[Market-farming] Tomatillos

eknutson eknutson at clubdepot.com
Thu Jul 1 13:51:11 EDT 2004

OK, I really don't want to be an instigator here, but I have to take exception to one comment and to pass along some information.

The information - If you search the internet (Google for tomatillo self-fertile) and you will find sites with varying information: they are, they are, they might be. Here's a couple of the sites and quotes from them that say they are *not* (which seems to be the majority opinion):


Vital note: Tomatillos are self-sterile, so always plant at least two! (So that's why the darn thing didn't fruit . . . .)


Tomatillo is not self-fertile you must have a minimum of 2 plants to get fruits.

>From personal experience, I tend to agree. And if we go with that school of thought, then we need a pollinator such as insects, or someone with a paintbrush if there are no pollinating insects present.

The comment I take exception to is:

>... but tomatoes inside must be shaken to distribute the pollen to the
>other plants.

Shaking a tomato plant does not necessarily distribute pollen to other plants, unless perhaps you have some below otheres. ;-) Tomatoes *ARE* self fertile. If they are indoors they need to be shaken for the following reasons:


Tomato blossom are self fertile, but have the pollen inside the anther, and the flower requires shaking to release the pollen through pores. This can be done by wind, by humans, or by a sonicating bee (one that vibrates its wing muscles while perched on the flower), such as a bumblebee. Sonicating bees are extremely efficient pollinators of tomatoes, and colonies of bumblebees are quickly replacing humans with vibrators as the primary pollinators for greenhouse tomatoes.


Cultivated tomatoes are self-fertile, and almost exclusively self-pollinating. Their unique flower and anther morphology makes tomato an essentially cleistogamous plant, in which self-pollination and fertilization occur within an unopened flower. A low crossing rate between tomato varieties was demonstrated and attributed to the limited availability of pollen and poor foraging activity of insect pollinators.

Betsy in Southern Idaho Zone 5

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "TxBeeFarmer" <TxBeeFarmer at HotPop.com>
Reply-To: Market Farming <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date:  Thu, 1 Jul 2004 07:51:27 -0500

>Maybe they're not getting pollinated.  Not sure if they're like tomatoes or
>not, but tomatoes inside must be shaken to distribute the pollen to the
>other plants.
>(West Texas) Mark
>----- Original Message -----
>This is my first year with tomatillos. I am growing Toma Verde. I potted a
>few of them up to 15 gal pots early on. They are huge and gorgeous and
>covered with flowers. Here is the question. The flowers are a beautiful
>yellow but seem to turn brown in the middle and then fall off. Is this
>normal for a tomatillo? They have been doing this for a week or so but I
>have seen no sign of fruit development yet. Any insight? The bulk of them
>are in the high tunnel and only now beginning to flower. Thanks!
>Shelly Elliott
>Idle Thyme Farm
>A place where time stands still, where back to nature is simply a way of

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