The celebrity tomato is an All American Selection (AAS) winner variety of the tomato plant. It has more disease resistance than just about any other cultivar and is considered the standard for hybrid tomatoes.
It’s highly adaptable and almost entirely maintenance-free. Qualities that enable it to thrive in a wide range of conditions and make it a favorite among tomato growers and first-time gardeners.
The cultivar was developed at Seminis Vegetable Seeds by Colen Wyatt. One of the most successful plant breeders of the 20th century.
Other than the celebrity tomato, he also developed the Husky Gold Tomato and Big Beef Tomato. Both of which went on to win AAS awards
Celebrity tomato plants grow in bushes between 3 to 4 feet tall. But they can reach up to 10 feet or higher depending on the soil depth and climate. They do best in USDA zones 3 through 9.
The plants bear clusters of medium-large tomatoes prized for their great flavor. They are a great all-round choice when making sandwiches and tomato-based sauces.
In this article, we shall take a look at celebrity tomatoes and everything you need to know to grow them at home.
|Fruit Size||7 to 10 ounces|
|Maturity Time||60 to 72 days|
|Plant Spacing||2 to 3 feet apart|
|Plant Size||3 to 4 feet tall|
|Plant Type||(Semi) Determinate|
|Disease Resistance||Fusarium Wilt, Verticillium Wilt, Tobacco Mosaic, Root Nematodes|
Are Celebrity Tomatoes Determinate or Indeterminate?
Authorities are mixed on whether this variety is determinate or indeterminate.
In most instances, you will find them labeled as determinate plants. But it also displays qualities associated with indeterminate varieties.
As a result, some resellers label the celebrity tomato as a semi-determinate variety. This signifies that the plant has both bush (determinate) and vine (indeterminate) features.
For example, the celebrity tomato plant will grow to a specific size, like a bush variety. But will continue to bear tomatoes until the first frost like a vine variety.
Additionally, like determinate varieties, celebrity tomatoes are also fast growers and early producers. They will reach maturity in about 72 days in the right growing conditions.
Growing Conditions for Celebrity Tomatoes
Fans of the celebrity tomato plant are amazed at how drought-resistant this strain is. And all with very few instances of cracks, thanks in part to the fruit having no shoulder.
However, for maximum yields, the plants will need ideal growing conditions. These are:
Soil: Celebrity tomatoes do well in nutrient-rich loosely packed soil. Cultivate your soil up to at least 8 inches deep for easy root spread.
Loamy soil with pH levels of 6.2 to 6.8 is ideal. If uncertain about the pH, you can conduct a soil test.
When planting outside, spread a 2 to 4-inch layer of mulch around the base of your crops. Mulch prevents pests and weeds and helps with moisture retention.
You should also mix in some fertilizer, organic matter or compost into the soil when blooms appear, and again at the start of fall.
Temperature: Tomatoes are highly susceptible to cold temperatures. Late spring frosts and early fall frosts might spell death for your plants. The risk is even higher if you live in an area with a short growing season.
If the temperature drops below 55℉, your tomatoes will stop producing. If it further drops to 32℉ or lower, then the plants might die altogether.
Cold temperatures can also lead to mushy, flavorless fruits. This is why you should not store tomatoes in the refrigerator.
When a frost is expected in your area, protect your tomato plants using cloches and row covers.
Water: Celebrity tomatoes need regular and consistent moisture, especially when fruiting. Do not let the soil dry out for too long. Inconsistent watering is one of the leading causes of blossom end rot in tomatoes.
You should also avoid overwatering, it can lead to root rot and eventually, death.
The best way to tell if your plants need watering is through checking the soil with your fingers. If the top 3 inches of soil feels dry, go ahead and water them.
Water your tomatoes early in the morning and below the foliage. This allows the water to soak into the soil and helps prevent diseases by not getting the leaves wet.
Fertilizer: Before planting celebrity tomato seeds in the garden, mix in some compost into your soil. Well-rotted compost helps aerate the soil and provides nutrients to your plants.
Additionally, you can mix in a balanced, slow-releasing fertilizer during planting. Celebrities are heavy feeders and will need plenty of nutrients for high yields.
However, be careful not to overdo it with the fertilizers. For example, high nitrogen fertilizers encourage foliage growth but inhibit fruit production.
Starting Celebrity Tomatoes From Seed
When starting from seeds, sow between 6 and 8 weeks before the last frost date. This gives you a jump start on the growing season once the threat of frost has passed.
For best results, start your seeds using a seed starting kit.
Sow the seeds ¼ inch deep in the starting mix and keep the mix moist, and at 75℉. The seedlings should germinate after 7 to 14 days.
After germination, provide your seedlings with plenty of light. Remember tomatoes need full sun to thrive.
Sunlight from a sunny window or artificial plant lights will do.
If you opt for artificial supplemental light, use fluorescent plant lights, and maintain the lights 3 to 4 inches above the seedlings for 16 hours daily.
Incandescent bulbs are unsuitable in this instance because they burn too hot.
Raise the lights as the plants grow, and ensure to turn them off for 8 hours every night. Plants need some time in the dark to grow.
After 3 to 4 weeks, feed the seedlings using a half-strength liquid fertilizer.
If you start your seedlings in small cells, you will need to move them into three or 4-inch pots. These will allow the seedlings room to develop their roots before transplanting to the garden.
You can move the seedlings into the pots when they have at least three pairs of leaves.
Hardening Celebrity Tomato Seedlings
Before transplanting your seedlings into the garden, you need to harden them off. This refers to the process of getting the seedlings accustomed to outdoor conditions. You can do this by moving the seedlings to a sheltered place outside for a week.
Ensure the spot you choose is shielded from strong winds and the sun at first. And if there is a risk of frost at night, you can bring the seedlings indoors overnight.
Hardening off helps develop robust plants by toughening the plants’ cell structures and reducing the chances of transplant shock or scalding.
Planting Celebrity Tomatoes in the Garden
Only transplant the seedlings into the garden when overnight temperatures consistently stay above 55℉.
Follow these simple steps when transplanting your seedlings into the garden:
- Turn the soil up to 8 inches deep and level with a rake to remove rocks and clumps of grass.
- Dig holes big enough to accommodate each plant and its root ball.
- Remove the seedlings from their pots and loosen the root balls with your hand.
- Plant them 24 to 36 inches apart per row, with the rows being 3 to 4 feet apart.
- Fill the holes and firm the soil around the base of the plants to create slight depressions.
- Water generously – until the water settles in the slight depressions. This settles the plant and helps get rid of air pockets for better root-to-soil contact.
Notes: To avoid any diseases, ensure you had not planted either of the following on the same spot in the previous year:
Bury the stems up to the first set of leaves for the best results. The deeper you bury your seedlings, the more roots will develop. This makes for sturdier, healthier plants.
You should also install your tomato plant supports before planting the seedlings. Tomato roots are delicate and might get damaged if you did this later.
Stakes – set them in the ground and plant the seedlings 6 inches from the stakes
Wire Tomato Cages – place a cage around a single plant and train the vines to grow within the cage. Pruning will not be necessary.
Growing Celebrity Tomatoes in Containers
These tomatoes are a good choice for a container garden. When growing potted celebrity tomatoes, choosing the right planter is critical. They can grow well in many types of containers, including ceramic, clay, wood, or plastic, as long as they have good drainage.
To grow tomatoes in containers:
- Fill a 5 – 10-gallon planter with potting soil, and leave a hole large enough for your roots.
- Place the tomato cage or stake around the edge of the planter. These will offer support as the plants grow.
- Remove the seedlings from its original container and shake off any excess soil. Take care not to damage the roots.
- Set the plant into the planter, and cover the roots with potting soil. Lightly compact the soil around the base of the plant
- Fertilize your tomatoes with a balanced slow-releasing fertilizer and water them immediately. Ensure the soil is thoroughly moist, but not soaking wet.
- Place the potted plants in an area where they will get full, direct sunlight.
- Water your potted tomatoes twice every week at soil level to avoid wetting the foliage. You may need to adjust this to suit your specific area. Remember potted plants gry out faster than those planted in the garden.
How to Care for Celebrity Tomatoes
Celebrities are almost entirely maintenance-free. But despite the little effort, they do need attention – as does any plant.
For instance, they require support to stay upright. You can use stakes, cages, or even open-sided A-frame trellises.
Additionally, here are the recommended practices to ensure a massive yield:
- Weed your crop regularly, especially during the growing season. Weeds compete with your crops for space, water, and nutrients. You can do this by cultivating often or mulching.
- Use mulch to help boot moisture retention and stop the growth of weeds. Tomato roots are very delicate and might suffer damage during cultivation. Mulch is a much better option to control weeds.
- Celebrity tomatoes need about 1 to 2 inches of rain per week in the growing season. You may use a rain gauge to determine whether you need to supplement the rainfall. In drier areas, you can use a drip irrigation system to water your crops at the soil
If you use overhead irrigation, water in the early morning to give the foliage time to dry off. This helps prevent the spread of diseases like verticillium wilt.
- If you opted for growing cages, then pruning won’t be necessary. But with stakes, you should allow only one or two main stems to grow and pinch out any other side shoots. Tie the sprouts to the stakes but don’t pull them tightly against the stakes.
Should I Prune Celebrity Tomatoes?
Trimming, pruning, and grooming are not strictly necessary with the celebrity tomato. Your support structures will determine whether to remove side shoots and suckers.
When using stakes, gardeners usually remove the side shoots. This results in an earlier harvest with larger tomatoes. But overall production tends to be lower.
When using cages, gardeners usually leave the tips on. But it is generally a good idea to pinch them off when they are between 6 – 8 inches long.
You may also want to remove the bottom 6 – 10 inches of growth from your tomatoes. This will improve air circulation and reduce the chances of early blight.
Do this when the plants are knee-high and in the morning when they have the highest amount of water.
Note: Remove suckers and bottom growth while they are still small. If you wait until they are too big, you risk stripping the outer tissue from the main stem. Open wounds on your vines can increase the likelihood of fungus and pest infections.
You should also remove any plants that look sick with distorted or mosaic patterns on the leaves. These may have Tobacco Mosaic Virus which can spread to the other plants.
When to Harvest Celebrity Tomatoes
After about 60 – 65 days, fruits will begin to appear on your celebrity tomato plants. By day 70 or so, they will be ripe and weigh in at about 8 ounces.
Pick them regularly as soon as they’re all red to avoid overloading your plants.
Also, the sooner you remove fruits from the vine, the faster your plants will begin producing new ones.
Harvest by breaking the stem at the joint or by cutting it with a sharp pair of shears or knife.
At the end of the season, just before the first fall frost, pick all the almost-ripe fruits and ripen them indoors. You can do this by placing them in brown bags or spreading them on newspapers at room temperature.
Store only sound tomatoes between 50 and 60℉ and avoid having the fruits touch each other. But Do NOT refrigerate the fruits
How to Prepare Celebrity Tomatoes
Celebrity tomatoes are sweet and succulent. They are an excellent table, salsa, salad, and stew tomato. You can also use them to make sauces and ketchup and will be a welcome addition to any curry, casserole, or chutney.
Celebrity Tomato Pests and Common Diseases
If rotated seasonally, celebrity tomato plants will remain pest and disease-free. Well, unless an underlying environmental problem like overwatering is the root cause.
The celebrity tomato variety was developed with disease resistance in mind. This is one of the reasons that makes it popular with most gardeners.
Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pests and diseases in your area. This way you can select the cultivar that’s best suited for your area.
Here are common disease resistance codes to look out for when selecting your seeds:
- A Alternaria
- EB Early Blight
- F Fusarium Wilt
- FF Fusarium Wilt, Race 1 and 2
- FFF Fusarium Wilt, Race 1, 2, and 3
- N Nematodes
- St Stemphylium (Gray Leaf Spot)
- T Tobacco Mosaic Virus
- TSWV Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
- V Verticillium Wilt
However, despite the disease resistance, insects can still wreak havoc on your crop. The most common pests that plague the celebrity tomato plant include:
Aphids: The two main species of aphids that attack tomato plants:
- The green peach aphid
- The potato aphid
A few aphids won’t cause significant damage to your plants. But when new leaves start to curl, and the bugs coat new shoots you should take action. You can control aphids by blasting them with a strong jet of water.
Cutworms: These are green or brown caterpillars. They eat young plants at the soil line, cutting them off entirely from the roots.
You can control cutworms by weeding your garden at least two weeks before planting. You can also use cardboard collars or toothpicks inserted parallel to the stem to protect the stems.
Hornworms: These are large green caterpillars with a prominent horn on the tail end.
They eat the leaves, stems, and fruits of young plants, stripping them entirely.
Control hornworms by manually picking the grubs as they crawl. You can also establish colonies of natural enemies that will feed on the hornworms. These include insects like lacewings, braconid wasps, and ladybugs.
Celebrity tomatoes are an excellent choice for all home gardeners. No matter the level of experience. They are easy to grow and even easier to maintain!
For more tips and advice on growing tomatoes or any garden crop for that matter, visit Gardening Channel.
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