Tomatillos not Fruiting

JayWomackJuly 14, 2011

This is my first time growing Tomatillos. I have one plant, which has been in the ground about two months. It's gone through several cycles of blossoms, the last of which has been much more prolific. During the first cycle, they just shriveled up and died. Though there have lots of bees, all of my plants have had problems with pollination. I've been doing a lot of hand pollinating, moving my pots around a bit, but I'm not sure if my problem is a lack of pollination, because I'm not sure about the characteristics of the plant. Anyway, any info would help.


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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

What's your weather and compare it to what they want. Since we have no other information or zero idea where you are, that's the best we can do.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 11:33PM
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My zone is 10, but I'm not sure how to find out what they want.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 11:54PM
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Just read in another post that Tomatillos are not self-pollinating. Thanks anyway.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 12:47AM
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Yep. I was going to suggest the problem may be that you need 2.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 11:02AM
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I would say that is exactly the issue here. You need at least 2 tomatillos to pollinate each other. I went through the very same thing recently. I planted one plant and watched it get very large and lush with many flowers but no fruit. I then read on this forum that I needed to get a second one. I planted another, much younger plant (well, probably a few months apart anyway), and within 2 weeks I started seeing fruit. It was like magic! both plants are now bearing large fruit and I am eagerly awaiting them to mature so I can make some salsa verde!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 12:17AM
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That's weird. My "pro" at the garden shop told me that I could essentially shake it, like you do a tomato plant, to release the pollin or whatever and I would start to see fruit. He's wrong, because I've been doing exactly that, and nothing, unlike my tomatoes, which are doing well because of it. Anyway, thanks for the advice.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 8:28PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Just like tomatoes, they will only set fruit within a specific air temperature and humidity level range. That is regardless of how many plants you have.

So while I agree that you get the best results with more than one plant, IF the pollen is viable it is possible to get a few fruit from a single plant.

Check out the FAQ here on Blossom Drop for more details.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 9:32PM
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Sunny_Dee(6a KCMO)

Dang it! I'm having the same problem. First time growing tomatillos and I only have 1 plant. It's a little late in the season for me to find another plant and get fruit right?

Should I just get rid of my single plant and put something else there to utilize the space at this point?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 3:25PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I missed the 'one plant' bit. I'll admit I've always grown 2+ plants so am not familiar with the issue, nor do I find cautions to grow two plants in my standard texts (e.g. Sunset Book of Edibles).

That is: I can find no refs in a brief search that say tomatillos are dioecious. The family is generally ~monoecious with some dioecious in Solanum.

Willing to be corrected.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 5:24PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

It is often said that at least two plants are needed and I have always had more than one. But I am a bit skeptical. How about letting your single plant grow as an experiment? Then report back later in the season. It's still early for fruit production in most places.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 5:35PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I have only one this year - shortage of pots - & will try to remember to report back.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 5:58PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

That would be interesting, Dan. Maybe Sunny Dee would like to participate too. It would be good to have two trials.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 6:53PM
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Are ground cherries the same way? I only have one ground cherry. Not ready to blossom yet but I wonder if I should try to start another one?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 7:52PM
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Sunny_Dee(6a KCMO)

Jim, I'm all for experimentation. My whole garden is an experiment this year. I'll leave the plant where it is and report back later.

As of right now, it has been one of the best plants out there. It is growing like a giant (didn't realize it would get SO big!) and flowers everywhere. The only pest that has bothered it are flea beetles which are just making it look like buckshot but not affecting it. I'm growing everything organically as well.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 1:28PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I went out and looked this AM and I've got maybe a half-dozen fruits on my one plant. We've had a difficult spring & everything here is ~ 3 wks behind. I'll report on how many pints of salsa verde I make this fall.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 3:26PM
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Before I planted the 2nd tomatillo in my garden, the first plant was growing super well and fast. It had lots of flowers but never any fruit. Once I got the 2nd, boom! It happened quickly. Maybe you can call around and ask local nurseries if they have any starts. It shouldn't matter if the plant is smaller than the first. They'll be able to pollinate each other.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 2:11AM
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jnfr(z5b CO)

I have gotten fruits on a single groundcherry, just to answer tracydr.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 1:24PM
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Sunny_Dee(6a KCMO)

I wanted to report back about my single tomatillo plant experiment. The plant was beautiful with very little pest/disease issues even though I had problems with other types of plants. It was huge!! But not one single fruit. I had a soil test done this spring as well and my soil is in awesome shape. This year I will grow two side by side and will let you know what I get. :-)

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 6:34PM
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Yes you need at least two but it also the rain that counts cuz they seem to produce and grow better with rain instead of water from the hose.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 12:57AM
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Hello, I have a similar question. This is also my first year growing tomatillos. I bought a big, sexy tomatillo plant from a local nursery, and plopped it down in my SFG in between some tomato plants. This thing has grown into a monster, with hundreds of beautiful yellow flowers and those awesome looking lanterns. I knew that the husks would grow first and then the tomatillos would fill out the husks. I did not know my plant would need a significant other to produce fruit. (Once I learned that, I ran to another store and bought my plant a stud.) When I look inside the husks, I see little green fruit, about the size of a (slightly shriveled) pea. I think they are starting to grow, but that could be wishful thinking, too. Are tomatillos suppose to look like peas when they first start out, or are those tomatillos never going to form? I've read many posts about empty husks and none of mine are empty, but the tomatillos are very small and I'm not patient enough to just wait and see what happens. Is it possible that my plant was getting what it needed in the nursery so the fruit will form? And now that it has a friend it will continue to produce? Any help or info would be greatly appreciated. Really wanting some green salsa!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 10:49PM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

Hi crystal - yes they start out small and grow to fill the sac.

Mine are about 12-18 inches so far this year - eagerly awaiting!

one note I'd make - is you don't need for them to be ripe. I have the purple tomatillo, and when ripe - they are too sweet for salsa verde. We would need to mix it half and half with tomatoes.

But picking them before being ripe, they were fine.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 10:11AM
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By the way, I've experienced problems with tomato hornworms on my tomatillos. So, keep a weathered eye on yours. Just like on tomatoes, the hornworm can devastate a tomatillo plant in just a few short days.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 5:53AM
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I'm new to gardening and a little confused. We have two humongous (close to 5' tall) tomatillo plants with loads of flowers, but no fruit yet, though I thought ~might~ be seeing some tiny fruit the last day or so. I understand that one needs at least two plants for pollination, but how does one know if the two plants are male and female? Couldn't you get a bunch of all male or all female plants?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 4:09PM
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This is my third year growing tomatillos and I always have trouble getting them to fruit -- and I always have 2 plants.

This year I have 2 plots, and I do have tomatillos at one garden plot, but lots of flowers and nada at the other.

It seems to be a common complaint.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 7:10PM
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tomatillos aren't dioecious, they're self-sterile. so the plants are not male or female, they all have 'perfect' flowers containing both male and female parts. they simply aren't good at pollinating themselves. that's why there's a chance that some single plants will still produce a little fruit.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 3:26PM
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For what it's worth, I have about 12 plants. All are huge with countless blossoms. It has been quite the bee party out there all summer. Yet, so very little fruit.

I too was wondering why so few of the blossoms become fruit. The plants are healthy and relatively pest free.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 6:24PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

As I read through the posts , it becomes obvious that you may have no fruit with ONE or more plants.

My Own Experiment:

I have grown a SINGLE tomatillo plant at times and have gotten fruits just to prove wrong the theory that you need more than one plant.
There is no male or female tomatillo plants. So say you have two of them and both produce fruits. So WHO is pollinating WHOM? It just does not make sense.

Lat year I had ONE plant and started producing lanterns late August by tens if not hundreds. But could not get bigger when the weather got cooler.
This year I am also growing just one plant again. So far ZERO lanterns. But I am waiting and I am sure it will fruit later , just like last year and twice before few years ago.

I suspect that tomatillo is day length sensitive Being the native of Mexico, they like short days, not 16 hours day that we have here. Some how, either the pollens or the ovules are not viable at certain weather condition. It has noting to do with the number of plants.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 10:51PM
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First year growing tomatillos--three plants--I've had lanterns for at least a couple of weeks. Central Wisconsin & unusually cool summer.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 11:08PM
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