The Celebrity Tomato: A Texas Superstar in the Garden

The Celebrity tomato has long been revered as the benchmark for new tomato varieties. Now, it has been officially recognized as the latest Texas Superstar plant. Larry Stein, a horticulturist from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, describes the Celebrity tomato as a longstanding favorite that has excelled for over four decades. To be designated as a Texas Superstar, a plant must not only perform well throughout the state but also be easy to propagate and reasonably priced.

A Tomato Like No Other

The story of the Celebrity tomato begins with its originator, Colen Wyatt, a skilled tomato hybridizer from the United States. In the late 1980s, the seeds were distributed commercially by Petoseed Co. and later by Seminis Vegetable Seeds. The plant gained recognition in 1984 when it received an All-America Selections award, impressing horticulture experts with its exceptional characteristics compared to other tomato cultivars.

What sets the Celebrity tomato apart from most varieties is its resistance to root-knot nematodes. This makes it an essential choice for gardeners who prefer planting tomatoes in the same spot year after year. Moreover, the Celebrity tomato boasts impressive yields, sizable and high-quality fruit, and excellent taste, making it a must-have for all gardeners.

Caring for Your Celebrity Tomatoes

To ensure the best production, Celebrity tomatoes require full exposure to sunlight. They are adaptable to various soil types, as long as the area has good drainage. Although Celebrity tomato plants can grow as perennials, they behave as annuals in Texas due to the cold climate. These determinant plants usually reach a height of 4-6 feet and may require staking or caging for proper support and fruit production.

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For optimal results, it is recommended to transplant Celebrity tomato plants in early spring or mid-summer for a fall harvest. However, it is important to be aware of potential hindrances such as whiteflies and viruses during mid-summer planting. Additionally, home gardeners are advised to refrain from pruning the plants and to cage them instead. To establish a strong root system, it is best to replant starter plants in larger pots before transplanting them to the garden.

Provide small doses of water-soluble fertilizer to repotted starter plants with each watering until they are established. Once they are growing in the garden, switch to full doses of fertilizer every two weeks. As the first fruit sets, continue fertilizing to support the plant’s growth and fruit production.

Protecting Your Celebrity Tomatoes

When the fruit reaches the size of a golf ball, it is recommended to apply fungicide and insecticide to safeguard against potential threats such as stinkbugs and pinworms. However, it is worth noting that tomatoes are often harvested before such protective measures are required. Celebrity tomatoes also exhibit resistance to several diseases that commonly affect tomatoes, including fusarium wilt types 1 and 2, verticillium wilt, and tobacco mosaic virus. Furthermore, their resistance to cracking and splitting makes them resilient in the face of excess water and sugar movement during fruit development.

Yield and Quality

Ripe Celebrity tomatoes are round and vibrant red, showcasing their visual appeal. Vigorous Celebrity plants typically produce 20 or more plump, robust fruit. Each fruit weighs approximately 8 ounces and measures 4 inches in diameter. Even after being picked, Celebrity tomatoes continue to ripen, and they are typically harvested as soon as they start changing color.

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Aside from their delightful taste, Celebrity tomatoes are highly regarded for their nutritional benefits. As a superfood, they are packed with antioxidant vitamins A and C, potassium, B vitamins that promote heart health, and a carotenoid called lycopene.

A Superstar for Every Garden

Larry Stein emphasizes that Celebrity tomatoes should find a place in every garden. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, the Celebrity tomato is a reliable and universally available variety throughout Texas.

For more information on gardening and Texas Superstar plants, visit Ames Farm Center.

Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by Texas A&M AgriLife Research, a state agency within the Texas A&M University System. The Texas Superstar executive board, which includes horticulturalists from AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension, and Texas Tech University, designates plants as Texas Superstars.

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