Introduction: Matt's Original Inverted Planter A.k.a IPlanter.

Picture of Matt's Original Inverted Planter A.k.a IPlanter.

Step 1: Why.

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The logical choice for my indoor gardening is 1: container and 2: hanging. So after doing a few searches on the net I had come across a few options. There were of course the usual hanging planters that are really nothing more than a regular pot with strings tied to a ceiling hook. These really didn't appeal to me due to previous experiences where the water flowed down through the soil and filled the overflow basin at the bottom. Another option is hanging inverted planters which have been around for a very long time. Some in a much older design made from terra cotta in a traditional Mexican style and a newer one made of plastic that had internal foam spacers for dirt/water containment.
This naturally put my mind into make it myself mode. Whenever I get one of my project ideas. I start drawing different options in paint. I wanted it to be a conical-type container for water retention purposes. After drawing a few designs the one I decide on was to use a inverted 2 liter soda bottle with a few modifications to make it better suited for planter use.

Step 2: What.

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You will need
1- two or three liter soda bottle.
4- equal lengths of string.
1- hook to hang it from.
1- piece of plastic wrap. (used to cover the opening at the bottom of the planter)
A metal tool such as a pliers or locking pliers.
A scissors, dremel or other cutting tool.
A vine variety plant. Tomato, bean etc.
A heat gun. I purchased mine a while back at Harbor Freight for $10. It also works great for thawing pipes.

So without further rambling here we go.

Arrange your parts and supplies on a level surface in an area where you will be able to hang the planter from to fill it with soil. (Basements are a great place.)

Step 3: Melty

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Stand the soda bottle upright and heat around the perimeter of the mouth slightly above where the cone portion begins.

Step 4: Push It.

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Next push down on the bottle mouth using the pliers, I find it works best to heat on a low setting while pushing down as you will see in these next two pictures. Be careful not to get too close to the plastic or stay in one spot as it will melt a hole completely through the bottle.

Step 5: Now What?

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Here is the bottle with the mouth pushed inward. I forgot to remove the cap ring before I started so I had to carefully cut it off afterward. Big Surprise! It's easier before it is pushed in and surrounded by hot plastic.

Step 6: Cut.

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Then I cut the original bottom off the bottle using my dremel with a cutting wheel. I prefer the dremel because it is fast and it melts the edges slightly so they are not sharp. You can do the same or use whatever cutting tool you have at your disposal.

Step 7: Punch.

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Next come the three holes at what is now the top of the planter. Space them evenly and tie three of the four strings in each hole and then tie the three together at the opposite end.

Step 8: Ready, Set, Plant!

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Here it is, ready for a plant and soil.

Step 9: Make Sure That Only the Plant Gets Water, Not Your Floor!

Picture of Make Sure That Only the Plant Gets Water, Not Your Floor!

I took this picture to demonstrate how the water can sit in the bottom of the planter for the roots to soak up. With this method, the chance of leaks are virtually non-existent providing you don't get crazy with the watering.

Step 10: Traumatize Your Plant.

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Next separate the plant roots from the soil and gently push the roots into the bottom of the planter. At this point I hung the planter from basement ceiling after I tied the fourth string to the knot of the other three. This makes it much easier to fill.

Step 11: Wrap It Up.

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Hold the plant in place, push the root ball off to the side from the inside of the planter. Then cover the opening with the small piece of plastic wrap. You do not need to wrap it tight in the area around the roots, just the rest of the opening where there are no roots, the weight of the soil will hold it all in place.

Step 12: Top It Off.

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Fill to the top with soil.

Step 13: Hang the Thing Already.

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Hang from the hook on the ceiling or other strong support in a well lit location and water. You will see some water run down the sides. No need to over water. Keep in mind that the first few days to a week the plant will be in shock from the transplant. Once it establishes a strong root network it will thrive.

Step 14: Success.

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Here are my three IPlanters in my bay window. From left: ITomato 1, ITomato 2, and the first IBean.

Step 15: Look Up, See Green.

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This last one is a shot looking up underneath the planter I made.

You have unlimited creative options that other inverted planter makers have come up with such as covering the outside with decorative cloth or paint. Using other larger containers such as buckets, bags or jugs. This is my method which you can use as a reference or starting point. A few people have expressed concern about sun damage to the roots. I never experienced that, the only thing that did happen is some of the roots on the outside actually started growing leaves! Again, you could use an opaque container, cover it with something or paint it to prevent this. I didn't because I thought it looked cool being able to see the roots.

If you like my Instructable please vote, I need the encouragement to write more!


jgillette (author)2012-07-06


mattl (author)jgillette2015-08-18

A larger bottle will certainly produce larger happier plants. There are also a few generic brand 3 liter soda bottles out there.

LeaL2 (author)2015-07-23

I've been reading on and on about hanging tomatoes & other various garden ideas, trying to find the best option for my situation. I have to say that your Instructable was the best yet. Not only is it a great idea, but it was an entertaining read as well, complete with easy-to-follow instructions and random humor! I loved it; thanks so much for sharing!

mattl (author)LeaL22015-08-18

Thanks for the kind comments, happy planting!

Tannius (author)2015-08-18

Cool concept. I've been using soda bottles as planters for a while myself. One thing I've learned is if you use the green plastic, you don't have to worry about algae or root burn inside the bottle. I also use an old soldering iron to cut the plastic. Make sure you do it outside in a well ventilated area, fumes are toxic..

Also if you cut a smaller hole in the bottom of the bottle (now the top) you keep the ribs which would give you more structural stability and you can put the rope at the ends of the ribs in the plastic.

mattl (author)Tannius2015-08-18

Green bottles work great. Of course you can paint as well. Your suggestion of cutting a smaller section off is a good one.

xllskippyllx (author)2015-05-27

that very smart

crochetbug11 (author)2015-05-26

Seriously cool!
Bought a topsy-turvy planter, only lasted one season! Too much to try again!
Can use a hairdryer, as I use for embossing and it works!
Will send pics if plants survive!

bbullet (author)2015-04-03

Very nice project, I will make one with my kids to plant tomatos. Thanks for sharing it.

AbdulQ (author)2014-09-18

This is a great and unique idea

lomeli_martha (author)2014-05-22

I loved!!...

photogrlnc (author)2013-05-25

Great job. I was just shopping today for a decent hanging planter that doesn't leak on the floor.

mharkison (author)2012-06-19

Finally! A way to have houseplants my cat can't tear out! Thank you! :)

ondoratmo (author)2012-03-30

thanks for inspiring me, this is one of answer of urban agriculture technique.
I'll try to develop it.

geckomage (author)2011-11-21

hey, does this method work with all plants or just some? because i know many different plants have their roots which grow towards gravity, and the plant which defies gravity. does the inverted thing trick it? >:3 im decent with plants. but my specialty is electronics and being a redneck(what would the world be like without em). so please excuse the sillyness of my question :P

AstralQueen (author)2009-09-09

I use this kind of planter to plant my cat's cat nip. This way, he can't knock the pots over and roll around in the crushed leaves and dirt and then later on sleep on my bed with clean sheets leaving dirt marks and soil all over the place. :D

Silver Diva (author)AstralQueen2011-07-17

Sounds like some parties I attended in the 70's!

captain Jack (author)2011-05-31

you just HAVE to mess with the order of things, don't you....

mattl (author)captain Jack2011-05-31

Yes. I have two tomatoes hanging off each end of my clothes line poles right now as a matter of fact.

tinic (author)2011-03-16

Thanks for the tutorial but I'm wondering why people use this technique: because of lack of space?

janetsellers08 (author)2011-03-11

Great job in the instructions, and inspiring, too. thanks.

desya (author)2010-11-25

I knit with plarn (plastic bag yarn) could be used to build a harness if you are worried about the support holes...2 for 1 recycling.......

desya (author)2010-11-24

ok this is really smart always was annoyed at the amount of water lose to what I had just watered

rpm1960 (author)2010-06-01

yes, I was concerned about string strength as well, especially since the soil will get really heavy once it soaks up water.  I'm putting one together (cilantro seeds in the top) but will suspend it in the red mesh bag my store bought onions came in.  It won't look as dainty as these, though~

redorchestra (author)2010-04-29

For the people worried about the rope splitting the bottle you might find some small grommits that would ease the strain, or thicker string like shoe laces would spread the weight more.
I am going to make a few of these but I am going to poke small holes in the bottom of the bottle, ( the one that is cut off and discarded) invert it and re-insert it. It will be a sprinkler for the soil, so it doesn't just run down the side. and it will retain some moisture, so the soild doesn't dry out too easily.

darrylm (author)2010-04-20

This is so awesome. I plan to plant 5 this year alone. Hoping my tomato seeds do better as I only have 2 thriving seedlings and its been 4 weeks! My idea for this will be to try the boiling water method as I do not have a heat gun. I think I will try running string down through the hole and attaching it to the threaded part of the bottle. Then as it is heating up, i can pull upwards and hopefully it will invert. I will let you know. THANKS AGAIN!

darrylm (author)darrylm2010-04-20

OH YEAH! For those frugal gardeners like myself. Plant some herbs on the top. I was told this is a great method for doubling your planter space. Seems to be quite popular.

joeymmeezz (author)2010-02-26

 im new at this but don't yon need something to support the plant
(if it was a tomatoe plant)

mattl (author)joeymmeezz2010-02-27

No, anything you can grow in the container that size should support itself.  You'll notice in a few comments below about how this really isn't a suitable growing method for anything larger than cherry or plum tomatoes and at largest Roma. However they require more growing space and nutrients so a larger container should probably be used.

joeymmeezz (author)mattl2010-02-27

 ok thank you

joeymmeezz (author)2010-02-26


laresekae (author)2009-01-18

if you don't have a heat gun, you could probably dip the top of the bottle in a pot of hot water to soften it enough to do the job...

mattl (author)laresekae2009-01-19

Yes, that should work as long as it is very hot, possibly boiling. A hair dryer may also do the trick.

riteandritual (author)mattl2010-02-10

 Just under boiling is usually fine. I tried to 'sanitize' a soda bottle once using boiling water (this was before I heard of chemical horrors that seep out of them at high temps) and ended up with a wrinkled, deformed lump of a bottle. 
I guess the most tricky thing would be to localize the heat, and get the temp right, not too hot...

Kaber (author)2009-12-25

is the string in the holes of the bottle sturdy enough to hold a plant once it is full of tomatoes? I would think it'd be heavy and the holes in the thin plastic bottle would rip. How well does it do with weight?

mattl (author)Kaber2009-12-28

That really depends on the type of string you use and thickness.  The stuff I used had a weight rating of 40lbs.  It never tore through the plastic bottle either.  If you are concerned about that happening I would just reinforce the holes with a little hot glue.  If you use a paper punch to make the holes you will get nice clean cuts.  Circles are Very strong and can support a lot of weight.

HolyTracker (author)2009-12-25

Love it! 3 done and more in the way! Thanks for sharing the idea

TheJman (author)2009-05-17

Cool planter but I just have a question or two..How well will the plastic bottle hold up when there is a full load of tomatoes on the plant? Will the 3 holes hold without splitting and letting the whole works fall?

sgsidekick (author)TheJman2009-08-12

If you're worried about the weight of the fruit, I'd just run a piece of duct tape around the top, folding half of it inside as well, then punch a few more holes...maybe 6 in total, to run the string hangers through. And I'd use garden twine, not just any ole string, as the hanger. Just my 2 cents...

Kaber (author)sgsidekick2009-12-25

oops. I should have waited till this page to ask the same question. I was thinking of running the string/twine under the bottom (or inverted top) as well.
thanks for the further ideas.

rdemunck (author)2009-10-29

Wow!  This is great.  What a fascinating idea.  Thanks!

mark429 (author)2009-08-10

Very Nice Instructable! I am going to be converting some 3 liter bottles this afternoon!!! (maybe some 1 & 2 liter bottles as well) I can't believe my mom paid $15 for a Topsy Turvy when we could've made one of these for free (practically) Thanks Again. Good Job!

coyotehope (author)2009-07-23

Thank you this one is not to much work and a Very excellent starting point for me. Thank you so much for sharing!

Ninzerbean (author)2009-07-14

This is great because my cat won't be able to dig in the dirt - I haven't had a house plant in 3 years because of him.

zuppod3 (author)2009-06-29

EXCELLANT ! Well written and researched. You must be an engineer or tech.

plum0214 (author)2009-06-25

I can't belive I bought one from the store before I saw your's. Your's does the same thing and is alot cheaper. Great job..

greybunny (author)2009-06-21

I like the idea but yours is the only one I've seen that looks nice and feasible. I think I'll make one when I get home with a flowering vine.

demee62 (author)2009-05-17

Great idea!! I know that I can master this one. I can have me a garden this year that the dog can't destroy.

arirang777 (author)2009-05-09

This detail alone is the responsible for pushing me out of the sofa and moved me into making my own, inverted conical hanger, or as you titled it: iPlanter. Thanks Mattl. Fave'd it already

bizgold2000 (author)2009-05-03

If your looking for a larger container, We have found heavy thickness One Gallon containers from Apple Juice do the same trick as 2 liter bottles and once again , they are thicker and still work with the heat gun method. Steve Smith

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