Growing Tomatillo

Physalis ixocarpa : Solanaceae / the nightshade family

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

(Best months for growing Tomatillo in Australia - tropical regions)

  • S = Plant undercover in seed trays
  • T = Plant out (transplant) seedlings
  • 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 - 1.5 m. 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

20 Apr 22, ishika (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
The content written in your post is very beautiful,
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.
13 Sep 19, Julie Elliott (Australia - temperate climate)
Bought one tomatillo at the green grocer near me. It was the 1st time I'd seen them selling tomatillo. I left it in the fruit bowl a few weeks and watched it shrivel up. Then I squished it open and left it another week or more to dry out and tonight I pricked out the seeds. Tomorrow I'll plant some seeds in a seed punnet and leave it on my north facing kitchen window sill to germinate. I'll do a punnet each week. The leftover seeds I'll keep for next year. Hopefully some will sprout. I travelled with a Mexican friend (from Mexico City) many years back and saw how she (and her maid) cooked them. I especially loved "drowned eggs". And I saw tomatillos growing wild in southern Mexico near the Guatemalan boarder. My memory is that it was a fairly lightly foliaged shrub like plant. Wish me luck.
10 May 18, (Australia - arid climate)
I got 2 tomatoes, but one died. Will they grow from cuttings or do I have to find another seedling (tomatoes or tomatillos ? ed:)
11 May 18, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
You are in tomatillos and talking about tomatoes - confused. Put a cutting (2 or 3) in a jar of water and they should sprout roots in a week or so I believe. If tomatoes - take a slice of a good ripe one and laying it in some soil and cover it with some soil or potting mix. The seeds should germinate in a week or two.
06 Feb 18, Michael Williams (Australia - temperate climate)
I've been growing tomatillos for six years in inner suburban Melbourne. They went totally crazy this January, and I think this will be the best crop yet. Here's my blog entry from 2013 which includes a salsa verde recipe There are loads of recipes, since these are used extensively in Mexican cooking. Go nuts :-)
15 May 19, Janelle locke (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi I’m desperately looking to grow tomatillos do you know where I can get seeds or a cutting ? Thanks janelle
17 May 19, Patti (Australia - temperate climate)
We just chopped ours all down as the season in Adelaide is finishing. Planting guide is similar to tomato. Original seeds I got from Bunnings the “world seed collection” but have also got some online trying to find different varieties. This is a great plant, got 6 months productivity Cheers Patti
02 Dec 17, LEah (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi I’m in The Riverina nsw and I have just planted a couple tomatillo seedlings, hoping for the best, what area are you in? Any tips on growing them?
Showing 1 - 10 of 62 comments

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