Tomatillos, Husk Tomatoes
or Ground Cherries
• Legend and Lore • In the Garden



  • Native to North and South America
  • Zone – Annual (treat like tomatoes)
  • Full Sun
  • Size 3-6’ (1-2m)
  • Ripens late summer/early fall

Legend and Lore

The tomatillo is related to the tomato and has been cultivated by the Aztecs. The fruit dates back to 800 B.C. The word tomatillo means plump and round and was often interchanges with xitomalt another word which was used for tomato. Unlike its blushing cousin the tomatillo never gain popularity in Italy but has made progress in the Southern U.S. where it is a staple in Mexican Cuisine –tomate verde.

In the Garden

Prefers full sun, well drained soil, seeds can be started indoors in March and can be transplanted outdoors after the last spring frost.  Cheating can be done by planting a ripe tomatillo late fall and mounding it with mulch! Amend the soil with plenty of compost and space the plants at 3’ interval, add mulch. The tomatillos ripens within a papery husk that can be picked when it turns brown and the fruit within is still green. To harvest pull up the whole plant and pick off fruit as needed. The fruit will continue to ripen even after picked and turn yellow; it then can be stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

In the Kitchen