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How to grow Tomatillos from Seed

How to grow Tomatillos from Seed


How to grow Tomatillos from Seed

Tomatillo seeds are surprisingly easy to start from seed! We simply sow the seeds directly into the ground or in large pots and keep them watered and moist until they sprout. They take off quite quickly, and it's good to thin out the extra seedlings. You can start them indoors, but starting them outdoors can be very successful, too, and requires no transplanting. The seedlings do seem to have some cold-hardiness when very young if started outdoors, but if you do have a frost, you can cover them with an overturned pot to keep them warmer and happier. 



Tomatillo Growing Stages

Tomatillo Growing Stages

After they sprout, they'll quickly grow in a vine like way, blooming with dainty yellow flowers that attract bees of all kinds.

Tomatillos like company: You do want to have at least two or three tomatillo plants growing near each other for best pollination, as just one tomatillo plant will not likely produce very much fruit.

You'll see tiny little tomatillos start to develop after flowing, these will grow larger over time, and inside the husks there will be small fruit that increases in size through the summer to fill out the husk. The husks will feel empty until the tomatillos inside have had time to grow to their mature size.

When tomatillos mature, they will fill and even split the husk, and the fruit start turning yellow. That's when you know they're ready to pick! The longer they ripen, the more flavorful they are. We don't recommend eating small green unripe tomatillos, as they will be more bitter, sour, and do contain more solanine, which is mildly toxic if eaten in large quantities.  Tomatillos usually take about 85 days from seed to beginning of the harvest, so be patient. We are usually making batches of tomatillo salsa in late August and September. 



Tomatillos in Pots

How to Grow Tomatillos in Containers:

We planted the seeds directly in a large pot in March, and they sprouted in late April/May and quickly grew into large plants in June and July. They grow so easily, we don't bother starting them indoors. The large container on the above right had two tomatillo plants happily growing. In the pot on the right, we had native Canada Goldenrod volunteer to grow, so we left it along with some sunflowers and salvias to attract pollinators and provide a screen and fragrance. We had a great harvest of tomatillos! They do seem to grow very well in large pots, though we like to provide a support trellis for them as they get pretty unruly in the late summer. 


When to Plant Tomatillos:

We have found that tomatillo seeds overwinter nicely and will sprout when the weather warms up in the spring, so sure, you could sow the seeds in the fall. In fact, we have lots of volunteer tomatillo seedlings every spring where tomatillos had fallen in the fall and left for "reseeding" some plants for the following year. The seedlings seem to be slightly frost hardy as they sprout and do well even if we have some cold spells in late spring. 


Tomatillos in a Large Pot

You can grow Tomatillos in large Containers!
In the photo above, there a few too many tomatillo seedlings in this giant patio container. So we transplanted all but two and grew them alongside a jalapeno pepper plant and basil plants. This large patio pot was beautiful at the end of the summer! We provided a obelisk cage to contain the sprawling tomatillos and keep them growing upward.


Do tomatillos grow back every year?

They often do! Technically, they are annuals if grown in a zone with cold freezing winters, however, they will often reseed themselves from fallen un-harvested tomatillos that contain seeds that will typically sprout the following spring. They will sprout in abundance, so make sure to thin out the seedlings when very small. We like to replant the extras into other areas or into pots to share with gardening friends. :) d. 



Tomatillo Seeds

Tomatillo Growing Zone

You can also grow tomatillos as perennials in zones 10 and 11, so if you're in a climate that has warm weather year-round, you can grow them year-round! If you live in an area with cold winters, you can grow tomatillos during the spring/summer/fall months as annuals.



Tomatillo Salsa Recipe (Salsa Verde)

Tomatillos are great for adding to
recipes like stews, chile, roasted with other veggies,
and of course to make Salsa Verde!