Tomatoes are grown by more people worldwide than any other vegetable. For forty years, Celebrity tomatoes were the standard that all other tomato varieties were measured against. While some recent hybrids have surpassed it, this is still a great tomato to grow. This guide will tell you everything you need to know to decide if the Celebrity tomato is right for you.
Quick Growing Guide for the Celebrity Tomato
|Plant Type:||Semi-Indeterminate or Determinate||Resistant to:||Verticillium Wilt, Fusarium Wilt Race 1, Fusarium Wilt Race 2, Root-Knot Nematodes, Alternaria Stem Canker, Tobacco Mosaic Virus|
|USDA Hardiness Zone:||3-9||Maintenance:||Moderate to High|
|Season:||Summer, early fall||Soil Type:||Fertile, well aerated|
|Exposure:||Full Sun||Soil pH:||6.2-6.8|
|Time to Maturity:||70 days||Soil Drainage:||Well-drained|
|Water Needs:||Moderate||Companion Plants:||Lettuce, basil, beets|
|Planting Depth:||¼ inch deep||Don’t Plant Near:||Potatoes, peppers, eggplants|
|Common Pests and Diseases:||aphids, cutworms, and tomato hornworms||Variety:||Celebrity|
What Is a Celebrity Tomato?
A Celebrity tomato is a large globe-shaped hybrid tomato that turns bright red when ripe.
Cultivation and History
Colen Wyatt developed the Celebrity tomato. It was released in 1983 by Petoseed Co., his employer. It is now distributed by Seminis Vegetable Seeds, who bought Petoseed Co. Celebrity tomatoes were named as an All-America Selections (AAS) in 1984 for their taste. In 2021, Celebrity tomatoes were named as a Texas Superstar after being tested for taste, reliability, and the ability to grow in a wide range of climates.
Characteristics of the Celebrity Tomato
The tomato does not have many seeds in it. Each fruit can weigh seven to ten ounces and reach four inches in diameter. The plants grow three to four feet long and are ready to harvest in 65 days from transplant. If growing from seed, add 25 days. Most people classify Celebrity tomatoes as determinate tomatoes, but some people classify them as semi-indeterminate tomatoes.
Fruit Size, Color, Texture, Taste
Celebrity tomatoes are a bright red color when ripe, have a firm, meaty texture, and have a globe shape. They are sweet and juicy.
Celebrity tomatoes are hybrids. Saved seeds will not breed true so new seeds must be bought each year.
Celebrity is resistant to cracks, spitting, Verticillium Wilt, Fusarium Wilt Race 1, Fusarium Wilt Race 2, Root-Knot Nematodes, Alternaria Stem Canker, and the Tobacco Mosaic Virus.
Caring for the Celebrity Tomato
Celebrity tomatoes are very easy to grow and are often recommended for first-time gardeners. Here is what they need to grow big and juicy.
Tomato plants require full sun. Plant them where they can get at least eight hours of sun a day. I live in a hot climate, so I plant them where they have afternoon shade to keep them producing longer.
Tomato plants require well-drained soil. They also like soil that is heavily amended with organic matter. I spread three inches of compost on the area I plan to grow tomatoes. I mix it in the top six inches of soil. Tomato plants need a pH of 6.2-6.8 to grow well. After I prepare my soil, I get a soil test. This test tells me the pH of my soil and what nutrients are present. The report will also list fertilizer recommendations to get my soil ready for my tomato plants. Your Extension agent can give you soil sample bags and instructions.
I start my tomato plants from seed four to seven weeks before planting them. If I just want a few tomatoes, I buy transplants. For complete instructions on starting seeds and planting transplants, see my article.
When to Plant Celebrity Tomatoes
Celebrity tomatoes are planted in late spring or early summer, whenever the air temperature gets above 70 degrees at night.
Tomatoes need a lot of water to fill up the juicy tomatoes. I give my tomato plants at least an inch a week. When it is hot, I water them twice a week and give them an inch of water each time. I use an inexpensive water meter to make sure the soil is evenly moist. In my experience, letting the soil dry out too much, then watering, leads to blossom end rot.
Celebrity tomatoes are a warm-season plant. Do not plant them until the air temperature is at least 70 degrees at night. In my experience, planting them too early means they will be stunted or even killed by the cold.
When the temperature gets to be over 90 degrees, the pollen in the tomato flowers ruins and the flowers can’t be pollinated. They drop without setting fruit. Shade cloth can help keep the tomato plant cooler in hot climates. Since it is over 90 degrees in my area in the summer, I remove the tomatoes when they stop bearing fruit and start fresh in the fall. In my experience, nursing the tomato plants through the hot summer so they can bear fruit again in the fall yields disappointing results. The plants never bear well again.
I consider Celebrity tomato plants to be heavy feeders. I use my soil test to fertilize the soil before I plant my tomatoes. Without a soil test, I would use 10-10-10 at a rate of a cup per ten feet of row if my soil was not high in phosphorus or potassium. If my soil had lots of phosphorus and potassium, I would put 46-0-0 at a rate of half a pound per ten feet of row. That is all the fertilizer I spread until the tomato plants set fruit.
When the fruit is about an inch in diameter, I would use a tomato fertilizer. I use the amount on the label. Every four weeks for granular fertilizer or every two weeks for liquid fertilizer, I put out more fertilizer. I always water after putting out a granular fertilizer. To protect the tomato plant from burning, I spread the fertilizer parallel to the tomato plants and about six inches away from them. Never get granular or liquid fertilizer directly on the plant. It will burn them.
Celebrity plants do not require pruning. Indeterminate plants need pruning, not semi-indeterminate or determinate plants.
Why Plant Celebrity Tomatoes?
Celebrity tomatoes are a good first tomato for new gardeners. They are resistant to most diseases that tomato plants get. The tomatoes are large and can be used for slicing, cooking, and canning.
Where to Buy Celebrity Tomatoes
Celebrity tomatoes are widely sold. You can get them at most nurseries, although they may sell out if you wait too late. Buying Celebrity tomato plants at big box stores is hit or miss. You can buy seeds online at Amazon, Burpee’s, Totally Tomatoes, and Tomato Grower’s Supply Company. Mail-order plants are harder to find. I located some at Bonnie Plants, but that is the only reputable dealer I found who had them.
Pest & Diseases
Celebrity tomato plants are resistant to the most common tomato diseases. You can find a complete list of known tomato diseases in my article.
Celebrity tomato plants are vulnerable to several pests. The most common ones are listed below.
Potato aphids (Macrosiphum euphorbiae)
These aphids are soft-bodied and pear-shaped. They may be pink, green, or pink and green. Nymphs look similar to adults. Potato aphids usually have live young, so there are no eggs to destroy. Aphids suck the sap out of the tomato leaves, stems, and blossoms, leaving scars behind. Blossoms may fall and yield is reduced. Leaves die from the top of the plant down in a bad infestation. In addition, potato aphids excrete a sticky, sweet substance called honeydew that coats the leaves. Sooty mold often grows on the honeydew and blocks photosynthesis.
Aphids can often be dislodged with a strong stream of water. If they are distorting leaves and blossoms with their feeding, insecticidal soap will kill them.
Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta) and Tomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata)
Hornworms are long, green caterpillars with diagonal white markings and a prominent horn on the back end. They feed on leaves and sometimes fruit. Hornworms will strip a tomato plant of its leaves, killing it.
The easiest way to eliminate hornworms is to pick them off by hand and drop them in a jar of soapy water. As an alternative, you can spray them with Bacillus thuringiensis. If you find a hornworm with white things sticking out of its body, do not pick it off the tomato. That hornworm hosts parasitic wasps, one of the natural enemies of hornworms. Leave it alone until the wasps emerge.
Celebrity tomatoes are best when harvested after the tomato is red but while it is still firm. I cut the tomato off of the plant as close to the tomato as I can get without injuring it. I place slightly green tomatoes on a counter in a warm room to ripen. Spread the tomatoes out so they do not touch anything. Ripe tomatoes can be stored in the refrigerator, but I find they become mealy and mushy. I prefer to leave them on the counter for a few days. Once the tomato is cut, it should be refrigerated. Toss any tomato that has a sour smell or oozes fluid. Eating that one can make you sick.
Common Uses of Celebrity Tomato
In addition to eating Celebrity tomatoes fresh, you can cook, freeze, and can them. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A and C and are low in salt.
The skin of the Celebrity is frequently removed before use in cooking and canning. To remove it easily, drop the tomatoes in boiling water until the skin splits, then dip them in cold water. The skin will slip off easily.
You can stuff the tomatoes with tuna, cottage cheese, or other items by scoping out the seeds and flesh. Sprinkle paprika on top for a festive look. Top with cheese and broil until the cheese is melted for an extra burst of flavor.
You can dry tomatoes in a dehydrator or on the counter by cutting them in half and placing them cut side up on the dehydrator tray or a baking sheet. If you are using the counter, place cheesecloth over the tomatoes to protect them from bugs. Rotate the tray every day so the tomatoes dry evenly. When the tomatoes are dry, place them in a glass jar or plastic bag and store them somewhere cool and dry.
Tomatoes can also be canned or cooked into sauce. When canning tomatoes, add two tablespoons of lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of citric acid per quart or one tablespoon of lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid per pint before canning. You don’t want nasty bugs to grow in your canned tomatoes!
Tomatoes can be frozen either with the peel or without it. Place the tomatoes on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Let them freeze completely, then place in plastic bags and put them back in the freezer. Do not try to use these tomatoes as fresh tomatoes as they will be mushy. They work great for cooking, however.
In conclusion, Celebrity tomatoes were the standard for forty years. Even though some newer hybrids have surpassed them, Celebrity tomatoes still grow well and taste great. They are often suggested as the tomato that new gardeners should grow first. Celebrity tomatoes are resistant to most of the common tomato diseases and to cracking and splitting. Healthy and nutritious, Celebrity tomatoes can be used fresh, frozen, and canned for later use.