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Home & Lifestyle

How to Grow and Harvest Celery in Your Home Garden

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: May 5, 2020 • 5 min read

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The celery plant, Apium graveolens, is a biennial crop known for its sizable stalks and aromatic leaves. You can grow celery from a seed, which takes more effort and care, or you can grow celery from the base of a stalk—such as one you would buy in the grocery store.

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When to Plant Celery

Celery is a cool-weather crop that’s easily affected by frost, which means there’s a very specific window when temperatures will be optimal for planting.

For areas with cooler springs and summers, plant celery in early spring for a summer harvest. For areas with warmer springs and summers, plant celery in late summer for a late autumn or early winter harvest.

How to Grow Celery From a Seed

Celery plants can take up to four months to mature. Starting your celery seeds indoors, and then transplanting the seedlings into your outdoor garden can protect them from birds and other critters while you wait for the soil to warm.

  1. Select a space in your home with access to direct sunlight, like a windowsill. If you don’t have access to sunlight, you can find heat mats, grow lights, and rich starter soil at garden supply centers to ensure the seeds get off to a good start.
  2. Soak seeds in warm water the night before planting, to help them germinate quicker.
  3. Press, but do not cover, seeds into a starter tray filled with soil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap to help trap warmth and retain moisture.
  4. Once seedlings appear, remove plastic wrap and position a grow light overhead. They’ll need about 16 hours of light per day; grow lights come with timers for light and dark cycles. Young celery plants need moisture so be sure to mist the plants often.
  5. When seedlings reach two inches high, it’s time to begin exposing them to the outdoors in preparation for planting. Transfer to individual peat pots with fresh soil, and place them in a warm outdoor spot for a few hours each day.
  6. The seedlings can be planted in your home garden when the soil is a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and there is no danger of frost.
  7. When transplanting your celery seedlings, make sure to sow them at the proper depth: ½ inch deep, eight inches apart.
  8. Tamp the soil firmly around them with the palm of your hand, and water whenever the surface of the soil dries out.
Ron Finley Teaches Gardening
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How to Grow Celery From a Stalk

You can successfully grow celery in your home kitchen using the base of a celery stalk. To start the process, you’ll need a small container with draining holes, fresh water, and the base of a celery stalk.

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut about two to three inches from the bottom of the celery stalk.
  2. Fill a small container (no smaller than eight inches deep), with an inch of water, then put the celery base inside. Place the container near a window with good sunlight.
  3. Within 48 hours, the celery will begin developing small roots. Change the water in the container that you’re growing the celery in every couple days.
  4. To continue the grow process, you will need to transfer the young celery plant into a pot. Fill the pot an inch or two from the rim with potting soil.
  5. Create a hollow space in the center of the soil, then place the young celery plant, bottom down, into the pot. Pack additional soil around the base of the celery plant, then water the base until the soil is damp.
  6. The celery plant will need at least six hours of full sun (or partial sunlight) throughout the day to grow.
  7. Water the container regularly to avoid stringy, pithy stalks.

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5 Celery Care Tips

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Celery plants are susceptible to pests and need frequent watering throughout its long growing season. Routine maintenance and companion planting can help your celery plant thrive.

  1. Water regularly. Celery needs a lot of water, constantly. Even temporarily dry soil can have adverse effects on the final crop. Routine watering throughout the season will prevent stringy, tough stalks.
  2. Weed with care. Celery roots are shallow and easily disturbed just below the surface of the soil.
  3. Mulch is your friend. By covering the soil with organic matter, weeds have a hard time germinating and the earth is kept cool and moist. Worms and other beneficial soil creatures love mulch; as it decays, it becomes fuel for the soil food web, just like compost. It’s important to match the right type of mulch with each crop: Celery does well with a light mulch like straw.
  4. Protect the plant. Use row covers during the first month of growing to protect young plants and new stalks from insects like aphids and earworms.
  5. Use companion planting. Companion planting can help protect your celery from pests. Plant your celery near garlic, shallots, sage, dill, and mint to attract pollinators and repel fungus and invasive insects. To learn more about celery companion planting, find our complete guide here.

How to Harvest Celery

Harvesting celery is simple: Remove outer stalks as needed, starting when they reach a height of eight inches. Use a small serrated knife to make a diagonal cut at the bottom of the stalk, leaving the inner stalks to mature.

Don’t worry if your celery stalks are darker or smaller than the average grocery store bunch—those are often grown in greenhouses and exposed to pesticides.

How to Harvest Celery Seeds

To harvest celery seeds, allow some or all of the plants to bolt, growing beyond their harvest window. When seed stalks appear on the tops of the plants, with green flowers, you should discontinue watering. Allow the celery plants to become brittle and dry, then remove them from your garden bed.

Gently tap the flowers with a spoon, or shake over a bowl, to capture the cured seeds, which you can use in the kitchen, or save for the next growing season.

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