The tree tomato, also known as the tamarillo, belongs to the nightshade family like conventional tomato varieties. Otherwise there is no botanical relationship between them. The exotic tree fruit has its origin in the Andes regions of Central and South America. Today it is mainly grown in South America, Africa, New Zealand, India, Australia and some parts of Europe. In this country, the tree tomato can be cultivated as a container or houseplant. Especially in the winter garden, the plant quickly serves as a source of shade thanks to its large leaves. Tamarillos present themselves with fragrant white to pink flowers that resemble a star due to their shape.

growth and properties

The evergreen, tree-like shrub can grow up to seven meters high in its homeland. In the bucket, however, it reaches an impressive height of up to three meters. As a shallow root, the tamarillo has an umbrella-shaped, rounded crown. The flowers are in smaller groups and are up to 15 centimeters long. If the plant grows too fast, flowering may sometimes fail. The fruits are ovate and tapering. The color spectrum ranges from yellow to blood red. Sometimes they are also cross-striped. The shiny skin of the exotic fruit is slightly leathery, has an unpleasant taste and is therefore not suitable for consumption. The pulp, on the other hand, is yellowish to reddish, tastes sweet to tart and has the consistency of jelly. Upscale gastronomy is no longer imaginable without the small foreign fruits.


Tree tomatoes contain countless minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and calcium. In addition, the pulp with vitamins A, B, C and E is very rich in vitamins. However, one should keep in mind that the pulp does not keep very long and should be consumed immediately after harvesting or purchase.

The care of the tree tomato

As an exotic tree tomato is not very demanding. Due to its rapid growth and due to its stability, the Tamarillo should be tied up in the first few years. It needs a bright location and plenty of water in the summer months.


Tree tomatoes can stay in the conservatory or greenhouse all year round. In summer, the tree tomato prefers a sunny to semi-shady location with temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius. Even direct sunlight does not harm it after a period of getting used to it. It also leaves a lasting impression on the terrace. Due to the large, soft leaves, however, high evaporation rates must be expected, which may not always be possible. In this case, the exotic also feels at home in a cooler, shady and wind-protected place. As a rule, the tamarillo has to be repotted into a much larger container every year.

In summer, many a tree tomato adorns the balcony or terrace. However, it can also be repotted outdoors during the summer months. However, you should find a spot that is sunny and protected from the wind at the same time.

demands on the soil

The Tamarillo does not make particularly high demands on the soil. Nevertheless, if possible, you should choose a clay soil that contains a balanced proportion of humus. As a result, water and nutrients are optimally stored in large quantities. Alternatively, potting soil with coarse-grained portions of gravel or expanded clay can be used.

watering and fertilizing

The tree tomato has a very high water requirement due to the large evaporation surfaces of the leaves. It can happen that the leaves hang limp, especially in the midday sun. This is a first sign of water shortage. Even if the plant needs a lot of water in summer, it is very sensitive to waterlogging. Therefore, a cachepot should be avoided. Likewise, the tree tomato does not like prolonged drought. Then the exotic tree rules with the absence of blossoms and fruits.

The fast-growing plant needs fertilizer at regular intervals. For this plant, regularly means at least every other week. In order to supply them optimally with nutrients, the fertilizer should also be nitrogen-reduced. If the supply of nitrogen is too high, the plant reacts by growing too vigorously and becoming “lazy”. Cactus fertilizer is best for fertilizing.


Tree tomatoes are not hardy. Like many other plants, they take a break from growing during the winter months. Nevertheless, the exotics should spend the cold season in a bright location. Temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius are ideal for getting the plant through the winter. Larger and older plants usually survive lower temperatures without any problems. Here the water supply should be reduced accordingly. Depending on the ambient temperature, it can happen that the leaves partially or completely fall off. From April, the tree tomato will sprout again. Before the exotic tree moves into its winter quarters, it is worth defoliating it. On the one hand, the plant cannot be attacked by aphids and, on the other hand, the evaporation surface is reduced.

To cut

The evergreen plant is known to reach a considerable height and can be cut back at any time without any problems. The size can be influenced by breaking out the side shoots. The tree tomato should not be exhausted, as it forms the fruit buds in the leaf axils.


The tree tomato is easy to propagate from seeds. These are commercially available. If you already own a tamarillo, you can remove the dark seeds from the fruit, separate them from the pulp and grow your own plants from the seeds.

To sow new seedlings, the following steps are necessary:

  • Wash the seeds carefully with lukewarm water and dry well
  • Let dry on a kitchen towel for at least a day
  • Use planting trays or planting pots
  • use special planting soil such as coconut substrate
  • Fill the planter with humus-rich substrate
  • Put seeds in – recommended planting distance: two centimetres
  • fill another layer of substrate (one centimeter) on top and press lightly
  • Water thoroughly with a sprayer, taking care not to wash away the seeds
  • Depending on the soil temperature, the germination time is one to two weeks
  • with translucent film, germination occurs faster
  • Prick out plants after germination

The planter is placed in a warm place at room temperature. Ensure sufficient brightness. Once the cotyledons have unfolded, the foil can be removed again.

The plant substrate must be kept moist and not soaked. Seedlings are generally not fertilized as they are self-sufficient. Liquid fertilizer is only used after about two months. Start with about a quarter of the recommended amount of fertilizer once a week. The amount of fertilizer increases with growth. If the plant is in its second year, fertilize as recommended. In the winter months, only fertilize during the growth phase if the plant is in a bright and warm place.

If you can easily grab the seedlings by hand, they must be separated. If you wait too long, you run the risk that the seedlings can no longer be separated due to the strong growth. If you want to cultivate several plants in one container, the distance between the plants must be at least ten centimetres. In order for the shoot to branch out, it makes sense to clip off the shoot tip at the desired height.

If the soil is pushed up or the root ball is completely penetrated, the plant must be repotted. Always use the next larger pot. If you use a much larger pot when repotting, you will only stimulate the growth of the roots even more. The first flowers form after just two years.

Tip: To support and support the young plant as it grows, it helps to tie it to sticks. Once the plants have reached a certain height, it is worth cutting the trunk. This is how the tree tomato branches out more.


After cultivation, the tree-like plant forms the first fruits. These grow all year round and can therefore be harvested all year round. Tamarillos are ripe when they are bright in color. Depending on the species, the color varies between yellow, orange, red and violet. They should also give a little if you press the fruit lightly with your fingers. Fruits harvested too early will continue to ripen in a bowl without hesitation.

diseases and pests

The tree tomato is often attacked by aphids. These can be easily combated with common means. The plant can also be affected by the following pests:

  • leaf bugs
  • vine weevil
  • spider mites

These should be combated at an early stage with commercially available means. The aforementioned pests are occasionally joined by red spiders and whiteflies. If the plant is visited by red spiders, the leaves are spun. There are small light spots on the leaves. If the infestation is severe, the color of the leaves will change. To combat the infested plants, take a lukewarm shower and treat them with a plant protection spray.

If the plant is infested with white flies, the underside of the leaf will turn yellowish. In the advanced stage, the leaves eventually fall off. Whiteflies can be specifically combated with yellow stickers or yellow boards. The flying insects stick to these glue-coated plastic parts and are therefore unable to reproduce. Alternatively, you can use insect sticks.

The intensely sweet and sour tasting tree tomato is still relatively unknown in this country. The tree-like shrub, which can grow up to three meters high in the greenhouse or conservatory, pleases the eye of the beholder with its large, heart-shaped leaves, the elongated, pointed fruits and the light fragrance. The tasty fruits hang like a grape on long stalks and are a healthy food supplement. They are rich in vitamins and can be eaten straight away without the skin. If cut back often, the exotic tree will bear more fruit and remain a shrub. So it can be pulled in all directions.

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