Growing Tomatillo

Physalis ixocarpa : Solanaceae / the nightshade family

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

(Best months for growing Tomatillo in New Zealand - cool/mountain regions)

  • S = Plant undercover in seed trays
  • T = Plant out (transplant) seedlings
  • 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 70°F and 81°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 28 inches 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

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?
26 Mar 20, Robin Duval-Smith (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Compared with a cape gooseberry which I have, how large does a single fruit of tomatillo grow? Is it rich in vitamin C...what other food values?
01 Apr 20, Anon (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
Check on the internet.
12 Oct 13, (New Zealand - temperate climate)
TOMATILLO (Physalis ixocarpa) can be purchased in New Zealand from or Both ship outside of New Zealand
07 Oct 13, (South Africa - Humid sub-tropical climate)
Please let me know where I can find "tomatillo" seed. I am living in Pretoria, South Africa and I would love to taste these (for me) new kind of tomatoes. Thank you! Best regards, Elsabé Visagie
25 Nov 13, Mima (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
Hi, There is a nursery near Hartebeespoort dam, where I bough tomatillo plants a month ago. Google Mountain Herb Estate, the New Zealand web site doesn't allow me to post the page link. Cheers Mima
07 Feb 13, damian reddington (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
can I eat my tomatillo raw?, can i eat before they turn purple
07 Dec 12, val (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
where can I buy Physalis Alkekengi seeds in New Zealand? cheers Val B.

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This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. GardenGrow is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
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