1. Yeah! Good idea! When I lived in Texas a bunch of stores regularly carried 3 liter bottles! Thanks!

  12. Good idea, Please translate to Portuguese.
    I lived in one apartament, than its very very good to do this. I'm brasilian

  13. definitely going to try this this year. Am going to get supplies tomorrow to do this. Also going to try beans as well as strawberries. Will update after seeing progress. Hopefully they will take off. Thanks for the ideas.

  14. Thanks! Going to do this with the kids at The Boys and Girls Club-what they can't use, they can sell at their Club Store :)

  15. Awesome idea! Going to do this with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club along their back fence. What they can't use can be sold at their Club Store :)

  16. The concept is novel, unfortunately plastic is a terrible material to grow any plant in because it doesn't breath... you need a porous material to use as your growing vessel.. a hanging basket made of coconut fiber is wonderful, get them at nurseries for economic prices....don't over water the plants...


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