Looking for something new and exciting to grow in the garden this season? Look no further than the tree tomato, also kown as tomarillos, and tomate de arbol, cyphomandra betacea. Learn how to grow tree tomatoes AKA tamarillos, with our easy to follow gardening guide and be the talk of the street – we guarantee most will not have even heard of these vegetables! But what are tree tomatoes exactly?
Native to South America, tamarillos are small growing shrubs or semi-woody trees that can reach heights of 10-18 feet. These trees bloom in early spring and produce pink, very fragrant flowers. Eventually, these blooms will give way to small, oval, fruit reminiscent of plum tomatoes. These fast growing fruits are fun to grow, and they'll give your garden something a little more exotic. The tamarillo fruit has a sweet and tangy taste, and is often compared to tomatoes, kiwi, guava, and passion fruit.
Unlike tomatoes though, tree tomatoes should only ever be eaten when fully ripe and are a little tougher and bitter tasting than regular tomatoes. If eaten unripe, these tomatoes can actually be toxic. To learn more about how to grow tree tomatoes, keep reading!
How to Grow Tree Tomatoes
- These tomatoes grow best in climates that stay above 50F (10C), but can also tolerate temperatures as low as 28F (-2C).
- Plant your tree tomato plant in well draining, compost-enriched soil and place in full sun.
- If you live in a tropical climate, keep your tree tomato plant in the shade for most of the day.
- If you live in a cooler climate, consider planting your tomato in a pot or container so that it can be brought inside if temperatures drop.
- Space each plant 6-10 feet apart and water well.
- Keep away from high winds.
Tree Tomato Care:
- Water regularly and mulch around the plant to help keep moisture in.
- Apply a balanced fertilizer quarterly.
- Keep an eye out for fruit flies and aphids.
- If you see either of the above, treat your plant with neem oil.
- Never allow the small tree to sit in standing water. They do not like overly wet soil, and even a few days of standing water could kill the tree.
Tree Tomato Harvest:
- The tomatoes are ready for harvest once they have fully matured (usually within 25 weeks), but newly planted trees may take up to 2 years to produce the fruit.
- As long as they are fully ripe, they can be eaten raw, made into salsas, jams, or jellies.