Possible incompatibility between different tomatillo cultivars

WonderWeaselJune 23, 2012


I've been looking all over the web and have been unable to find anything that addresses the issue I'm having with pollination of one of my tomatillo plants.

I currently have three plants (two Purple de Milpa plants and a Grande Rio Verde plant). All three plants are thriving and covered with flowers, but the purple tomatillos are the only ones setting fruit. The green tomatillo plant starts to form tiny husks with smaller-than-pea-sized fruit in them, but the fruit doesn't reach maturity. Is it possible these cultivars are not compatible? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

--Jordan (WonderWeasel)

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

The best source for tomatillo biology is Purdue, and below I've linked to a Google search.

I suggest that you read the several links to Purdue that are at the top of the Google search, rather than my picking out one for you. You'll see that they are from different years but I didn't take the time to read them all to see how much overlap there might be.

And I think you might well find an answer to your question, either positive or negative.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tomatillo Compatibilty

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 9:33PM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Well if you cant find anything ,probably means its a non issue

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 9:37PM
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Hi Jordan,
Tomatillos like tomatoes have perfect flowers meaning they have both male and female parts so no outside insect pollination is required. So you can grow only one plant and have lots of tomatillos.
If your one plant is setting fruit, but then dropping them, some sort of stress is happening to the plant like not enough water. If it is not setting fruit at all, that is usually caused by being too hot at the time of flowering. Or being you only have one plant, it is possible you have a bum plant. If you grow lots of a plant, you can often find one that under performs compared to the rest. So you could of gotten very unlucky and are growing an odd plant.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 10:33AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

green tomatillo plant starts to form tiny husks with smaller-than-pea-sized fruit in them, but the fruit doesn't reach maturity

Then I think you are far more likely to find the problem is one of the growing conditions provided or not. Are these plants in containers or not. More details on the specific growing conditions might provide a clue.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 12:00PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Remy, it's true that tomatilloes have pefect blossoms but in the links I gave you'll see that individual tomatillo blossoms are incompatible so they can not self pollenize and any other tomatillo can be the source of pollen and indeed in one of those Purdue links any other Physalis growing within so many meters, as given in the biology section of that main Purdue link, can also suffice.

So at least two plants are required and when someone says they have only one plant and get berries, for that's what they are, it means that there was another source nearby, as in another Physlis species.

There really is some great biology given in those Purdue links.

Carolyn, noting that Tuesday is the day I spoke to in another thread, I think here, and nothing in the mail to date.LOL

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 1:38PM
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There seems to be a lot of argument over whether you need two plants or not. I remember hearing that at one point, but in 'Seed to Seed' (second edition) by Suzanne Ashworth, they are listed as perfect and inbreeding. Having grown them a few times, and one time I could swear with only one plant (no one is anywhere near me growing them) and seeing the way they are absolutely over flowing in fruit, I believe they do not need another plant. I of course could always be wrong, lol. Ok, I looked into it more, and I've found a few sources saying sometimes self-incompatible. It is all quite odd, lol.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 7:00PM
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Thanks for all of the info, everybody! According to the Purdue articles, any cultivar should be fine for pollination. I'll just have to wait and see!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 5:05AM
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