How to Grow an Upside Down Tomato Plant in Your Basement

How to Grow an Upside Down Tomato Plant in Your Basement

How to Grow an Upside Down Tomato Plant in Your Basement

Introduction

Growing an upside down tomato plant in your basement can be a fun and rewarding experience. Tomatoes are one of the most popular fruits to grow at home, and doing it upside down allows you to maximize your limited basement space. An upside down tomato plant grows downwards rather than upwards, letting gravity do the work of getting nutrients to the fruit. Follow along as I walk through everything you need to know to successfully grow an upside down tomato plant in your basement.

Choosing the Right Tomato Variety

The first step is choosing the right tomato variety to grow upside down. Look for determinate or “bush” varieties that grow to a compact size. Some good ones to try are:

  • Cherry tomatoes – These small fruited varieties like Sweet 100 or Sungold are perfect for upside down growing. They produce prolifically while staying a manageable size.

  • Roma tomatoes – Roma types are a paste tomato that grows well upside down. Try varieties like Plum Regal or Amish Paste.

  • Small salad tomatoes – Go for compact, early producing salad tomatoes like Tiny Tim or Patio Choice Yellow.

Avoid sprawling indeterminate varieties that will grow too large and heavy upside down. Make sure any variety you choose is suitable for containers.

Obtaining an Upside Down Planter

Once you’ve selected your tomato variety, you need an appropriate planter. Upside down planters have a reservoir at the top where the plant is placed, allowing the vines to grow downward. You have two main options:

  • Purchase a pre-made planter – There are many commercial options made just for upside down tomatoes. These come complete with planting instructions.

  • Make your own – You can convert containers like 5 gallon buckets or fabric grow bags into DIY upside down planters. Just cut or drill drainage holes in the bottom and fill with soil.

Make sure your planter is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the plant and deep enough to accommodate the roots. Anything from 5-15 gallons typically works well.

Setting Up the Right Conditions

One of the challenges of growing plants in a basement is providing adequate sunlight and warmth. Here are some tips to create good conditions:

  • Lighting – Supplement sunlight with grow lights. LED full spectrum grow lights work best. Place lights 6-12 inches from the plant leaves. Give tomatoes 12-16 hours under the lights daily.

  • Temperature – Tomatoes need temperatures around 70°F during the day and 60°F at night. Use a portable heater or grow lights to maintain warmth.

  • Air circulation – Use fans to circulate air and provide good air flow. This prevents disease issues.

  • Humidity – Increase humidity around the plants by using a humidifier or placing the pots on a pebble tray.

Planting and Caring for the Tomatoes

Now comes the fun part of actually growing the upside down tomatoes! Follow these steps:

  • Fill the bottom reservoir of the planter with a nutrient rich potting mix. Leave about 6 inches of space at the top.

  • Gently place one tomato seedling in the top of the planter so the roots grow downward. Add more potting mix to anchor it.

  • Attach vines to the planter using soft plant ties or clips. This prevents breakage as they grow.

  • Water regularly to keep the soil consistently moist but not soaked. Add liquid fertilizer once flowering begins.

  • Prune off any “suckers” or side shoots to keep the plant energy focused on fruiting.

  • Monitor for pests like aphids or whiteflies. Use natural control methods if they appear.

Harvesting the Tomatoes

In the right conditions, you’ll soon have ripe tomatoes dangling below your upside down plant in the basement!

  • Check tomatoes often once they start changing color and look nearly ripe.

  • Harvest by gently twisting the tomatoes to separate from the vine.

  • Enjoy fresh sliced tomatoes on sandwiches, salads and more all winter long!

  • When first frost approaches, pull out the plant and discard any green tomatoes that haven’t ripened.

Growing upside down tomatoes is a unique way to maximize your basement space. With the right variety, planter setup and care, you can have homegrown vine-ripe tomatoes even in the middle of winter! It takes some work but the flavor payoff is immense.