The Celebrity tomato is a hybrid cultivar prized for its strong plants, disease and pest resistance, and robust production of fruit. If you've ever struggled growing garden or patio tomatoes that become vulnerable to pests or just don't produce very many tomatoes, the Celebrity may be a game changer for you. These tomatoes usually weigh in at half a pound each or more, and measure four inches across: the perfect size for a slicer! Its meaty texture and smooth globe shape make it a perfect sandwich tomato, but it can also be used in salads or in sauces, or chopped and simmered with fresh herbs to serve over pasta.
Among tomato-growing aficionados, this variety is known as a "semi determinate" plant, because after reaching its full height of 3-4 feet, it continues to produce fruit until frost (unlike determinate tomatoes that have a "bush" habit and finite fruiting period/single crop, or indeterminate tomato plants that continue to sprawl and produce fruit throughout their growth season (like cherry tomatoes)
Because they produce such an abundance of large fruits, these plants definitely need cages or stakes to keep them upright. Even with cages, you may find you want to use some plant ties for extra support, especially as fruits grow larger. If the vines seem too heavy with fruit you can always pluck some tomatoes just before they fully ripen, and finish ripening them in a sunny windowsill (indoors, or squirrels might start snacking on them).
|Scientific Name||Solanum lycopersicum, cultivar 'Celebrity'|
|Common Name||Celebrity tomato|
|Mature Size||3 to 4 ft. tall|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Fertile, well-drained|
|Soil pH||6.2 to 6.8|
|Bloom Time||Early summer, fruits appear through fall|
|Hardiness Zones||5 to 8 (USDA)|
|Native Areas||Native to Central and South America|
|Toxicity||Green parts of plant may be toxic to dogs or cats|
Growing Celebrity Tomatoes
Even inexperienced tomato growers may find this variety to be relatively trouble free. It's resistant to many pests and diseases, and has a robust growth habit. It also can be grown easily in containers, Use a large container that's at least five gallons, to give your plants plenty of root space, and make sure the container has good drainage.
Tomatoes like a rich, well-drained soil. It's important to add new soil and amendments to the garden area where tomatoes are grown each season, and to rotate nightshade crops, to benefit from optimal soil nutrition. The Celebrity tomato does best in a slightly acidic soil. You may also want to consider companion plantings best for tomatoes.
Two words: full sun. Celebrity tomatoes should be grown in full sun.
Watering at the base of the plant with a watering can or drip hose, instead of using a sprinkler or hose from above, is recommended to help prevent spread of blight or disease. (Rain is good too!) Water in the morning or evening on dry days, and avoid watering during the hottest part of the day in summer. Tomatoes like plenty of water, but they do not like wet feet. If your tomato plants are pot grown they will need to be watered more often. Good drainage is essential to prevent root rot and overwatering may cause leaves to turn yellow.
Temperature and Humidity
The ideal temperature for tomato plants to blossom, fruit and ripen falls in the 70 to 85 degree F. range. Being such a hardy plant, variations in temperature probably won't do too much damage to Celebrity tomato plants, but if a heat wave crops up, be sure to water with cool water in the morning and again in the evening so the foliage doesn't dry out. Too much humidity may increase susceptibility to mold or mildew, but the Celebrity has been bred to resist such problems. Even though Celebrity is more a bush type of plant, it is important to leave plenty of space between tomatoes planted in a row in the garden. Good air circulation will help prevent many of the disease problems that plague your plants.
Common Pests and Diseases
This hardy hybrid plant is resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and tobacco mosaic virus, as well as nematodes. Tomato fruits are tempting to birds and small wildlife, so you may need to protect them with netting if this is a problem in your garden.
Growing Celebrity Tomatoes from Seed
With the right set up, growing tomatoes from seed is fairly straightforward. Germination will be dependent on light, heat and moisture but most tomato seeds have a good germination rate. Use a seed starting mix and follow the instructions on the seed packet. A greenhouse is ideal for starting seeds for the vegetable and flower gardens but you can grow tomatoes from seed in a sunny windowsill. Once the seedlings emerge, they will begin to reach for the sun, so remember to turn the pots regularly to keep the plants from becoming leggy.
You will need to harden off your tomato seedlings before planting them in the garden. You can accomplish this by exposing them to outdoor temperatures for increasingly longer periods of time over a week or several days. Choose good-sized containers for transplanting your seedlings, or plant in your garden once the seedlings are at least six inches tall, and all danger of frost has passed.
Potting and Repotting
Most tomatoes grow easily in containers, with a few simple guidelines to follow, and Celebrity tomatoes are no exception. The most important tip for growing tomatoes in pots is to make sure the pots are big enough! Tomato root systems require a good amount of space and good drainage. Once transplanted a light watering will help avoid transplant shock. When you are ready to plant out in the garden, dig a deep hole and remove the seed leaves and up to several sets of lower leaves depending on the size of your seedlings. You can bury up to a third of the plant in the soil which encourages a strong root system and helps the roots take up available water.
The story would not be complete without talking about taste and most of us who grow tomatoes in the home garden want a tomato with flavor. Most hybrids, including Celebrity will not stand up to heirloom varieties in this regard, but Celebrity is considered to have robust flavor with a nice balance between sweetness and acidity. The versatility of this hybrid, which can be utilized for canning, fresh eating, and sauces, along with its excellent disease resistance make it a variety worth the space in your vegetable garden.