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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - April 24, 2005

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Edible Plants, Poisonous Plants, Deer Resistant
Title: Smarty Plants on Texas cherry tomato
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We just bought 2 Texas cherry tomato plants at the plant sale. We have to container garden in a walled courtyard due to deer. (Would deer be attracted to the plants in a garden with herbs and high deer resistant plants?) The courtyard gets plenty of morning and early afternoon sun, direct and indirect. Nothing in the database helped as to size of container, soil type, watering, & feeding. I had another more basic question about these Texas cherry tomato plants. Are these plants culinary, edible tomatoes? I would greatly appreciate your guidance. Thanks.

ANSWER:

First of all, the deer are not likely to eat the tomato plants. The foliage has a very strong odor and flavor; and, in fact, the foliage is poisonous. The Texas cherry tomato (Solanum lycopersicum var, cerasiforme) is a member of the Family Solanaceae (nightshade family) which does have many members that are noted for their toxicity. The berries on the Texas cherry tomato are not poisonous, but the foliage and roots are.

Your plants should do well in a 3- or 4- gallon clay pot in potting soil on your patio. These Texas natives do well in sun or part shade. You can read about growing container tomatoes from the National Gardening Association.

I hope your tomato plants flourish and produce a beautiful crop of berries for you, but in case you have problems you can find out about tomato disorders from TAMU Aggie Horticulture.

 

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