I’ve never used one, but for those of you who may be considering it, my friend Joe tried a couple this summer and sent me the following report:
This year I planted a celebrity tomato and a patio tomato plant in two of the hanging planters. (See celebrity 1 and patio tomato) The celebrity plant was almost 6 ft long and required a total hanging height of about 8 ft above ground. The patio tomato was only about 4 ft overall including the planter.
An estimated 30 - 40 tomatoes will be harvested from each plant. However, the tomatoes are undersized from what I would have expected from one planted in the ground. (See celebrity 3) The celebrity produced mostly tennis ball sized fruit and the patio mostly golf ball size or a little larger.
Pros of using these planters
1. The tomatoes were tasty though undersized (maybe I should have fertilized more)
2. No blight problem
3. The plants are producing for a longer season than those that I planted in ground soil because of the blight (See celebrity 2)
4. Overall the plants were healthier
Cons of using these planters
1. Undersized fruit
2. Frequent watering required (at least twice per day) and you cannot miss a day without a wilted plant
3. To help reduce the watering required I moved the plants to an area that had about 3 hours of direct sunlight but it was obvious that more sunlight was needed, so I moved them back to an area of about 8 hours of sunlight and production picked up again.
Next year I will probably use the hanging planters with the smaller plants of the cherry tomatoes and try to determine the correct amount of fertilizer.
As I advised him, I'm pretty sure the greenhouses add a little fertilizer with each daily watering and this is what he may want do as well. Also, there are some varieties that are recommended for containers. For those who'd like to have fresh maters and don't have/or want an inground plant, this sure looks like a good option. If it will prevent my annual blight fight, I may just hang 20 or 30 on my house next year - wouldn't that make a good blog photo - the tomato plants and me (Bev's input to the process) hanging from the rain gutter.