Multiple Tomatillo Issues - Leaves, Beetles, and Pollination

Asked September 8, 2020, 10:51 AM EDT

Hello, I tried tomatillos for the first time this year, with no success. I have questions about 3 main issues: curled dark leaves, beetles, and pollination. The seeds I started in my basement yielded 2 healthy starts, but when transplanted, only one survived. I bought 2 more starts at a local greenhouse, which are the healthy ones in the first picture. The 3rd one with curled, dark leaves was the one I started (shown in 2nd picture), and ended up pulling the plant when I saw it wasn't producing new growth and would not recover. What caused the leaf issues? Why did it only affect the one I started, and not the others from the greenhouse? The beetle in the 3rd picture was all over the tomatillos at almost all times. They started as slimy, yellow/brown larvae, then grew into beetles with 3 stripes. I identified them from a website as 3-lined potato beetles, which were deemed harmless, other than eating a small amount foliage. Another website mentioned them as Colorado Potato Beetles, which would cause harm. Late in the season, I started to remove the larvae on the leaves to prevent leaf damage, which successfully reduced the adult beetle population. Which beetle is it? Are they harmless, and if not, how can I treat them? Lastly, even with the two plants remaining (I know tomatillos need at least 2 separate plants to pollinate), no flowers were pollinated and no fruit was produced. The plants were adjacent to each other, healthy, produced many yellow flowers, and grew to at least 5ft tall. Two propagations from the plants are currently growing and have also not produced any fruit. Hand pollination produced no fruit either. Thoughts on why no fruit was produced? Tips on getting better pollination? Thank you very much for your help! Matt

Wayne County Michigan

1 Response

Matt, thanks for the questions. The picture of the plant with the curled leaves there appears to be aphids around one flower bud (about 2/3 down at center). This is consistent with the distorted leaves. The leaf darkness could be a nutrient difference from that of the greenhouse plants or just a varietal difference. Aphids could be more attracted to certain varieties or stressed plants. The beetle is indeed the three lined potato beetle. The Colorado potato beetle is more "humped" and has more lines and can be very destructive. Either pest should be controlled by removing eggs and larvae. The pollination issue can either be a lack of pollinators (bees) or temperature. Both high and low temperature can inhibit pollination. Manual pollination, or creating a bee friendly environment can help. Check out the following links:

I hope this is helpfu,