How Do You Plant Tomatillo?

Written by: Lars Nyman

Growing Tomatillo

Growing Tomatillo

"Discover the joy of gardening by learning how to plant tomatillo. This detailed guide will unravel the fascinating secrets behind the growth cycle of the tomatillo plant, demystifying the process for beginners and experienced gardeners alike. From sowing the tiny tomatillo seeds to harvesting bright, ripe fruits, we cover it all! Our article, "How Do You Plant Tomatillo?", aims to offer practical tips and strategies for successful tomatillo cultivation. Written by gardening enthusiasts, we've carefully curated this guide to foster a green thumb in every reader. So, whether you're aiming to dip your toes in the world of gardening or looking to expand your plant repertoire, our guide will provide you with all the necessary knowledge to make your tomatillo planting venture a fruitful one. Keep reading for a comprehensive look into the enchanting journey of tomatillo growth from seed to harvest."

How Do You Plant Tomatillo?


Choose a sunny location in your garden with well-drained soil. Tomatillos thrive in full sun, so aim for at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Clear any weeds or debris from the area before planting.

Seeds vs Transplants

You can start tomatillos from seeds indoors or purchase transplants from a local nursery. Starting from seeds allows for more variety options, while transplants provide a head start. If you choose to start from seeds, sow them indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area.


Dig holes for transplants or seedlings, spacing them at least 3 feet apart. Place the plants in the holes, ensuring the top of the rootball is level with the soil surface. If using seeds, lightly cover them with soil, about 1/4 inch deep. Gently press the soil around the plants to secure them.


Water tomatillos deeply immediately after planting. Subsequently, water them regularly, providing approximately 1 inch of water per week. Adjust watering frequency based on weather conditions to prevent over or under-watering.


Tomatillos benefit from fertilization. Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, according to the package instructions. Generally, it is recommended to fertilize every 3-4 weeks during the growing season.


Since tomatillo plants can grow tall and produce heavy fruit, they may require support. Install stakes or cages at the time of planting to provide stability and prevent branches from breaking under the weight of the plant.


Tomatillos are ready to harvest when the fruit fills the husk and turns bright green or yellow, depending on the variety. Gently twist or cut the fruit from the plant, leaving the husks attached. Harvest regularly to encourage continued fruit production.

Tools and Supplies

  • Garden gloves
  • Trowel
  • Compost or organic matter
  • Tomatillo seeds or transplants
  • Stakes or cages
  • Watering can or hose
  • Balanced fertilizer (e.g., 10-10-10)
  • Pruning shears

What Is A Tomatillo And Why Should I Plant It?

Tomatillos, or Physalis philadelphica, are native to Mexico and members of the nightshade family. Tomatillos look similar to green tomatoes at first sight, but their paper-like husks make them easy to differentiate from other tomato varieties. Known for their use in Mexican cuisine, tomatillos provide a tart and tangy flavor. They can be used to create salsa, sauces, and even desserts! Along with being super flavorful, tomatillos are very nutritious and can provide a healthy boost to any meal.

The Best Time To Plant Tomatillos

Tomatillos can be planted in pots or in gardens. If you choose to plant your tomatillos in pots, you’ll need to consider the container size and placement of your potted plants as they won’t need to following the same climate or soil restrictions as plants grown in larger gardens. The best time to start planting tomatillos is late spring or early summer. Make sure to start your tomatillos indoors 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost to give them enough time to germinate and become hardy enough to survive outside.

How To Plant Tomatillos

Once you’ve selected an appropriate site to plant your tomatillos - either inside a pot or in your garden - it’s time to start getting your space ready for planting. As mentioned before, soil should be well-draining and have a good level of fertility. You also want to make sure that the pH level is around 7 – 7.5. To get the most out of your tomatillos, add a good layer of compost prior to planting.

To plant, dig a hole that is a couple of inches deep, and gently place your tomatillo seedling into the hole. Make sure the husk is still intact andit shouldn’t be covered with too much dirt. As the tomatillo grows, give it plenty of water and a dry, sunny spot in your garden or in the container. Once the plant is 6-8 inches tall, choose your fruit and leave the remaining fruit to continue to mature.


Tomatillos can be a great addition to any garden or container space. With the right amount of care, you can ensure a bountiful harvest of the delicious and nutritious Mexican fruits this season.

FAQ: Growing Tomatillo

1. When is the best time to plant tomatillo?

The best time to plant tomatillo is after the last frost date in your growing zone. Tomatillo plants love warm weather, so it's essential to wait until all chances of frost have passed and the soil has warmed up. In most regions, this typically occurs in late spring or early summer.

2. How do I prepare the soil for planting tomatillo?

Before planting tomatillo, it's important to prepare the soil properly. Start by clearing the area of any weeds or vegetation. Then, loosen the soil with a garden fork or tiller to a depth of at least 8 inches. Incorporate organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve the soil's fertility and drainage.

3. Can I grow tomatillo in containers?

Absolutely! Tomatillo can be successfully grown in containers as long as they have sufficient space. Choose a container with a diameter of at least 18 inches, with good drainage holes. Fill the container with a well-draining potting mix, and make sure to provide support for the plant as it grows.

4. How often should I water tomatillo plants?

Tomatillo plants require regular watering, especially during the hot summer months. Water deeply but infrequently, allowing the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings. Aim for around 1-2 inches of water per week, depending on the weather conditions.

5. Do tomatillo plants need support?

Yes, tomatillo plants generally benefit from some form of support. As they grow, they tend to become top-heavy and may lean or flop over. You can use stakes or cages to provide support for the plants and prevent them from falling. It's best to install the supports when planting to avoid damaging the roots later on.

6. How long does it take for tomatillos to mature?

Tomatillos typically take around 70-80 days to reach maturity after planting. However, the exact time can vary based on the variety and growing conditions. It's important to monitor the fruits' color and size. When the tomatillos are firm, filled the husk, and turn from green to yellow or purple (depending on the variety), they are ready for harvest.

7. Can tomatillos cross-pollinate with tomatoes?

No, tomatillos cannot cross-pollinate with tomatoes. Although they belong to the same family, Solanaceae, they are different species with separate pollination requirements. Tomatillos are primarily bee-pollinated, while tomatoes are self-pollinated. You can safely plant tomatillos and tomatoes close to each other without worrying about cross-pollination.

8. How do I harvest tomatillos?

When the tomatillos are mature and ready for harvest, gently twist or cut them off the plant. The fruits should come away easily from the stem. It's best to harvest tomatillos when they reach their full size and have filled the husk but before the husks start to split or turn brown. Harvesting regularly promotes further fruit production.

9. What are some common pests and diseases that affect tomatillo plants?

Some common pests that may affect tomatillo plants include aphids, tomato hornworms, and flea beetles. It's important to regularly inspect your plants and take appropriate measures to control these pests. Tomatillos are generally resistant to many diseases, but they may occasionally suffer from fungal infections, such as powdery mildew or wilt. Ensure good air circulation and avoid overhead watering to minimize the risk.

10. Can I save seeds from tomatillos for future planting?

Absolutely! To save seeds from tomatillos, choose fully ripe and healthy fruits. Remove the husks and scoop out the seeds. Rinse the seeds thoroughly to remove any pulp or residue. Allow the seeds to dry completely, preferably on a paper towel, before storing them in a cool, dry place. Properly saved tomatillo seeds can be viable for several years.

Having only experienced the joy of having homegrown tomatillos for the past few years, I can confidently say that I've had great success with the crop without too much extra effort. It's a little like nurturing a slightly more temperamental but more exciting version of a tomato, and I can think of no better way to add a unique flavor to your cooking. Planting tomatillo is a wonderful and rewarding endeavor for any enthusiastic gardener, and I highly encourage everyone to give it a try.

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