1-3" fruit resembling a tomato, often found with a green color. Green fruits actually ripen to yellow. There is also a purple ripening variety. Fruits have a marginally tomato-like flavor, but it is unique in its own right.
A small annual with a spreading growth habit. Plants may grow to 2-4ft, but if left unstaked, will spread out radially for a few feet.
In colder climates, flowering and fruiting will continue until temperatures cool or frosts begin. Sunset Zones: All zones USDA: All zones
Optimal growing conditions are similar to that of the tomato, although the tomatillo may grow slightly better in warmer areas than the tomato. Keep plants watered throughout the growing season. Maturity ranges from 80-120 days.
By seeds, established plants can be used to root stem cuttings.
Tomatillo seeds are usually fairly easy to germinate, though germination time can be a bit longer than other vegetable seeds.
1) Prepare for planting. Tomatillo seeds should be sprouted in small containers, preferably 4" or smaller. In-ground germination is not recommended because conditions are not as easily controlled. Use a standard potting mix that is well drained. Make sure potting mix is damp prior to planting the seeds. With very small seeds such as Tomatillo, watering overly dry soil can cause the seeds to dislodge from their position and sink deep into cracks in the soil. Seeds that sink deeply into soil will not be able to reach the soil surface once germinated.
2) Plant seeds. Plant seeds 1/4" deep in the soil. Cover with soil and water carefully. Over watering can cause fungal growth which leads to seed rot. Excess water can also bury seeds deep in the soil where they will not be able break the surface. Water when the soil surface just begins to dry. Multiple seeds can be planted in a single starter container, but should be thinned once seedlings appear so only a single plant remains.
3) Germination. Soil should be kept consistently warm, from 70-85F. Cool soils, below about 60-65F, even just at night, will significantly delay or inhibit germination. Hot soils above 95F will also inhibit germination.
4) Care of seedlings. Once a few true leaves have developed, seedlings should be slowly moved outside (if sprouted indoors) to ambient light. Care should be taken not to expose seedlings to direct, scorching sun so plants may need to be hardened off via slow sun exposure. Hardening off can be done using a shaded or filtered light location, as well as protection from strong winds, rain or low humidity. Hardening off time varies, but can take 5-10 days.
5) Planting out. Plant in the ground once danger of frost has past and daytime temperatures consistently reach 65F.
Germination time: 2-6 weeks under ideal conditions.
Fruits can be eaten fresh but are usually used to make salsas or used as flavoring.
Native to Mexico and Central America. The tomatillo has long been an important crop plant in this part of the world, dating back to the days of the Aztecs and Mayans.