How to Grow Tomatillos

tomatillo flower

Looks innocent enough.

A relative of tomatoes and even more closely to husk cherries, tomatillos are easy enough to grow. Some gardeners have expressed difficulties with pollination, so here are 2 things it helps to know:

1. Although they have both male and female parts on the same flower, they do not self-pollinate well. Which means:

2. Just because you get a husk, it doesn’t mean you’ll get a fruit.

For tomatillos it is best to start the seeds indoors about 4 weeks before the last expected frost, and transplant to the garden about 2 weeks after the last spring frost.

You will need to plant at least 2 because of the pollination issue, and let them intermingle well.
If you live in a hot region, natural pollination will be more difficult.

So if you find you are getting nothing but husks, or if you want to insure fruit, you would be better to hand pollinate some by using a small paintbrush to move pollen from one plant to another.

tomatillos plants

2 plants 6 weeks after transplanting

If you are still not getting fruit, trying picking a flower from one plant and gently rubbing it inside the flower of another.

Using these methods, we are just now starting to get husks that have a small fruit inside, so we will probably back off for a while to see if they will produce on their own.

baby tomatillo

See the shape of the little fruit?

As we understand it, tomatillos can be quite prolific as long as that pollen gets moved.

Botanical Name: Physalis ixocarpa
Spacing: 3 ft.
Hardiness: Almost everywhere there is sufficient time.
Days to maturity: About 2 months after transplanting.
Harvest: When the husks break open.
Yield: With good pollination, 2 plants will give enough to enjoy fresh and preserve or share.
Storage: 4 weeks fresh in the fridge, or can. Especially good as Salsa Verde.

June 29, 2014  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,   Posted in: How to Grow, Tomatoes, Tomatillos & Ground Cherries

3 Responses

  1. #Tomatillo Growing Tips | - June 30, 2014

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  2. Marie - August 4, 2015

    How long from pollination to fruit maturity?

  3. gj - August 4, 2015

    Good question, I never really paid attention to that. I did notice it is similar to tomatoes. I can tell you to harvest when the paper covering begins to turn brown, or when the fruit fills the husk. We haven’t begun harvesting here yet, after transplanting the tomatilloes to the garden at the end of May. Should be soon though.

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