Celery, as we all know, packs great flavor and nutrients. Your veggie platter simply wouldn’t be complete without crunchy celery sticks. I’d love for you to grow one yourself! So today’s post is all about how to grow celery at home.
Celery is a versatile ingredient to have in the kitchen. Its crunchiness is always welcome in any salad and it’s a great addition to stocks. You can even enjoy it raw. Partner it up with hummus and you got yourself a healthy snack.
Plus, it’s a vegetable that kids wouldn’t have any problems eating. Remember “ants in a log”? We all know you’ve been tricked into eating vegetables when you were a kid, but that especially was truly delicious and fun!
It doesn’t hurt that it’s healthy for you too. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A, K, and C as well as minerals like potassium and folate. It’s also known to reduce inflammation and aid in healthy digestion.
I’ve had a pleasant experience growing these in my garden so I thought I could share some tips with you guys. It’s a bit tricky but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a celery expert in no time!
Keep on reading for a complete growing guide on celery.
Difficulty Level, Maintenance, And Other Advantages
First things first, celery is a finicky plant to grow. It’s a bit challenging and it requires a lot of patience. Even I had a bit of difficulty when I was first growing it. See, this has a very long growing season and it’s sensitive to both heat and cold. So it is quite tricky.
If you are new to gardening, I suggest you first start with the easier plants to grow like garlic. This one is for the relatively experienced gardener to veterans.
It is a high-maintenance vegetable to grow as it needs to be watered all the time. And it takes about 130 to 140 days for celery to grow. But once you know what it needs specifically, it’ll be a very simple plant to care for.
Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to eat your own fresh batch of celery knowing that there aren’t any harmful chemicals on it? Fresh picked vegetables and fruits are more flavorful and nutrient-packed than store bought ones.
Don’t worry! I’ll tell you all the things you need to know about growing celery. All your questions are already answered down below.
So are you ready for this challenge? Good luck, gardeners!
When is the best time to plant celery?
I know you’re excited to start planting your celery but first, you need to check your calendar and your local frost dates. You need to get ahead of the season and start seeds indoors so check your local frost dates for accuracy.
Celery can be grown as a winter crop in the South and as a summer crop in the North. For other areas, it is typically grown as a fall crop. Depending on your region, pick the best season to start your celery plant.
For a late-summer crop, make sure to sow seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last local spring frost. For a fall crop, sow seeds indoors in summer. Time it so that you can set out the celery transplants 10 to 12 weeks before the first autumn frost.
How do I start a celery plant?
You can grow celery from seeds or from transplants. But you’ll have a hard time finding transplants in your local garden center specifically for your area. This is a tricky plant, especially when young, so it’s best to just start from seeds.
If you start from seeds, you’ll have more cultivars to choose from. I’ll give you my favorite varieties later.
Like I’ve said before, starting seeds indoors is the best way to start a celery plant. This vegetable has a very long growing season so you’ll be needing to start ahead of it for the best results.
What celery varieties should I grow?
One of the perks of growing celery in your own garden is you get to choose the variety you want. And there are a number of cultivars that you can experiment with! There are three main types of celery: Leaf Celery, Celeriac, and Pascal.
The most popular among the three is the Pascal also known as stalk celery. It thrives in USDA zones 2 to 10. These regions are perfect because Pascal celery likes long and cool growing climates. It’ll take 105 to 130 days for these stalks to mature.
These celebrities are sensitive to extreme high and low temperatures. It will affect your plant’s growth. The best temperatures for Pascal is below 75 F. (23 C.). The night temperatures should just be between 50-60 F. (10-15 C.).
Consider growing these varieties under Pascal: Golden Boy (self blanching with short stalks), Conquistador (early maturing cultivar), Tall Utah (has long stalks) and Monterey (matures earlier that Conquistador).
Leaf Celery, on the other hand, is best grown in USDA 5a through 8b. It grows thick stalks and its leaves are very aromatic. Unlike the Pascal variety, this type of celery is mostly grown for its leaves and seeds. They’re used for cooking and has the strongest ‘celery taste’.
Some varieties to consider are Safir (has quite a peppery flavor) and Flora 55 (resistant to bolting).
Celeriac is the last type of celery. These are grown for its roots. Its delicious roots are peeled and used for cooking. It can even be eaten raw. Much like what you would do with a celery stalk. It takes 100 to 120 days to grow this type of celery, relatively shorter compared to the others.
These are also typically grown in USDA zones 8 and 9. Check these cultivars: Diamante, President, Brilliant, Mentor, and Giant Prague.
These varieties have more or less the same growing conditions. So no worries. You wouldn’t have any problems trying different ones. Just pick the best variety for your region.
Take note: Good quality seeds gives you a better chance for a successful harvest. Buy fresh quality seeds from a trusted source. You can buy a seed pack at your local garden center or if you want more choices, purchase one online (link to Amazon).
Should I grow celery in a container or grow it in the ground?
You can grow celery in garden beds or in containers. Depending on the space you have in your house, you can choose either of the two.
But if you’re growing celery, you’ll probably be planting a large batch good enough for a standard family. You’ll be needing a lot of space so I suggest to grow it on a garden bed.
Plus, celery need to have consistently moist soil. We all know that when growing plants in containers, soil tends to dry up quicker than when planted on the ground.
If you are going to plant in containers, make sure you use a plastic one. Those kinds retain more moisture. An 8” pot will do. A single established celery plant will grow well in that kind of pot.
But in this growing guide, we’re going to grow celery in a garden bed so we’ll have enough supply for the whole family.
How do I prepare the soil?
Celery will thrive on most medium-textured mineral soils so long as it is rich and fertile. Make sure you incorporate a lot of organic matter into the soil before planting. Do this about a week before transplanting your seedlings into their final location.
It’s quite a heavy feeder and it needs enough nutrients for a successful harvest. Other than the organic matter you’ve mixed in, it’s also a good idea to add in a multi-purpose fertilizer to the soil. Mix in about one pound of 5-10-10 per 30 square feet of your raised bed.
The soil must also be moist at all times but not waterlogged. Apply mulch to aid in moisture retention.
How do I plant the celery?
The first thing you need to do is to start sowing seeds indoors. For a late-summer crop, make sure to sow seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last local spring frost.
For a fall crop (second harvest), sow seeds indoors in summer (May or June). Time it so that you can set out the celery transplants 10 to 12 weeks before the first autumn frost. This will probably be in June or July.
- To sow seeds indoors, first, soak the seeds in warm water overnight prior to sowing. Doing this encourages a faster germination time.
- Get a seed tray or a pot and fill it with a seed-starting potting soil (link to Amazon). Alternatively, you can fill it with equal parts of compost and sand mixed in. But I prefer the seed-starting potting mix, it’s much easier.
- Press the seeds into the soil 1 inch apart. No need to cover them with the ground so long as they’re pressed in properly.
- Cover the container with plastic covers to hold in the moisture. Seeds will sprout in about a week.
- Place the container in a bright spot but do not place it under direct sun. See to it that you keep the temperature at 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. At night, temperatures should be about 60 degrees.
- Provide plenty of water and keep the soil evenly moist at all times.
- When the seedlings reach about 2 inches in height, it’s time to transplant them into individual pots.
- When they get 6 inches tall, it’s time to harden the seedlings. Do this by placing them outdoors for several hours a day for 10 days and reducing the amount of water you give them lightly so they get acclimated to their final location.
- After 10 days, transplant them onto the raised bed. Space each transplant 6 to 8 inches apart in a row. Allow 2 to 3 feet of space between each row. Dig a hole no deeper than the size they grew in pots.
- Water each transplant generously with a compost tea mixed in.
You’re done planting your celery!
Now it’s time to wait for it to grow and give it the proper plant care that it needs.
How and when do I thin my celery plant?
Since we placed individual seedlings in seed trays and did not directly sow seeds on the ground, thinning is not really necessary.
How much water does my celery plant really need?
Consistent moisture is the key to a successful celery plant. A growing celery plant especially needs evenly moist soil at all times. Give your plants at least 1 inch of water a week. They wouldn’t tolerate any kind of drought so don’t forget to water them.
Add in several inches of mulch on your raised bed to aid in moisture retention. Make sure you remove any weeds you see so it won’t compete with your celery for nutrients.
During hot and dry weather make sure you water your plants generously. If your plants don’t get enough water it will diminish the taste of the celery and its stalks might get dry and small.
How often does my celery plants need to be fertilized?
The organic matter and the multipurpose fertilizer you’ve incorporated during soil preparation will provide adequate nutrients for the celery to grow. But it is a heavy feeder so an additional application of fertilizer throughout the season is needed.
I have two ways of feeding my celery plants and either of these have produced great results.
The first one is by feeding them with compost tea every 10 to 14 days. A balanced fertilizer will also work well.
The second one is by feeding them with a 5-10-10 fertilizer (link to Amazon) during the second and third month of growth. Make sure that each plant gets one tablespoon of the fertilizer.
Sprinkle some in a shallow furrow that is 3 to 4 inches away from the plant. Cover it lightly with soil.
How much sun does my celery plant need?
Celeries will thrive in full sun to part sun. It needs at least 6 hours of sunlight daily so place it somewhere warm and sunny. Although, make sure they can get enough shade during the hottest part of the day.
I told you this is a finicky plant to grow, it doesn’t like extreme heat and cold. Speaking of cold, if you observe that the temperatures at night are consistently below 55 degrees, cover them with cloches to protect them.
If left alone, the stalks might become weak.
Which climate better suits celery? (Best Hardiness Zones)
Generally, celery plants can perfectly grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 2 through 10. Celery prefers long cool growing climates so these zones are perfect for growing celery.
If you want to get specific consider this: The Pascal celery thrives in USDA zones 2 to 10. Leaf Celery, on the other hand, is best grown in USDA 5a through 8b. Lastly, Celeriac is typically grown in USDA zones 8 and 9.
Always remember to choose the best cultivar for your region to assure successful growth!
How long does it take to grow celery?
Depending on the variety you choose to grow and the growing conditions in your garden, days to maturity varies. Although, most celery varieties take at least 130 to 140 days from seed to mature.
The Pascal celery or stalk celery takes about 105 to 130 days for its stalks to mature. Celeriac, on the other hand, takes 100 to 120 days to mature.
What are the common pests and diseases that could ruin my celery plant and how do I avoid it?
Growing celery requires a lot of time and during those months, you will encounter some diseases and pests but if you’re prepared enough, you might even skip out on these problems completely.
Here are some of the diseases you need to look out for:
Downy mildew – You can spot this disease when you observe yellow spots on leaf surfaces and patches of mold on the underside. This nasty disease affects young, tender leaves. Prolonged leaf wetness is one of its causes.
To avoid this, plant pathogen-free seed. Remember high quality seeds will go a long way. Also, do not overcrowd your plants. Avoid overhead irrigation. Water your celery from the base.
Powdery Mildew – Symptoms include stunted and shriveled leaves as well as white powdery deposits over the leaf surface. See to it that the soil is kept moist to avoid this problem.
- Pink Rot, Early blight, and Late Blight – Symptoms include small dots on the leaves and white or pink coloration at stalk bases. The best way to control it is by practicing Crop rotation.
Here are some pests you need to look out for:
- Parsley worms
- Carrot rust flies
- Celery leaf tiers
- Flea beetles
An effective way to control or prevent most of these pests from attacking your plant besides keeping them healthy is by spraying them with an organic pesticides like Neem Oil.
You can also cover your plants with a row cover, the garden fabric kind, for the first 4 to 6 weeks of the growing season.
You can also control most of these pests like slugs, snails, and celery leaf tiers by handpicking them away from your plants.
What other crops could I plant together with my celery to maximize my garden space?
One way to maximize your garden space is by practicing companion planting. If you’re not familiar with companion planting or if you are relatively new to gardening, here’s the idea behind it.
There are certain plants that are better when grown together. Some of the benefits they can get from each other include natural pest control, higher crop yield and shade protection for sun-sensitive plants.
For example, planting celery next to vegetables that are members of the cabbage family will repel the pests that attack them like the cabbage white butterfly. These pests hate the smell of celery.
Here are some plants you can grow next to your celery:
I hope this inspires you to plant more vegetables and crops so your garden will grow even further. Make sure to check out my other growing guides to help you in your gardening journey.
What are the crops that will not go well with celery?
Sadly, not all plants can be grown together as it wouldn’t be beneficial for both parties. Either their growing conditions just don’t fit well together or some pests and diseases can travel or spread faster among them when grown near with each other.
Here are some of the plants you should not grow next to your celery:
- Aster flowers
How do I harvest celery and when is the best time to do it?
Celeries are ready for harvest in about 130 to 140 days from seed and depending on the variety you’ve chosen to grow. Check the growing time of the variety you chose to plant for more accuracy.
When celery stalks have reached their optimum size (about 6 inches or more from the soil line to the first leaf), it’s time to harvest them. Cut off individual stalks using garden shears or a sharp knife.
You may also harvest the whole plant when they are 3 inches (7 cm) or more in diameter. Make sure that they are tight and compact. There should be no open spaces at the center of the stalk.
Harvest the whole plant by cutting it just below the soil line. If you want the most tender stalks, pick the inner ones. They taste the best uncooked! The dark green stalks are the ones with the highest nutrients.
What is the best way to store the celery that I have harvested?
For the tastiest and nutrient-dense celery, consume them the same day they’re picked up to a week. Tasting these hard-earned vegetables is so satisfying!
Store the remaining celery in a cold and moist area preferably in 32°-40°F (0°-4°C). Somewhere cold but not freezing with a 95 percent relative humidity.
The best way to store them is by wrapping the celery in a moist cloth or paper towel and placing it in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper section. Without the leaves, the celery will keep up to 2 weeks.
When stored with the leaves attached, it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.
|Botanical Name||Apium graveolens|
|Sun Exposure||Full Sun, Part Sun|
|Hardiness Zones||2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10|