How to Grow Celery

Four Methods:Choosing a VarietyPrepping Your GardenPlanting the CeleryCaring for Your Celery Plants

A Mediterranean native, celery grows best in temperate climates with temperatures between 59 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Because celery is a long-season crop, it can be difficult to grow in some areas and works best when seeds are started indoors. Though a bit stubborn at times, celery plants will produce crisp, delicious stalks when grown in a temperate climate in moist, nitrogen-rich soil. Follow the steps below to learn how to plant celery in your garden.

Method 1
Choosing a Variety

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    Grow leaf celery (Apium graveolens var. secalinum) in USDA hardiness zones 5a through 8b. Leaf celery grows from a strong stalk and produces delicious leaves that are more flavorful than the leaves of other varieties. While there are several varieties of leaf celery to choose from, a few popular varieties include Par-Cel, a Dutch heirloom variety, Safir, which has a spicy crunch to it, and Flora-55, which is best at resisting bolting.
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    Grow celeriac (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum) in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 and 9. Celeriac grows an oversized root that can be harvested and eaten in addition to the stalks. A root takes about 100 days to grow large enough to be harvested and cooked. Celeriac, which likes especially cool coastal climate conditions, comes in several varieties including Brilliant, Giant Prague, Mentor, President and Diamant.
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    Grow traditional celery (Apium graveolens var. dulce) in USDA plant hardiness zones 2 through 10. Traditional celery requires long, temperate growing seasons and takes about 105 to 130 days to mature enough for harvest.
    • It does not like extreme temperatures and grows best with conditions under 75 °F (24 °C) during the day and between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
    • Some varieties include Conquistador and Monterey, which are ready for harvest earlier than most varieties, Golden Boy, which produces stunted stalks, and Tall Utah, which produces tall, vibrant stalks.[1]

Method 2
Prepping Your Garden

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    Choose an area with full sun and/or partial shade. While preferring a temperate climate, celery also enjoys full sun if possible. However, it will grow well in partial shade as well.
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    Choose an area with rich, moist soil. Originally a wetland plant, celery can tolerate relatively moist soil conditions that other vegetables cannot. However, make sure the planting area you choose is not prone to flooding.
    • You may want to build a raised bed to plant your celery in. Keep in mind that some varieties of celery grow very large harvestable roots, so make sure to build your planter deep enough if you choose to do so.
    • Use cedar wood to build the planter bed if possible, as it does not mold when it gets wet.
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    Test the pH of the soil. Celery varieties prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Though celery does not require impeccable drainage like most vegetables, it does require rich, healthy soil.
    • Evaluate the soil's calcium and magnesium levels in order to determine what type of limestone to add to your soil. If the soil is low in magnesium, add dolomitic limestone. If it is high in magnesium, add calcitic limestone.
    • Add the limestone two to three months before planting if possible to allow the soil to absorb it. After adding, check the pH again.[2]
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    Fertilize the soil with manure, compost, or any other high-nitrogen organic fertilizer. Mix about four inches of organic fertilizer into your soil. Celery likes extremely rich, organic soil. This will help the seedlings grow into strong, producing plants.

Method 3
Planting the Celery

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    Start your celery seeds indoors about 10 to 12 weeks before the last spring frost. You can sow the seeds in peat pots with several seeds per cell to ensure that at least one will germinate into a seedling.
    • To speed up germination, you can pre-soak your seeds in water overnight.[3]
    • Cover with about one-inch of potting soil but do not pat down with your fingers after sowing the seeds. Celery seeds need a lot of light to germinate. Water the peat pots to moisten the soil after planting your seeds.
    • Place your seeds in a warm place so that the soil stays between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit until the seeds germinate. This should take two to three weeks.
    • After germination, place the seedlings in a cooler indoor location so that the soil is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully thin the seedlings so that there is only one per cell after they germinate.
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    Transfer your seedlings to your garden two weeks before the last spring frost. Make sure that it is not too cold outside. Celery can handle a light frost, but temperatures below 55 °F (13 °C) in the day and 40 °F (4 °C) at night for longer than one week can harm your celery plants.
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    Plant the seedlings six to 12 inches (30.5 cm) apart in rows 18 to 36 inches (45.7 to 91.4 cm) apart. You only need to dig holes slightly deeper than the depth of the peat pots cells. Pat the sides of the cells to get the seedlings to slip out without harming the roots.
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    Place the seedlings in the ground and cover with soil. Only cover up to the first level of foliage and pat the planting area around the seedlings lightly with your hands for support.
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    Water the planting area very thoroughly. Celery requires constant moisture, so do not allow the soil to dry out at any time. If celery does not get enough water, the stalks will be stringy and bitter. Be sure to water several times per week and increase your watering routine during particularly warm or dry spells.
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    Add mulch to the planting area. To keep the soil cool and moist, add a few inches of mulch made of leaves, grass, hay, or other plant material on top of the soil. Doing so also helps reduce the ability of weeds to infiltrate the planting area.[4]

Method 4
Caring for Your Celery Plants

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    Fertilize every two to four weeks. Celery plants are heavy feeders that require rich soil that must be fertilized frequently. To keep your celery plants happy, fertilize with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer every few weeks from planting to harvest.
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    Water your plants regularly. The most important aspect of caring for your celery plants is making sure that they are always well-hydrated. If they do not get enough water, celery plants will become shriveled and bitter to the taste.
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    Blanch celery one week to 10 days before you plan to harvest them. Blanching consists of shielding the celery stalks from the sun to achieve a milder flavor. Cover the stalks with newspaper, a milk carton with the top and bottom removed, or any other type or paper or cardboard. You can use twine to tie the celery stalks to keep them from sprawling.
    • While blanching is not required, it will alter the taste and color of your celery. Additionally, blanched celery is less nutritious than unblanched celery. Most people prefer the sweeter taste of blanched celery.
    • Be aware that some varieties are "self-blanching" and don't need to be blanched.[5]
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    Harvest the celery stalks, leaves, and/or roots. You can begin to harvest the stalks when they reach eight inches in height. Make sure to begin your harvest from the outside stalks and work inward. This allows the innermost stalks to continue to mature.
    • Once mature, celery can sit in the ground for about one month as long as the soil remains a cool temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • The longer the celery grows and the darker it becomes, the more rich in antioxidants, and thus nutritious, it will be. However, it will also become more tough and fibrous.[6]


  • Store celery in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  • The leafy tops of celery are also edible.
  • If removing only some stalks from the celery for use, be careful not to damage the plant or disease may set in.


  • Pests include aphids, thrips, slugs, and snails. Fire blight or septoria leaf spot can be a problem; use a fungicide.
  • Inadequate watering can cause black heart; this happens when the celery doesn't get sufficient water and calcium uptake.

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Categories: Growing Vegetables