Growing Tomatillo

Physalis ixocarpa : Solanaceae / the nightshade family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
      P P              

(Best months for growing Tomatillo in USA - Zone 7a regions)

  • P = Sow seed
  • Easy to grow. Grow in seed trays, and plant out in 4-6 weeks. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 21°C and 27°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 70 cm apart
  • Harvest in 10-14 weeks. Husk splits when fruit is ripe..
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Will happily grow in a flower border
  • Tomatillo Plant (CC BY-SA 3.0 WikiMedia)
  • Young tomatillo

NB Tomatillos are not self-fertile so you need to have at least two plants for cross-pollination. Tomatillos are from the same family as Cape Gooseberries, with a papery husk round the fruit.

Tomatillo plants are similar in growth to tomatoes and spread about 1 -1.5m . Can be supported but are happy spreading themselves around. The plants are very productive so 2 or 3 plants may be enough for the average household.

Tomatillos will cope with cooler weather than tomatoes. The fruit will swell to fill the husk as they ripen. Do not use fertiliser.

When buying seed, check that it is Ph. ixocarpa not Ph.peruviana otherwise you will grow Cape Gooseberries instead of Tomatillos.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Tomatillo

Use in spicy sauces with or to replace tomatoes.
They are the base of salsa verde in Mexican cookery.

Your comments and tips

22 Jan 23, Lyn McKenzie (New Zealand - temperate climate)
A plant that looks very like this plant has grown in my garden, presumably put there by the birds. It grows quite fast and has large and very soft, heart shaped leaves. The pictures I've seen have been yellow but saw it had a flower is purple, so now I'm confused. Any suggestions?
13 Oct 22, Douglas Cassan (Canada - Zone 5a Temperate Warm Summer climate)
Re tomatillos: I planted only one tomatillos plant (didn't realize I should have a spouse for it); fort several weeks it grew and grew but there were no indications of fruit; then the little yellow flowers started sprouting and producing fruit. I have made Salsa Verde, a delicious sweet potato/tomatillo bisque and spaghetti sauce, but I still have loads of tomatillos on my counter, in my fridge, in my freezer. This plant doesn't know how to quit. Frost is called for tonight so I suspect my plant will fall victim to winter pretty soon. My problem is that so many of the fruits were small, running from 1/2 to one inch across. Any suggestions for 2023 on how to get maybe less but larger fruit?
17 Oct 22, Anonymous (Canada - zone 4a Temperate Warm Summer climate)
Look up the internet about picking off the lateral growth. Where the leaf joins the main stem a piece of growth comes out there. Pick it off.
04 Aug 22, Hugh (USA - Zone 5a climate)
These grow fantastically in Western MA. Great yield. Several self-seeded plants around the property are doing ok. Amazing considering how dry it's been this summer.
06 Jul 22, Steve (USA - Zone 6a climate)
We have one tomatillo plant and it’s thriving but just found out we need a second plant for it to bear fruit. If I get another flowering tomatillo from the garden center, will it be too late? July 6th in zone 6a
20 Apr 22, ishika (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
The content written in your post is very beautiful,
24 Apr 21, Judy (USA - Zone 9b climate)
Hello , I live In Northern California .Our location is Inland from Ocean. We do get plenty of sun in summer months into October . Do I need to cover gooseberry in afternoon heat ? I got this plant from a friend .I am learning about this Gooseberry Tomato. I want to know whether I can grow this plant behind another taller Purple Tomatillo in a separate barrel about 2 feet away and achieve cross pollination successfully ? Thank you ,Judy
28 Apr 21, Anonymous (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Plants need to be planted at the right time of the year. If it is really hot then they will need more watering (if they can take the heat), like each day not each 2-3 days. If you want cross pollination then you need to plant at the same time if close together. A tall plant will shade a smaller plant and it will not grow well, end up thin and weak. I don't know if you can cross gooseberry with tomatillo. I answer questions here and I'm just a home gardener who grows about 20 different vegies.
26 Dec 20, Phil Rodwell (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi Free tomatillos from seed abt 7 years ago...this year they've grown to about 0.5m but all the leaves at the top of the main stems have started to shrivel and growth seems to have stopped. Any suggestions? I've planted fresh seed but it's December 26 so it may be a bit late.
30 Dec 20, (Australia - temperate climate)
Shriveling could be from hot sun, dry soil or fungi/disease. Suggested time to plant Sept-Oct.
Showing 1 - 10 of 99 comments

Hello , I live In Northern California .Our location is Inland from Ocean. We do get plenty of sun in summer months into October . Do I need to cover gooseberry in afternoon heat ? I got this plant from a friend .I am learning about this Gooseberry Tomato. I want to know whether I can grow this plant behind another taller Purple Tomatillo in a separate barrel about 2 feet away and achieve cross pollination successfully ? Thank you ,Judy

- Judy

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