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Upside Down Pepper Planter

The Topsy Turvy® started the upside down container gardening fad, much to the chagrin of gardening purists. Growing vegetables upside down has recieved mainstream recognition by being profiled in newspapers and magazines. There is even an upside down container DIY project in Gayla Trail's latest book, Grow Great Grub. While you can buy several upside down planters like the Topsy Turvy®  you can also make your own upside down planter for plants like tomatoes and peppers.

One day while cleaning out food from the fridge I came across a deli container I was going to toss out. Being a frugal gardener I decided to recycle the container in the garden.

how to make an upside down pepper planter

After 20 minutes I had an upside down hanging pepper planter made from items I already had around the house and garden. What you'll need: 1)A plant or seedling. 2)A plastic container or bucket. 3) Twine, wire or something similar. 4) Potting soil mix: the lighter the better. 5) One coffee filter

I used what I was told was a pequin pepper* which remains a relatively small plant throughout my growing season. I chose this small pepper because the container is small, it used to hold 5lbs of potato salad, it wouldn't get too big or heavy for the container.

upside down pepper planter, how to make an upside down hot pepper planter

The plastic container I used to make my upside down pepper planter.

drainage hole in upside down pepper planter

Step #1: I cut a hole in the bottom of the recycled container to act as a drainage hole for the pepper planter and to allow me to thread the plant through.

hanging wire for upside down pepper planter

Step #2: Pokes holes into the side of the container because it didn't have a handle like a bucket. You can use a strong twine or wire to create the handle. I used a garden weed eater string that I had laying around.

coffee filter drainage cover for upside down pepper planter

Step #3: Took the coffee filter and cut a small circle and a slit to the center. The stem of my hot pepper plant was place in the center of the hole I cut out.The coffee filter will cover the drainage hole in my upside down pepper planter so the water slowly seeps out and the soil stays inside.

preparing pepper plant for upside down pepper planter

Step #4: I placed my coffee filter around the root ball of my pepper plant like so. Make sure the stem is in the center of the hole you cut and that your filter is wrapped tightly around the root ball of your plant. Now, flip it upside down. This is where the upside down part comes in.

pepper plant in upside down pepper planter

Step #5: I inserted the upside down plant into the hole I cut out in Step #1 while making sure the coffee filter stayed in place. Then, I filled my container with potting soil mix. Make sure to you use a light potting soil because when your container is wet it will be heavy and may snap whatever you're using to hang it with.

homemade upside down planter

Now I have an upside down pepper planter that is obviously homemade, but was a fun garden project.

companion planting in upside down pepper planter

The container I used to make my upside down pepper planter has a lid that I was going to put back on after the container was filled with a potting mix. Once I put it on it dawned on me that I could use the top portion of my upside down container to grow something else. So, I put in some "Windowbox" mini basil seedlings in. This basil is a small compact basil, sometimes called a "bonsai" basil because of its compact growth habit.

hot pepper foliage in upside down pepper planter

When you first plant your upside planter, whether it is with a tomato or a pepper plant, the foliage of your plant will be upside down. As you can see from the upside down foliage of my pepper plant.

foliage of chile pequin in upside down pepper planter

Within a day or two of being planted upside down your plant's leaves will orient themselves correctly so that the sun shines on the upper-side of the leaves.

I'm hoping that by being half covered and half open my planter will be easy to keep moist and make watering simple. In the week since I created it I haven't noticed any excessive drying out of the soil medium. I've actually not watered it once in the week since I planted it. Do I think growing plants in upside down containers create healthier plants or gives you a better crop yield? Probably not, but this is my first year trying it. Can't be any different than right-side container gardening. Although, I do see some benefits of growing veggies and herbs in upside down containers: If you don't have space to set another container on the floor or ground hanging it upside down is a good space-saving technique for gardeners with precious little space. Also, if you have kids or pets around who are always picking fruit before it ripens hanging tomatoes and other plants out of their reach it a good idea.

* I grew pequin peppers last year and the peppers on this plant are much larger than pequin; I'm thinking this plant was missed labeled.


  1. I love your ingenious way of making your own topsy turvy planter. Great idea growing some basil on top. I look forward to hearing how it works.

  2. Nice tutorial! I had a go at my own upside-down planter a few years ago: It was a multi-tiered affair made from a plastic plant pot. I believe my plant would have fared better had I used your coffee filter approach. A very strong wind wreaked havoc on the stem of my plant as it rubbed against the jagged edge of the hole.

  3. I've been reading a lot of articles lately about making diy upside down planters. One day, I'll have to try this!

  4. Nice! I'm still in love with the upside-down growing idea. Had moderate success with it last year, in various growing vessels, including a shopping bag with a small hole snipped in the bottom. :-)

    This year, I'm growing a tomato out the centre drainage hole of a regular (cheap landscapers) hanging planter. It already comes with hangy-things, so all I had to do was feed in the tomato from the bottom and fill it with soil!

  5. VERY cool!Great pictures - thanks for sharing.

  6. Hi Mr. BT! I was excited to see you do this experiment, because I had tried doing upside down tomatoes in an upside-down plastic one gallon milk jug a few years ago. I did not have good results...I'm sure I must have done something wrong though. I cut the bottom out and threaded the plant up through the pouring part, and hung it up with twine in full sun in the proper time of year for here. I used Miracle Gro soil, and watered regularly. I will be really interested in how yours turns out! Please be sure to keep us informed!!! I like the look of your potato salad container!!! Sweet!!! LOL! :)

  7. With such a tiny container, you are going to have to water that beast like crazy. I did a tomater in a 5-gallon bucket and still had to water it every day.

  8. Very cool Mr BT. But the real question is...what in the world did you do with 5 lbs of potato salad!

  9. Very clever way to recycle and make a happy home for your vegetable plants!

  10. I hope it works for you. Mitchell did a Topsy Turvy tomato last year and it was a complete failure. We couldn't keep it wet enough - the water wanted to run down the sides of the "bag" and not get into the root ball. He got lots of leaves for the first couple of weeks and then nothing. Your smaller container may be easier to manage. Fortunately the toms in the "normal" garden did well. Good luck!

  11. Very clever! But after looking at your pix, I'm wondering what the advantage is of hanging it upside down? Couldn't they just grow out of the top?

  12. That Bloomin' Gardener,

    Thanks. I'll be sure to update the post.

    Art and Chel,
    Thanks. I wonder if some kind of rubber fixture used in plumbing around the cut hole would keep the stem of the plant from rubbing against the cut plastic and being cut or scrapped.


    You should it is fun.


    Really good idea to use a hanging planter. When I made it I was wishing I hadn't tossed out my old hanging baskets to make more with.

    And Sow My Garden Grows,

    You're welcome and I hope you give it a try.

    Dirty Girl,



    I was looking at an empty milk jug too wondering if it could be adopted for this purpose. I think I'm going to give it a try.


    I was wondering about the watering too but since I made this I haven't had to water at all. I think the rains have helped some, but I'm kind of surprised how little watering I've had to dedicate to this.


    Tossed most of it in the trash, unfortunately. Whenever we have a grill someone always brings one of these containers of potato salad and it never gets finished.




    Thanks for sharing your experience with the bags, I think maybe I'll stay away from those.


    I've thought about just making a standard hanging pot out of the container. I really only did it to experiment, but one benefit I can see is perhaps that you get to grow two plants and double your harvest.

  13. I'm very curious to see how this works out for you!

  14. Doesn't it feel good to use things you have laying around in a useful way?! You did leave *me* hanging upside down a while after the first photo (maybe that will clear out my ear buzz, lol), trying to wrap my brain around why your upside-down peppers were growing on the top and didn't even look like peppers! And I didn't realize you have Krogers in IL! Maybe I'll jury-rig an upside container for the tomato seedlings I still haven't planted out yet.

  15. That was interesting. I hope you get a good crop.

  16. I got the commercial version of your pepper planter. You want to make sure you have some vermiculite or moisture control potting soil in there, or you will be watering every day.

    Either way, the upside down garden craze is great!



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