Physalis ixocarpa
Common Name: tomatillo 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Solanaceae
Native Range: Southern United States, Mexico
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 2.50 to 3.50 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Fruit: Edible

Culture

This member of the Solanaceae family can generally be treated like its relative, the tomato. Sow seeds in peat pots 4 to 6 weeks before date of last frost or sow directly in ground after all danger of frost is past and night temperatures are 55 degrees F or above. Plants are quite robust, 3 or 4' across and almost as high, so allow plenty of room. Tomato cages can reduce the sprawl somewhat. Plant in fertile, well-drained soil, in full sun. Water regularly, fertilize, and keep well mulched for best results.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Physalis ixocarpa, commonly called tomatillos, are a necessary ingredient of most Mexican salsas. Fruits are borne inside a paper “husk” (the calyx) and are also known as husk tomatoes. When fully ripe, the yellow to purple sweet fruits will swell and split the husks. However, most culinary uses, such as Mexican salsa verde, call for harvesting when the fruit is still green and tart. Tomatillos are easy to grow and very productive. The fruits will keep through the winter if stored loose in a cool place.

Genus name comes from the Greek physa meaning a bladder for the inflated calyx.

Specific epithet means with sticky or glutinous fruit.

Problems

Subject to similar pests and diseases as other members of the Solanaceae family. Whenever possible, don’t plant a Solanaceae crop in the same garden spot where a Solanaceae crop was grown in the last three years.

Garden Uses

In salsas or as seasoning in other dishes.