How to Grow Tomatillo

Overview

Known in its native Mexico as tomate verde or green tomato, tomatillos are similar to the tomato but firmer. Shaped like Chinese lanterns, tomatillos are rounded and the fruit is housed in papery thin husks. Tomatillos are bushy plants that can grow 3 to 4 feet high and just as wide. Due to plant size, tomatillos often need staking support in the garden. Tomatillos have a flavor similar to a tangy lemon and are used as an ingredient in many recipes for stews and salsas. During growing season tomatillos will continue to bear fruit until the frost.

Step 1

Choose a spot with full sunlight to plant tomatillos. Prepare the soil by evenly spreading 1 to 2 lbs. of fruit and vegetable fertilizer. Use a shovel and rake to dig the fertilizer into the top 4 to 6 inches of ground.

Step 2

Plant tomatillo plants 3 feet apart. If planting multiple rows of tomatillo, keep the rows 3 to 6 feet apart.

Step 3

Water plants and keep soil moist. While tomatillo plants are drought tolerant, be sure to water the plants at least once a week during dry weather.

Step 4

Control weed growth by picking weeds by hand or using a gardening hoe. Mulching the area around the tomatillos will also discourage weeds and will help keep the area moist.

Step 5

Stake the tomatillos off of the ground. This will this support the plants as they grow and will also prevent slugs and snails from chewing and destroying the tomatillo plants.

Step 6

Harvest the tomatillos when the husk changes from green to tan. This will happen approximately 75 to 100 days after planting.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not overwater as this can cause root rot and kill the tomatillos. Avoid having the tomatillo lose its tangy flavor. Pick the tomatillo before the fruit turns yellow or purple and becomes fully ripe.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Mulch
  • Stakes

References

  • Iowa State University Horticulture Guide
  • Purdue Agriculture Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Who Can Help

  • Simply Recipes
Keywords: tomatillo plants, Mexican food, grow tomatillo

About this Author

Antonia James is a Florida-based writer who began writing full-time in 2009. After starting her career in the world of journalism she ventured into the courtroom as an attorney. James holds a Bachelor of Arts in media studies from Fordham University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Miami.