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What Is A Tomatillo Flower?

Tomatillo Flower

A tomatillo flower is a small, white, bell-shaped flower that is found on a tomatillo plant.  Obviously right?  But if you are thinking of growing tomatillos then it’s important you know a little about the tomatillo flower.

So, what does a tomatillo flower look like? Surprisingly, they can be quite pretty! For the most part, a tomatillo flower is just a yellow papery structure with a few yellowish petals.

Inside the petal, is a “purplish” star around the middle stem of the flower. Some people find them appealing because of their simple design. That’s no surprise to me and during the season, I’ll often sacrifice a few flowers for a little color in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, tomatillos are a type of small, green, citrus-looking fruit that are popular in Mexican cuisine.

They are used in salsas and other dishes. Tomatillos have a hard outer shell that must be removed before the fruit can be eaten.

Once the hard shell is removed, the tomatillo exposes a bright “white-ish” center. However, this will be determined at the level of ripeness of the fruit and may vary at different stages of it’s evolution.

How Long Before A Tomatillo Flower Fruits?

growing tomatillos in a gardenTomatillos can be harvested at any stage of ripeness, but the flavor improves as they mature. The plant will keep producing fruit until frost kills it off.

How long before a tomatillo flower fruits? Tomatillos take about 60 days from flowering to fruiting when they are transplanted.

As far as fruiting from the time you seed them, it may take up to ninety days or more.

Granted, that seems like a long time to wait before you can commence enjoying it’s fruit but it is certainly worth the wait.

The tomatillo plant is a prolific grower, and can quickly cover an entire garden bed.

Tomatillos are ready to harvest when they are firm and bright green. The fruit will turn yellow as it ripens, but it is still edible at this point.

The good news is that a tomatillo like a tomato, will continue to ripen once it’s picked. Again, this is similar to a tomato.

Many people wonder about the seeds. Truth is, you don’t need to take the seeds out much like the tomato.

Eaten raw, a tomatillo can provide a little bite to it’s taste. I like them cooked because they produce that sweet taste which most people are after.

Should You Remove The Tomatillo Flower To Reduce Dense Growth?

health benefits tomatillo plantAt first glance, the notion of pinching off tomatillo flowers may sound a little counter-productive.

But like many vegetables and fruits during the growth phase, a little housekeeping can do wonders for the overall resultant harvest.

Why would you want to pinch off any flowers?

Like a tomato plant, the task of removing some flowers is done out of necessity. The last thing you want to do is laden a plant with a lot of fruit and then have it collapse from the weight of its own produce.

Removing some flowers will help alleviate this.

Allowing more sunshine to get to the areas of the plant that doesn’t usually receive it is another reason to pinch off a few flowers.

Sunlight is key to promoting good circulation of air through the plant.

Another reason to remove some of the flowers is to reduce dense growth. If you allow  the plant to remain dense and thick the growth process is slowed down.

This is not conducive to promoting a healthy plant. Cutting down some of this density through pinching off some of the flowers is going to alleviate this issue.

Tomatillos vs Tomatoes

how to grow tomatillosAre tomatillos tomatoes? What’s the difference between tomatillos and tomatoes?

Tomatillos ( Physalis philadelphica) and tomatoes ( Solanum lycopersicum) are both members of the nightshade family, but they are two different plants.

Tomatillos are smaller than tomatoes, and their husks are green. The fruit inside the husk is also green.

Tomatoes have a red husk and the fruit inside is red or orange.

The biggest difference between tomatillos and tomatoes is taste. Tomatillos have a tart, citrusy flavor, while tomatoes are sweet and fruity.

Tomatillo plants also grow more like bushes, while tomato plants grow more like vines.

Another question we receive is whether you can replace or even substitute tomatillos for tomatoes.

On face value value the answer is not really but you can get a little creative and people won’t really know the difference.

For instance, if you are lacking in tomatillos and want to add some to a salsa or salad, using a premature tomato can work effectively without raising anyone’s “tomatillo spider senses”.

Do Tomatillos Last More Than One Harvest?

what can you do with a tomatillo flowerThe tomatillo is regarded as an annual plant in some areas of the United States and as a perennial in other areas.

Here’s the deal…a tomatillo plant doesn’t really like cold weather so in areas where the climate is cool to cold, then tomatillos are good for one season.

But in warmer climates where frost isn’t an issue, tomatillo plants can continue to thrive especially when pollination remains viable.

Fruit that’s left to rot on the plant can be the catalyst for more tomatillo plants the next year.

The seeds within the fruit will sprout and are known as volunteers. In my case, I like to be a little more organized and will prevent this from happening, preferring instead to go through the structured process of planting where I want them to grow.

I like to consider the tomatillo as an annual for this reason.

Are Tomatillos Easy To Grow?

what is tomatillo flowerIn conclusion, tomatillos are easy to grow and can be a fun addition to any garden.

They are a great choice for beginning gardeners because they are relatively low maintenance and easy to care for.

My tip is to grow them from seeds in pots or containers initially and then replanting the seedlings in your garden.

Tomatillos don’t like cold weather which is usually the reason they wither and die. Frost can be brutal on the tomatillo plant.

Tomatillos can be used in a variety of dishes, making them a versatile fruit. 

Finally, the chances you are going to get more tomatillo fruit at one time than you can handle is strong.

If this occurs, they can be frozen for up to a year in freezer bags. I like to use them within six months of freezing though.

Tomatillos can last on the counter for five to seven days and can be refrigerated for up to fourteen days.

Tomatillo Flowers
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JD Dean

Growing up on a farm gave me and my family some huge advantages. One of them was learning to grow our own food. Apart from acres and acres of crops, we had a magnificent fruit and vegetable garden plus, we canned our own food. I’m hoping to pass on some of this expertise and experience to you.

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