Monday, May 14, 2012

Upside Down Tomatoes by Carol King

The next couple of weeks is tomato planting time along the Front Range.  Day and night time temperatures are still too low to support tomato growth so "wall of waters"  is a good idea until night time temps reach 50+.

Planting "upside down" tomatoes appears to be a big fad right now. While the practice is nationwide, there are some Colorado-specific concerns from Planttalk Colorado.
"Plants know up from down!  Auxins (hormones produced in the growing tips) turn stem growth upwards. When tomato plants are hung, new stem growth makes a U-turn upwards. In Colorado’s windy weather, the weight of the stems in windy weather can pull or break off the stem. The new growth will make another U-turn upward.

Many on-line comments about hanging tomatoes talk about wind damage.  Some advertisements for upside down tomatoes suggest that they be hung from a tree or deck. Trees, roofed decks, and nearby houses cast shade and tomatoes need full sun for good fruit production.

Another concern is the size of the container (root size) to support a large tomato plant. One brand of hanging planters calls for two pounds of soil. This small rooting volume would not support a large tomato plant in our hot, windy climate. Only a small container size tomato variety would be suitable."

Be cautious about plant placement, remember to water frequently, and choose your variety wisely.

For more information about growing tomatoes in the home garden, see this fact sheet.