How to Plant, Grow, and Care for ‘Celebrity’ Tomatoes

A true award-winning celebrity in the vegetable world, this beginner-friendly classic red tomato variety is amazingly flavorful and high-yielding. Learn to grow ‘Celebrity’ tomatoes from garden expert and former organic farmer Logan Hailey.

The Celebrity Tomatos showcase sturdy, green stems with medium-green, serrated leaves and round, vibrant red fruits.

Contents

A winner of the All-America Selections award, ‘Celebrity’ tomatoes are paparazzi worthy. These classic, high-yielding red slicers are perfect for first-time gardeners. The plants are vigorous and reliable, producing fruits throughout summer and fall. The bushy growth is manageable and requires less pruning than many heirlooms. 

Better yet, ‘Celebrity’ hybrids are incredibly pest-and-disease-resistant. The strong plants are sure to yield with minimal effort. Let’s dig into everything you need to know about growing this classic slicer.

Overview

Close-up of ripe Celebrity tomatoes, plump and rounded with thin, shiny bright red skin.
Plant Type Annual determinate tomato
Plant Family Solanaceae
Plant Genus Solanum
Plant Species lycospericum
Hardiness Zone 9-10
Planting Season Late spring
Plant Maintenance Moderate
Plant Height 3-6 feet
Fertility Needs Medium to high
Temperature 55-85°F or 13-29°C
Companion Plants Marigold, white alyssum, basil
Soil Type Loamy, well-drained
Plant Spacing 24-36”
Watering Needs High
Sun Exposure Full sun
Days to Maturity 70 
Pests Aphids, tomato hornworms, flea beetles, fruit worms
Diseases Verticillium wilt, nematodes, Tobacco mosaic virus

History and Cultivation

With robust green stems and dark green, glossy leaves with slightly serrated edges, the 'Celebrity' Tomato plant yields round, deep red to orange fruits.
An early-yielding hybrid, renowned for disease resistance and exceptional flavor.

‘Celebrity’ tomatoes were first released in the late 1980s. Bred by Colen Wyatt, this iconic hybrid was a game changer for gardeners and farmers alike. An early-yielding determinate variety with incredible disease resistance, ‘Celebrity’ brought deep red, firm fruits to growers in need of more dependable tomatoes. 

Still, the extreme durability and vigor of the plant did not compromise its flavor. The delicious tasting hybrid became so popular that it was judged by horticultural experts in 1984 and selected for the All-America Selections (AAS) award for extraordinary flavor and performance.

What is It?

'Celebrity' Tomato plant features strong, upright stems and lush, dark green leaves producing medium-sized, uniformly red fruits.
A prized bush tomato loved for flavor, resilience, and ease.

‘Celebrity’ is a determinate (bush) hybrid variety of tomato known for its plump flavorful tomatoes, disease-resistance, crack-resistance, and superior garden performance. This award-winning tomato is revered by gardeners, farmers, and chefs alike.

After transplanting, it takes about 70 days to start producing firm, delicious fruits. The variety is adaptable to most growing zones and compact enough to grow in a container with a tomato cage.

Where Do ‘Celebrity’ Tomatoes Originate? 

Characterized by its thick, green stems and medium-green, slightly lobed leaves with serrated edges, the 'Celebrity' Tomato plant bears uniform, round, red fruits.
The origins of modern cultivated tomatoes trace back to South America.

Evidence shows that domesticated tomatoes originate from the same ancestor, Solanum pimpinellifolium. This red-fruited wild nightshade originated in South America and was fully domesticated into a large-fruited garden tomato about 7,000 years ago. All modern cultivated tomatoes fall under the Solanum lycospericum, including ‘Celebrity’ hybrid tomatoes

Rest assured that no genetic modification was necessary to develop this plant. Instead, the gradual process of cultivation and variety selection occurred through plant breeding. Just as breeders developed Thoroughbred horses for racing or Clydesdale horses for hauling, plant breeders crossed many varieties together to develop ‘Celebrity’ specifically for quality fruits and disease-resistant plants.

What do ‘Celebrity’ Tomatoes Taste Like?

The sliced tomato displays juicy, vibrant red flesh with small, edible seeds and a smooth, slightly watery texture.
These plump, sweet fruits elevate any dish with their versatility.

These globe-shaped, eight-ounce, four-inch plump fruits are worthy of celebrity treatment in the kitchen. The low-acid flavor is very sweet, with a classic tomatoey taste and dense, meaty texture perfect for sandwiches, burgers, and salads. At peak red ripeness, the tomatoes sweeten to a complex, decadent flavor that is also suitable for salsas, pasta sauce, and tomato soup.

Propagation

Tomatoes are almost always propagated by seed, though you can also source this popular cultivar from local nurseries. The seeds of ‘Celebrity’ must be purchased from a reputable seed catalog. 

Because this is a hybrid, saving seeds from year to year will not yield the same plants. Hybridization involves a special cross-pollination between two parental lines. If you replant the seeds from your hybrid tomatoes, they may have funky fruits that do not match the original plants.

Indoor Seed Starting

Close-up of tomato seedlings in black plastic pots on a wooden table.
To ensure robust growth, start seeds indoors with warmth and care.

Tomatoes are frost-sensitive plants grown as annuals in zones 3 through 10. Young seedlings should never be exposed to temperatures below 45°F (7°C). Ideally, the plants can grow in a cozy 60-80°F (16-27°C) range

In colder zones, it is highly recommended to start seeds indoors several weeks before your last frost. The best time to transplant is one to two weeks after your last spring frost date once the weather is thoroughly settled. Determine the best seeding date by counting backwards four to six weeks from the transplant date. You don’t want to start seeds indoors too early, or they may become overgrown, rootbound, and leggy. The spindly potted seedlings with early flowers on them are typically very stressed and less likely to perform their best.

These seeds need warm soil to germinate. Use a soil thermometer probe to ensure that the soil is at least 75 to 90°F (24 to 32°C). A seed starting heat mat is highly recommended for even germination. 

To start ‘Celebrity’ from seed:

  • Fill 4-Cell or 6-Cell trays with a quality well-drained seed starter mix.
  • Tap the tray on the table to settle the soil, then fill to the top again.
  • Use your finger to create a small impression in the center of each cell.
  • Sow 1 to 2 seeds per cell.
  • Plant seeds about ¼ inch deep, or twice the depth of their largest dimension.
  • Cover with a light dusting of soil.
  • Water generously. Keep consistently moist, but never soggy.
  • If you have a bottom tray, fill water from the bottom and allow the soil to suck up the moisture through the drainage holes.
  • Wait 5-10 days for germination.
  • Once seedlings are 2 inches tall, thin to one plant per cell.
  • Grow in 70-80°F (21-27°C) temperatures for 4 to 6 weeks.

These hybrids are very vigorous and may outperform other varieties in the nursery. If the plants start getting “leggy,” they need more light. Elongated stems with large spaces between leaves are a key symptom of insufficient light because the plants are reaching upwards toward the sun.

Give these plants at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day or supplement with a grow light. As the seedlings increase in height, raise the grow light to accommodate more space.

Direct Sowing

Close-up of a gardener's hand sowing tiny tomato seeds into dark brown soil in a garden.
For optimal growth, direct sow seeds in reliably warm conditions.

Direct seeding is only recommended in warm climates. If the weather is consistently above 50°F (10°C) and the soil is at least 70°F (21°C), it is safe to plant tomato seeds outdoors. Sow the seeds ¼ inch deep and cover with a light layer of soil. It helps to sow extra seeds to ensure proper germination. Once they are a few inches tall, thin to one plant every 24-36 inches. 

Planting

Like all garden tomatoes, ‘Celebrity’ is best planted in late spring. The plants will eagerly yield all summer and into the fall. Wait until nighttime air temperatures are 45°F (7°C) or warmer. A plastic low tunnel, cloche, or layer of row fabric can be very helpful for protecting young seedlings from cold snaps.

Hardening Off

Close-up of a gardener holding a large seed starter tray with young tomato seedlings outdoors for hardening off.
Hardening off ensures robust, resilient tomatoes for your garden.

Whether you start seeds on your own or purchase ‘Celebrity’ tomatoes from a nursery, hardening off is a vital step. It is basically like moving the baby from the cradle into the real world. This gradual acclimation to outdoor weather reduces the risk of transplant shock, ultimately yielding faster-growing, happier tomatoes. 

At the same time, the young plants can adjust to slightly less water and attention. If you want to enjoy quality fruits ASAP, don’t skip this step.

To harden off the seedlings:

  • When the weather has settled, move seedlings to a protected outdoor area like a porch or patio, ensuring they still get bright sun exposure.
  • Gradually reduce water, but don’t let the soil completely dry out.
  • Add a layer of row fabric over the plants to protect from chilly nights.
  • After a few days, move the seedlings out into the garden while still in their containers.
  • Check for signs of stress, like yellow or scalded leaves. This means they need more TLC and time to adjust.
  • Wait a few days before transplanting.

Rootbound tomatoes are particularly prone to transplant shock, so be sure to pull your seedlings out of their trays and check the roots in advance. If the spring weather is unpredictable, you may need to up-pot seedlings to keep them in trays longer than usual.

How to Transplant

Close-up of a gardener in white gloves transplanting a young tomato seedling into the soil in a sunny garden.
Prep a sunny garden bed, dig deep, and plant carefully.

Prepare your best south-facing garden bed with rich, well-drained soil. Spread a nice layer of compost before transplanting. Lay out a measuring tape to mark the spacing.

Use a hori hori planting knife or a shovel to dig a hole about twice as wide and deep as the root ball. Remember that tomatoes can root all along their stems. Planting the seedlings extra deep ensures strong roots. However, you must gently remove any lower leaves that will go underground. Keep at least two sets of robust true leaves at the top.

Grasp the seedling at its base and shimmy it out of the container. If you are using Epic cell trays, you can simply push your finger through the bottom hole to release the plant. If the roots show any signs of binding (tangled or winding shape), loosen them with your fingers. This will encourage the roots to expand into the new soil.

Place the seedling in the hole and backfill with soil. Give new transplants a generous soak with the garden hose, and maintain consistent moisture during the first few weeks.

Spacing

Close-up of rows of tomato seedlings in a raised wooden bed inside a greenhouse.
Space tomatoes well for optimal growth and disease prevention.

‘Celebrity’ determinate tomatoes reach between three and six feet tall and two to three feet wide. Ensure a minimum spacing of 24-36 inches between plants. This allows enough space for a tomato cage or support.

Overcrowded plants may have lower yields and more risk of disease. Even though this hybrid is disease-resistant, it can still fall victim to fungal infections when there is reduced airflow between plants.

How to Grow

‘Celebrity’ is a beginner-friendly variety that is easy to please. As long as it has full sunlight, consistent moisture, and moderate fertility, these plants will reward you with tremendous harvests of firm, uniform red fruits. 

Light

Displaying robust green stems and vibrant, medium-green leaves with lightly serrated edges, the 'Celebrity' Tomato plant develops smooth-skinned, round, red fruits.
Ensure ‘Celebrity’ tomatoes bask in abundant sunlight for optimal growth.

Full sunlight is crucial for all tomatoes, but especially ‘Celebrity.’ Since this variety funnels so much energy into ripening fruits, it is crucial that it has enough sun to fuel its growth. Plants need a minimum of six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day. 

I always reserve the best south-facing beds in my garden for tomatoes. Avoid planting them anywhere that a structure, tree, or shrub might cast a shadow. Plants without enough light may have pale foliage, stunted growth, and spindly stems. 

Pale foliage is a major symptom to look out for because it indicates a lack of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in plant cells that regulates photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process of transforming sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into sugary glucose energy. A lack of light means reduced photosynthesis, which means less sugars to fuel sweet, flavorful tomato growth.

These tomatoes only appreciate afternoon shade or shade cloth in the hottest southern zones. Alternatively, zones 9-10 can grow ‘Celebrity’ through the fall, winter, and spring months when the sun is less intense.

Water

Watering a young tomato seedling from a large green watering can in a sunny garden.
Maintain even soil moisture for thriving, healthy tomatoes year-round.

Consistent moisture is key for healthy tomatoes. If you want to avoid fruit cracking, blossom end rot, or measly production, be sure that the soil is always moist. Less frequent, but deeper watering is ideal. You want the water to soak at least 12 inches into the soil to provide lasting hydration. Avoid frequent, shallow watering, as this can cause shallow root systems and poor calcium uptake.

Drip irrigation, soaker hoses, and ollas are the best irrigation options for gardeners. These ground-level watering systems deliver moisture straight to the root zone. Overhead irrigation like sprinklers causes unnecessary leaf wetting that can lead to fungal issues. Again, ‘Celebrity’ is disease-resistant but not invincible. It is an ideal variety for climates prone to lots of summer rainfall. But if it’s already raining a lot, there is no need to exacerbate wet foliage.

Run your irrigation lines near the base of the plants underneath mulch. Straw or leaf mulch ensures that the water stays in the soil where you want it. Bare soil is more prone to drying out because of the harsh impact of UV rays. Mulch regulates the soil moisture so your tomatoes always have access to water. Compost can also help regulate water retention and drainage.

Avoid huge fluctuations from dry soil to wet. Instead, aim for a soil consistency like a wrung-out sponge. Occasionally, stick your hand in the soil 6-12 inches deep to check the moisture level at lower depths. If it is wet on top and dry at the bottom, you are probably watering too shallowly. 

Watering and Blossom End Rot

The red tomato fruits affected by blossom end rot exhibit dark, sunken lesions at the blossom end.
To combat blossom end rot, prioritize consistent, deep watering practices.

Blossom end rot is one of the biggest problems gardeners face with these red fruits. Contrary to popular belief, the rotten tomato “butts” are not actually a disease; they are caused by a calcium deficiency. However, supplementing with extra calcium isn’t always the answer since most soils already have enough calcium. 

The real issue is calcium availability. When the soil constantly fluctuates from extreme dryness to extreme wetness, the plant cannot adequately uptake the minerals it needs. Before supplementing with calcium fertilizer, try adjusting your watering schedule. Consistent deep watering could improve or eliminate the issue.

Soil

Close-up of a young tomato seedling with green scalloped leaves covered with water droplets among loose dark brown soil in the garden.
Optimal soil preparation ensures tomatoes thrive and produce abundantly.

Well-drained, compost-rich soil is ideal for tomatoes. Save your best garden beds for ‘Celebrity,’ and you will not be disappointed! This variety can grow in poorer soils, but it will always perform best in loamy, rich dirt. 

If your soil is poor or compacted, amend generously with compost, peat moss, and perlite. Alternatively, grow these tomatoes in raised beds or grow bags. Raised beds are advantageous because they provide extra drainage and easy access without the backbreaking work of shoveling. Grow bags allow you to cultivate an abundance of tomatoes in a small space or sunny patio. They have handles to move the plants around.

Whatever container you choose, fill it with a standard organic potting mix that is rich in compost. Tomatoes prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8, similar to most garden crops. Excessively alkaline soil (high pH) will prevent uptake of vital nutrients. Elemental sulfur or peat moss can help reduce the pH of alkaline soil.

Climate and Temperature

Young tomato seedlings grow on a wooden raised bed covered with green row fabric.
For optimal growth, ensure warm temperatures and protect from extreme weather.

‘Celebrity’ is a diva about temperature. Warm weather above 50°F (10°C) is a must, ideally 70-80°F (21-27°C). Plants will suffer in temperatures below 45°F (7°C). They absolutely cannot handle frost. Row cover is particularly useful for protecting young plants. 

This thin agricultural fabric allows sunlight and water in while insulating the area around the plants. It is also advantageous for physically deterring early-season pests. However, it’s important to remove row fabric once the plants begin flowering. The flowers need wind and pollinators to properly spread their pollen and produce fruit. 

In areas with sweltering summers, this hybrid may stop producing if temperatures are regularly above 95°F (35°C). Rest assured, the plants usually begin fruiting again when the weather is cool. Mulch and shade cloth can be used to keep plants cooler during the hottest season.

Fertilizing

Close-up of a gardener's hand wearing a multi-colored glove applying granular fertilizer with a green spatula to a young tomato seedling in the garden.
Feed your tomatoes with balanced, slow-release organic nutrients.

Well-balanced fertility is key for award-winning tomatoes. Espoma Tomato-Tone is our top pick because it provides organic, slow-release nutrients. This balanced fertilizer has an NPK ratio of 3-4-6. The higher amount of potassium ensures proper fruit development and ripening. It also has greensand and bone meal for extra calcium to help prevent blossom end rot. These organic ingredients gradually become available to the plant as soil microorganisms “fix” and transform them. 

Add a nice handful or scoop of balanced fertilizer at the time of planting and again right when the tomatoes begin flowering. Follow package instructions for different brands and avoid overdoing it.

Overfertilizing ‘Celebrity’ tomatoes with nitrogen is particularly problematic. Excess nitrogen, especially quick-release synthetic nitrates, can cause an overgrowth of foliage. The overload of green, leafy growth pulls the plant’s energy away from flower and fruit production. 

Maintenance

Close-up of a woman's hand picking a ripe tomato with smooth, shiny skin of a rich red color against a blurred background of green foliage.
Regular harvesting of ripening fruit encourages continuous production of flowers.

While many indeterminate tomatoes require pruning and staking or trellising, ‘Celebrity’ is easygoing about maintenance. These plants can get by with a simple tomato cage. Pruning is not necessary for this bush variety, but removing a few suckers won’t hurt. 

Suckers are the side shoots that emerge in the 45° angles where stems connect to the main stalk. Determinates do not produce as many suckers as indeterminate types, but removing them can still help focus energy on fruit. 

When fruit begins ripening, harvest regularly to promote more production. Fruits left on the plant can pull energy away from new flowers forming.

Varieties

The Glacier Bush tomato is characterized by its small, round fruits that ripen to a vibrant red color.
‘Glacier Bush’ tomatoes thrive in compact spaces with abundant sunlight.

If you can’t find ‘Celebrity’ hybrid tomatoes, similar red slicer varieties include:

Companion Plants

Tomatoes grow excellently when combined with companion plants that attract pollinators, deter pests, or create habitat for beneficial insects. These flowers and herbs can be grown right next to your ‘Celebrity’ tomatoes or in neighboring beds. Ensure at least 12 inches of space between neighboring plants to prevent overcrowding.

Marigolds

Marigolds are vibrant, compact flowers with dense clusters of rounded petals in shades of yellow, orange, and red, set against lush green foliage.
French marigolds are ideal companions for tomatoes, deterring pests effectively.

One of the most well-researched companion plants, marigolds are a perfect addition to your tomato bed. These vibrantly colored flowers have roots that suppress root-knot nematodes below the ground in the second season after they are planted. At the same time, the fragrant blossoms deter pests and attract beneficial predators. 

French marigolds have a compact growth that complements ‘Celebrity’ and won’t overgrow your plants. Avoid growing African marigolds in close proximity, as those plants grow very large and may compete with your crop.

White Alyssum

White Alyssum is characterized by its delicate clusters of tiny, four-petaled flowers that form dense mats, creating a soft, cloud-like appearance against its small, oval-shaped leaves.
Sweet alyssum attracts beneficial insects.

As an organic farmer, I never grew a bed of tomatoes without white alyssum. Also known as sweet alyssum, this adorable low-growing white flower is a magnet for beneficial insects. Bees, butterflies, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings are just a few of the frequent visitors to its humble blossoms.

White alyssum makes the perfect ground cover in tomato beds. It can creep around like a living mulch without crowding your tomatoes. The plants flower all summer and reduce pest issues around your celebrities.

Basil

Holy basil features small leaves that are green, with spikes of delicate, reddish-зеленые flowers.
Basil’s aromatic presence enhances and protects nearby tomato plants effectively.

Whether you like Italian, holy basil, or Thai basil, any variety of this fragrant herb can complement tomatoes. The bushy growth of basil is ideal for interplanting, but you must ensure that the plants have 12-18 inches of space from the neighboring crops. Basil has a strong fragrance that deters pests. It also tastes delightful with a fresh-sliced plump ‘Celebrity.’ 

Pests and Diseases

This hybrid is most revered for its impressive disease-resistance package. The plants are very unlikely to succumb to pathogens, but preventative tacts are still useful.

Pests

The Tomato hornworm is a large, green caterpillar with distinctive diagonal white stripes along its sides and a prominent horn-like protrusion at its rear.
To protect your tomato plants, promptly remove and dispose of hornworms.

Aphids attack everything in the garden, and tomatoes are no different. If you see these white or green oval-shaped sap-suckers on the underside of leaves, use a strong blast of water to knock them off. Severe infestations can be sprayed with diluted neem oil or horticultural soap.

Tomato hornworms are voracious caterpillars that munch on massive amounts of foliage in a day. They are the larval stage of the five-spotted hawk moth. If you notice the chunky green hornworms feasting on your plants, remove them immediately. To support pollinators, you can move them to wild nightshade plants if there are any nearby.

Plant lots of insectary flowers in the vicinity to encourage parasitic wasps to take care of hornworms for you. If you see gnarly white worms emerging from a dead hornworm, it is a sign that it was parasitized—a major biocontrol success!

Flea beetles and fruit worms can also be issues, but they are unlikely to cause major harm. Maintain healthy, stress-free plants by consistently watering the soil and checking the fruits.

Diseases

Tomato leaves affected by mosaic virus display a mosaic pattern of light and dark green patches.
Tomato plants affected by mosaic virus show distinctive mottled foliage.

The ‘Celebrity’ hybrid is naturally resistant to Verticillium wilt, Fusarium wilt (races 1 and 2), tomato mosaic virus, Alternaria stem canker, and root-knot nematodes. If any of these pathogens attack your garden, ‘Celebrity’ may be the last one standing. 

Still, it’s helpful to take preventative measures:

  • Avoid overhead irrigation that regularly soaks plant foliage.
  • Space plants at least 24” apart and ensure proper airflow. Widen spacing in humid climates.
  • Practice companion planting.
  • Remove leaves and plants that show signs of disease.
  • Carefully source seeds and seedlings from reputable companies.

What Are ‘Celebrity Tomatoes’ Best For? (Plant Uses)

Preparation of burgers consisting of buns, sauce, cabbage, cutlets and slices of bright red tomatoes.
Tomatoes enhance burger flavor with their juicy, tangy sweetness.

‘Celebrity’ tomatoes are ideal for fresh-eating on sandwiches, burgers, and salads. The plump, balanced fruits have low acidity and a dense texture that won’t cause soggy bread. They can also be used in salsas, canning, pasta sauce, and tomato soup. The iconic tomatoey flavor makes them a prized choice for any tomato-centered recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do ‘Celebrity’ tomatoes produce all summer?

This reliable hybrid produces the bulk of its fruits in mid-season, but it will continue ripening juicy tomatoes until the first frosts of fall. Ensure your plants have consistent moisture and proper support (like a tomato cage) to promote continued production. A lack of flowers and fruit could be a sign of low sunlight, improper watering, or lack of pollination.

Is ‘Celebrity’ tomato a beefsteak?

No, this is a 4” red slicer variety. Beefsteak tomatoes are much larger and meatier. Still, ‘Celebrity’ has the same density and deep flavor of a beefsteak.

Final Thoughts

Add a true star to your garden by planting this iconic hybrid. An AAS award-winning tomato, ‘Celebrity’ bushes are eager to please even the most beginner growers. Remember to plant in the sunniest place possible, amend the soil with lots of compost, and fertilize with a balanced organic fertilizer that is high in potassium. 

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Close-up of a man's hand holding a giant, ripe, ribbed tomato with shiny bright red skin, growing among green foliage.

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