Why Are My Tomatillos Not Fruiting?

So, you’ve planted the plants and kept them alive, and you’re excitedly waiting for the harvest… But wait! Why are my tomatillos not fruiting, I hear you cry?

There can be a lot of different reasons for this, and we can offer you some great explanations – and ways to fix the problem. Read on!

Why Are My Tomatillos Not Fruiting?

Why Are My Tomatillos Not Fruiting?

In order for the flowers to turn to fruit, any plant needs to be pollinated. That is the key! If your tomatillos aren’t fruiting, chances are you have a pollination issue.

  • You need at least 2 tomatillos in order to get fruiting plants. They need to cross pollinate, and one plant cannot do this on its own.
  • High humidity can cause a problem with these plants, and pollination can be sporadic or even non-existent.
  • If you live in an area with high insecticide use, chances are there won’t be enough pollinators to get to all your plants.
  • Not enough sunlight will cause the plants to not perform at their best; they need a full sun position in order to thrive.
  • If the temperatures are too high consistently, it can make these plants unhappy. You need to find an area that is warm but not scorching.
  • Make sure that you are not overwatering. All plants need water, but too much can cause them problems like not fruiting.

Do Tomatillos Self Pollinate?

Some plants can pollinate themselves and get on with growing without the input of anything else – sadly tomatillos are not one of these plants.

They need to be cross pollinated – that is, have their pollen spread to and from another plant, in order to fruit effectively.

Pollinators such as bees and butterflies will do this job very effectively for you, but if you want to get scientific about it then you can use a paintbrush.

Carefully insert a paintbrush into the flower of one plant, then wipe it around gently. Without cleaning the brush, repeat the process on a flower from another plant.

You should do this with every flower you have on your plants, to ensure a good even distribution of pollen.

You may find that this is necessary if you are growing your tomatillos indoors, or if you live in an area without many insects.

If you are growing your own tomatillos, remember that you will need at least 2 plants if you want the fruit – unlike tomatoes, tomatillo pollen is too heavy to be carried on the breeze.

How Long Does It Take For Tomatillo Flowers To Fruit?

Although the growing season of many plants can seem a bit long, waiting for the fruit to arrive can be even more frustrating! Tomatillos, however, will not keep you waiting too long.

Generally, you will see the flowers start to set their fruits about a month after the flowers first appear.

However, if you have not planted them at the right time, or you have not followed the tomatillos’ favourite conditions, it may take longer.

Interestingly, plants grown in a greenhouse vs outdoor plants show very little difference in their fruiting times.

Although weather obviously plays a part, it is the length of the days that determines what a plant does and when.

They are all geared up to follow their own circadian rhythms and to fruit when they are ready, so be patient – the fruits will come!

What Month Do You Harvest Tomatillos?

Obviously you should check the ripeness of your tomatillos rather than just going on how long they’ve been growing, but there are some general guidelines.

From late July onwards, your tomatillos should be just about ready to start harvesting.

You can give the papery husks a little squeeze to check on the size of the fruit inside – it’s best not to open them up to have a peep!

They will be ready when they have almost filled the husk, but are not yet so big that they burst out of it.

These plants are very good at producing a lot of fruit,. so you should be happily munching on tomatillos for a long time after harvesting!

It is generally recommended that you only need 2 or 3 plants – any more and you will be processing tomatillos right up to Christmas!

Can You Eat Tomatillos That Aren’t Ripe?

You can eat these little green beauties when they are not ripe, and it won’t kill you – but it won’t be as pleasant an experience as if you wait until they’re ready!

When they are fully ripe they will have a sharp, tangy flavour. Unripe ones will be much more tart, and may be too sour for many people.

This being said, some of us really like a sour flavour, and these make an interesting contrast when paired with another, sweeter vegetable.

Some people say that unripe tomatillos are toxic – while not strictly true, they certainly won’t be the nicest thing you have ever put in your mouth.

Also, eating tomatillos raw is not the nicest experience – they develop far more of a sweet flavour when they are cooked.

Remember that the papery husk surrounding the fruit is not edible, and they are covered with a sticky residue that will need to be washed off before you use them.

They contain a huge array of health benefits for the body – not least in a cancer-fighting capacity – so these should definitely be on the menu.

This useful video gives you tips on how to check when your tomatillos are ripe:

Final Words

Tomatillos are not the most fussy plants out there, but they do have certain things that make them less likely to fruit.

Now that you have an idea about why, you can do something about it, and you’ll be enjoying a fantastic harvest of tomatillos very soon!

Leave a Reply