# Topsy Turvy™ Upside-down Tomato Planter

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
... Ingenious tomato planter turns gardening upside down! Thanks to a whole new direction in growing tomatoes, your crop will be bigger, better tasting, healthier, and easier to grow than ever before. You can water, feed, trim and harvest without bending or kneeling—and since your crop is upside down and will never touch the ground, staking, caging, bacteria, ground rotting, fungus and small animals become problems of the past. [continued]
http://topsyturvys.com/10001.html

The TV commercial for these suggests that by inverting the plant, the flow of water and nutrients through the plants is enhanced, which sounded bogus to me, but all in all I wouldn't be surprised if these things work pretty well.

How about it plant people; does this make sense?

Gold Member
Well, Time Magazine's 'Best Inventions' seems to think so.

hypatia
Many gardeners in the south west have planted upside down for years. It works very well. Note to all, you can use a hanging plastic flower pot{cheap} by cutting the drainage hole a little bit bigger, push the plant into it, then fill with dirt. My Mom use to cover the top with landscape fabric to reduse moisture loss in their very dry climate.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
The bit about water and nutrient transport isn't consistent with how plants really transport either, but the claims of avoiding fungus and rot from the ground seem reasonable (but any planter would accomplish that). I don't know if the plant would try to turn while growing though.

hypatia
I'd half to agree with Moonbear on that, I don't see how it would make a difference nutrient wise.

Mentor
Oddly, I found the reviews for this particular model under a different model, I guess people that are making reviews can't tell which product they're reviewing. The model where they posted the reviews actually have the plants coming out of the sides near the top, an improvement to the "topsy turvy". Anyway, this review is supposed to be for the "topsy turvy" model with the plant coming out of the bottom.

By hanging the planter upside-down, water runs down the stem of the plant and collects right where the stem emerges from the planter. The stem ends up rotting from the pooling water, where in a normal planter it would go away from the plant and also feed the roots.

The plants end up convoluted and congested as they try to turn upward toward the sun. Essentially, the plants try to grow up into themselves and turn into a nasty knot of tangled growth. The planter itself also shields the plant from the sun, particularly when the plant is young.

I ended up hanging fishing weights from the ends of the branches to try to make them grow downward. Fruit was produced ultimately, but the fruits were undersized and subject to rotting from the water dripping down on them from above.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000PX8VL2/?tag=pfamazon01-20

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Would this concept work with other veggies? Like peppers?

Gold Member
I wouldn't try this with peppers, Greg, even if it worked properly (which it doesn't). Peppers need to be grown in strong direct sunlight to ripen properly (at least here in Maine) and growing them in the shade of an upside down pot would be self defeating. Most vegetable plants seek sun to maximize their energy. Instead of letting my squash spread around on the ground and shade each other, last year I trained them to the south side of a 4' plastic mesh fence along their row. They put on tons of flowers and we ended up with at least 50% more squash than previously, with far less ground-contact softness and rot. They kept very will in our cold cellar, too, so we had buttercup squash whenever we wanted, right up until March, when they started getting a bit soft and I composted at least 1/2 dozen then.

There are some innovative things you can do to improve crop yields, but apart from provided proper nutrients and good drainage, most of them (IMO) revolve around plant spacing, support, bracing, etc. The fence was an experiment that worked very well, so this year, the cucumbers are all getting the same treatment. I grew them in wire tomato cages last year, but they still vined along the ground a lot. I'll let them climb a fence instead and get maximum light.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Oddly, I found the reviews for this particular model under a different model, I guess people that are making reviews can't tell which product they're reviewing. The model where they posted the reviews actually have the plants coming out of the sides near the top, an improvement to the "topsy turvy". Anyway, this review is supposed to be for the "topsy turvy" model with the plant coming out of the bottom.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000PX8VL2/?tag=pfamazon01-20

I guess that answers my question about the plants wanting to turn back upward.

And, yes, I've had that problem with Amazon reviews before, too. People write reviews, but don't know what product they're viewing, so it's for some other model, and older version, etc.

Mentor
The Topsy Turvy tomato tower is being recalled due to it being unsafe. Seems the legs pop off and the thing falls over.

funkmonk
World Gone Topsy Turvy?

Has the world gone crazy? Has anyone ACTUALLY used this piece of garbage? I was stupid enough to try one this past week. The water in the container constantly dripped down the plant (Yes, water is subject to gravity! What a concept!) and kept both the stem and leaves constantly drenched in dirty, soil-containing water. And anyone who has ever grown tomatoes knows that the one thing you do not want to do is keep the leaves and stems of your plants constantly soaked in dirty water. The healthy little plant I placed in this ridiculous container lasted only about 3 days before dissolving into a little ball of dead, green goo. How the heck this company can get away with selling a product so patently bad and ill advised is beyond me. This worthless little emperor has not a STITCH of clothes! Please spread the word—if you buy this product you are doing nothing more than flushing your hard-earned money down the toilet.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Thanks for your input funkmonk, and welcome to PF.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Ooh, do we get to mark the thread solved now that we have empirical evidence to debunk it? And yes, welcome to PF funkmonk.

TheMetalChick
From what I remember, the way they talk on the commercial its like gravitropism doesn't exist. I haven't seen the commercial in a little while, though.

Grogerian
http://topsyturvys.com/10001.html [Broken]

The TV commercial for these suggests that by inverting the plant, the flow of water and nutrients through the plants is enhanced, which sounded bogus to me, but all in all I wouldn't be surprised if these things work pretty well.

How about it plant people; does this make sense?

lol is it just me or does everyone else find this hilarious, growing plants upside down that is ^.^ i look at it the way that their roots are like our esophagus where in which if we are upside down it doesn't move any faster, er... slower for that matter.

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Harlto

Has the world gone crazy? Has anyone ACTUALLY used this piece of garbage? I was stupid enough to try one this past week. The water in the container constantly dripped down the plant (Yes, water is subject to gravity! What a concept!) and kept both the stem and leaves constantly drenched in dirty, soil-containing water. And anyone who has ever grown tomatoes knows that the one thing you do not want to do is keep the leaves and stems of your plants constantly soaked in dirty water. The healthy little plant I placed in this ridiculous container lasted only about 3 days before dissolving into a little ball of dead, green goo. How the heck this company can get away with selling a product so patently bad and ill advised is beyond me. This worthless little emperor has not a STITCH of clothes! Please spread the word—if you buy this product you are doing nothing more than flushing your hard-earned money down the toilet.

I live in Colorado Springs, CO. I currently have 3 tomato plants growing on shepard's hooks at the edge of my deck(they hang over to the outside). These plants are doing just fine, normal growth and development as far as I can tell.(not extrodinarily better than my garden plants).

1)plants grow based on gravity.
If you point the stem down and the roots up, the stem will try to grow up and the roots will grow down. The the stem is not going to be a problem because the plant's weight will eventually pull it down. I'm not certain about the roots, they certainly can't grow through the plastic at the bottom of the tube but "exploding" upward in the bag is unlikely.

IMPORTANT!
2)This is basically a potted plant in a pot with very small drainage holes, BEWARE of over-watering because you do NOT want water to run all the way throught the bag and out the bottom. You will kill your plant because the water is going to keep the dirt at the bottom of the bag wetter if you over-water.

3)While it appears my plants are doing well, because of item 2 I've found that there is actually MORE work to keeping the plants healthy. I can't just turn on the sprinkler and let the ground soak up excess water--I've got to keep track of when and how much I give each pot.

As for lack of sun because of bag shade, I don't have that problem at all.

I just hope the tomato crop justifies the extra work.

Gold Member
The only good thing I can think of (have grown tomatoes for 40+ years) is that you can have them growing on your pourch where the deer don't go.

loobug27
I received the Topsy Turvy as a gift. I planted my tomato plant 5 days ago and the plant is already trying to grow back up. Basically my plant is in the shape of a "U". I'm going to take it out and plant the tomato plant in the ground.

Gold Member
I lost tomatoes in last summers' drenching rains due to collar-rot. The fruit high up on the plants did OK, but the ones closer to the ground got splashed with muddy water in the showers, and the water pooled in the depression around the stems. I will mulch my tomato plants generously with straw this year to avoid such losses if we get another monsoon summer. Growing the plants in an upside down pot that would allow water containing mold and mildew spores to drip on the plant seems quite counter-productive.

rrj500
Interesting thread. I too was very skeptical about the topsy-turvy ads, particularly the BS regarding better water and nutrient transport – but intrigued by the concept since I have spent years on my knees searching for tomatoes that are 0.5-3 feet off the ground. I was too cheap though to purchase the “2 for the price of one official topsy-turvy planter” (and I read that they disintegrate quickly) so I cut holes in the bottom of 2 three gallon black plastic planters (in early June) and stuffed a tomato plant in each.

The soil-filled water running out of the hole nearly killed one plant the first day – it recently sent out new shoots and seems to be recovering. Both tomatoes are happily growing up, as expected, and the excess water dripping out the bottom seems to be missing them now.

After I planted the tomatoes, I read on a website that one should only use determinate tomatoes since they are “bush-like” and will not turn and grow up. I am skeptical of this claim, but if I try the upside-down experiment next year I will try a determinant variety. I do not know what kind I purchased, but I read a review that seemed to indicate the type of tomato would, in fact, make a difference in how successfully they grew upside down.
http://howtogardenguide.com/2009/04/08/topsy-turvy-tomato-planter-review-an-update/ [Broken]

I planted basil in the top of one pot and rosemary in the other, so if the tomatoes fail perhaps the pots will still produce a crop.

It will be fascinating to see what will happen to the plants once (if) tomatoes start to form. If this thread is still active, I will repost later in the season with the results. I live in Denver, CO, so it will be interesting to compare results with the gardener in Colorado Springs who posted earlier.

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Harlto
So it's almost the middle of July(here in Colorado Springs-ok it's almost mid-July everywhere but wanted to refresh where my garden is) and I have 3 topsy turvy tomato plants still growing, 1 pepper, and 1 cucumber.

The foam "pac-man" collar that is used to keep the soil in had to be removed from all. The foam held moisture next to the stem and I lost 2 tomato plants to stem rot. So, not only is this more work than garden watering--you have to remove foam after the plants are established and the roots can hold the soil.

The remaining tomato plants are equal in size and blossoms to the 4 planted in the garden--I don't think they will be producing any earlier as the infomertial states though. They still exhibit the behavior of trying to turn upright but are none the worse for this behavior. The pepper is ok-must remember to start my peppers earlier as they seem to mature very slowly. The cucumber is actually kicking butt and has several fruits beginning.

My overall impression is that this may be an interesting way to grow vegetables but I don't believe it is superior to a regular garden. I will post again as harvest rolls in.

Note: All topsy turvy plants require more monitoring to not over-water and not let dry out. The foam collar was removed from all to mitigate stem rot. The container seems to be holding up fine, the ones that had the plants die from water damage were cleaned and look as good as new.

Harlto
Final update, the # of tomatoes produced by the topsy turvy was considerably less than the garden tomato plants. There were several topsy turvy planters around the neighborhood where I live. Some people had very good crops from what I could see walking the dogs in the the neighborhood.

A very good thing, I was able to take one of the tomato plants and a cayenne pepper plant that were in the topsy turvy and hang them in my heated garage with grow lamps, I've still got 6 tomatoes and some peppers on those plants and they're doing fine.

Overall, it's not what the informercial claimed, but it's not a total bust.

The rest of my garden was killed by the cold spell that rolled through Colorado last week.

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Mentor
Final update, the # of tomatoes produced by the topsy turvy was considerably less than the garden tomato plants. There were several topsy turvy planters around the neighborhood where I live. Some people had very good crops from what I could see walking the dogs in the the neighborhood.

A very good thing, I was able to take one of the tomato plants and a cayenne pepper plant that were in the topsy turvy and hang them in my heated garage with grow lamps, I've still got 6 tomatoes and some peppers on those plants and they're doing fine.

Overall, it's not what the informercial claimed, but it's not a total bust.

The rest of my garden was killed by the cold spell that rolled through Colorado last week.
Thanks for the update Harlto. I was wanting a hanging planter for my patio, but it sounds like I need to rig something up myself.

Pattonias
I wonder if you could you could use husbandry to develop a tomato plant that can grow properly upside down? Could I get a Nobel prize for thinking about it?

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I really like the concept of this product because I am a renter and the little bit of soil I have sucks! This seems like a portable way to grow a few tomatoes and herbs-there is also one for strawberries! Any more input on this product I would love to know, we are considering getting a couple of them with stands.

Gold Member
I really like the concept of this product because I am a renter and the little bit of soil I have sucks! This seems like a portable way to grow a few tomatoes and herbs-there is also one for strawberries! Any more input on this product I would love to know, we are considering getting a couple of them with stands.
Do you have enough patio or yard-space to do container-growing? If so, you can probably go to a restaurant or deli and pick up 5-gallon pails for free, and grow your plants in those. My wife and I have a nice garden, but we also like to do container-growing on our back deck. It's great to be able to go just a few feet to pick basil, sage, cilantro, etc, and cherry tomatoes seem to do really well in containers, too. Your largest expense in getting started would be buying bags of topsoil and composted manure.

You should also get some mulch to place on top of the soil/manure mix to minimize the splashing of mud during rains/watering. That will help prevent collar-rot in tomatoes, a real weakness of the Tospy Turvy system. Plus, you will save the $10+ per planter and the cost of the stands. BTW, if you don't like the color of your free 5-gallon pails or there are logos on them, just buy a can of spray paint and make them any color you want. Staff Emeritus Gold Member Do you have enough patio or yard-space to do container-growing? If so, you can probably go to a restaurant or deli and pick up 5-gallon pails for free, and grow your plants in those. My wife and I have a nice garden, but we also like to do container-growing on our back deck. It's great to be able to go just a few feet to pick basil, sage, cilantro, etc, and cherry tomatoes seem to do really well in containers, too. Your largest expense in getting started would be buying bags of topsoil and composted manure. You should also get some mulch to place on top of the soil/manure mix to minimize the splashing of mud during rains/watering. That will help prevent collar-rot in tomatoes, a real weakness of the Tospy Turvy system. Plus, you will save the$10+ per planter and the cost of the stands.

BTW, if you don't like the color of your free 5-gallon pails or there are logos on them, just buy a can of spray paint and make them any color you want.

Thank you for the simple advice! Might have to try that, I am all about finding the most resourceful methods and least expensive way to carry them out!

Home gardening is a pleasure, and well worth it, even if you can only grow fresh herbs. A piece of chicken is MASSIVELY improved with: dredge of egg, lemon, salt, pepper, FRESH thyme, FRESH chives, and a dash of FRESH sage, pan fry in some browned butter with capers. Finish with a touch of cream.

Tomatoes are only tough because you MUST water them all of the damned time. Dry your own basil (hang upside down from a string on a cabinet) then crush as needed. IF you have the space, then definitely go for some heirloom tomatoes, followed by courgettes and some lettuce. Mmmmm...

Mentor
Home gardening is a pleasure, and well worth it, even if you can only grow fresh herbs. A piece of chicken is MASSIVELY improved with: dredge of egg, lemon, salt, pepper, FRESH thyme, FRESH chives, and a dash of FRESH sage, pan fry in some browned butter with capers. Finish with a touch of cream.

Tomatoes are only tough because you MUST water them all of the damned time. Dry your own basil (hang upside down from a string on a cabinet) then crush as needed. IF you have the space, then definitely go for some heirloom tomatoes, followed by courgettes and some lettuce. Mmmmm...
You should post in the food and gardening threads.

Do you have enough patio or yard-space to do container-growing? If so, you can probably go to a restaurant or deli and pick up 5-gallon pails for free, and grow your plants in those. My wife and I have a nice garden, but we also like to do container-growing on our back deck. It's great to be able to go just a few feet to pick basil, sage, cilantro, etc, and cherry tomatoes seem to do really well in containers, too. Your largest expense in getting started would be buying bags of topsoil and composted manure.

You should also get some mulch to place on top of the soil/manure mix to minimize the splashing of mud during rains/watering. That will help prevent collar-rot in tomatoes, a real weakness of the Tospy Turvy system. Plus, you will save the \$10+ per planter and the cost of the stands.

BTW, if you don't like the color of your free 5-gallon pails or there are logos on them, just buy a can of spray paint and make them any color you want.

Good suggestion on the used food stuff containers. However from personal experience of container gardening (10 years, 160 tomatoes, 150 peppers containers, and 10 eggplant containers each year). The bare minimum for tomatoes is 7 gal, 5 gal for peppers and eggplants. Any smaller on those containers and having the plants out in the full sun where they want to be and there water requirements become too demanding. Take these container sizes as a rule of thumb as I'm in Montana, July and August of 90+ days and 60s at night Also if the container is any form of translucent get a coat of spray paint on it, roots don't like light.

The container size is the big reason I don't like the topsy turvy planter. It is something like 3 gal of soil. Might as well tie a hose to your hand and hand cuff your self to the plant.

You should post in the food and gardening threads.

Oooh, I didn't know they existed yet! Talk about a diverse forum: I'm in!

P.S. Ahhh threads, not a sub forum. How about "cooking and gardening" under Chemistry?

Argentum Vulpes: HA! So true about the watering. 3 gallons, maybe it comes with 20 of those of "watering bulbs"?

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Gold Member
We have a hose on our back deck. It only takes a few minutes a day to give the tomatoes and herbs and flowers a drink.

We have a hose on our back deck. It only takes a few minutes a day to give the tomatoes and herbs and flowers a drink.

You lucky devil. That's a great system... any pics?

fyshgrll
I have limited full-sun planting space at my home so bought one of these monstrosities. Total failure. Bought all the suggested nutrients and followed all the tips and directions. But, as previously noted by someone else who was taken in by these seat-holes, the water/mud drains out the bottom, full of the proscribed soil and nutrients, drools down the stem of the poor struggling upside-down plant and rots all the leaves and stalks. We tried to salvage the project after giving it a good 2 weeks to revert to some sort of success - we poked some additional holes in the sides of the bag in hopes the muddy water would drain somewhere other than all over the plant, but no luck. What a maddening waste of time, money, and plant life. Sheesh. Sorry to anyone else who tried this but glad to know I'm not the only one to get suckered in.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Just found this thread. Wife found these at Bed Bath & B. We have never had much luck with tomatoes. We get lots of cherry tomatoes but have never had any luck with a slicing tomato. We just can't do any worse. Here are some pics of what we have now:

I am on the opposite end of tomato growing scale from the other posters in this thread, a complete incompetent. If these things can put some tomatoes on my table I will be as happy a lark.