Celery is a very nutritious, versatile vegetable that makes a great snack and complement to any meal. In fact, celery tastes great in many soups, stir frys, and even salads. Just like other vegetables, though, homegrown celery tastes so much better than store-bought celery. But how does one even grow celery?
Well, it turns out you can grow celery from seed or from the base of another stalk!
How to Grow Celery from Seed
Most newbies don’t realize how small celery seeds are, nor do they realize how much work planting celery requires. Once you have the basics down, however, celery can be a great plant to grow every year.
Sowing Celery Seeds
Celery requires 3 to 4 months to grow and prefers cooler weather. Therefore, you’ll want to start your seeds either 10 to 12 weeks before the last winter frost (if planting a spring crop) or 10 to 12 weeks before the first fall frost (if planting a fall crop). This will give you plenty of time to start the seeds indoors and transfer them outside.
When mapping out how to grow celery, start by soaking the celery seeds overnight to speed up the germination process. Next, fill the pots or flats you’ll use with seed starting mix. Make sure to gently press the soil to level it out before inserting the seeds. Finally, press the seeds into the soil, but do not cover them up. Try to place the seeds at least 1 inch apart. Don’t place multiple seeds in one spot.
After you’ve planted the seeds, cover the pot or flat with plastic wrap to help the soil retain moisture during the germination process. Give the seeds 1 to 3 weeks to germinate, and then begin misting and sunning regularly once the seedlings start taking off.
Celery does best in its early stages if it receives around 16 hours per day of direct lighting, which means you will want to consider using a grow light. It will also thrive if you maintain a temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and mist daily.
Once the seedlings grow to approximately 2 inches in height, place them into individual pots or deeper flats so they have more room to grow. Also begin hardening the plants for the outdoors by reducing their water and placing them outside for at least a few hours each day.
Moving Celery Seedlings to Your Garden
When your celery looks ready to live outdoors and the conditions are right for the plants to survive, prepare your garden by enriching the soil with compost or another form of natural fertilizer. In addition, make sure your celery will receive plenty of water and sunlight.
To give your celery room to grow, plant the stalks approximately 9 to 12 inches apart, depending on the exact variety. Plant them 3 to 4 inches deep into the soil so that the roots are deep enough to firmly plant themselves.
Growing Celery from a Base
If you don’t feel like dealing with the hassle of tiny celery seeds, you can still grow celery on your own—you just need one stalk of celery from the grocery store to get started!
Growing Celery: The First Week
If you plan to grow celery from the base of another stalk, you’ll need to allow about a week of indoor care before transplanting the base into a pot or your garden. This will give the stalk time to grow new sprouts and begin the regrowing process.
To begin, use a sharp knife to cut your celery stalk, leaving approximately 2 inches of base. Then, place the base in a small glass bowl or similar container with 1 inch of water in the bottom. Set the container with the base in an area that receives lots of direct sunlight, like on a windowsill or table near a window.
Leave the celery in this sunny spot for approximately 5 to 8 days. Be sure to change the water at least every other day to ensure the plant receives adequate amounts of fresh water. Once the base appears to have a healthy amount of growth, transfer it into a pot or plant in your garden.
Transplanting Your Celery Base
Just like you would do with seedlings, prepare the dirt for your celery base by providing lots of moisture and fertilizer to the potting soil. Place the base into the pot or bed, and cover it with approximately 1 inch of soil (until the base is completely covered).
Be sure to place the celery somewhere with adequate sunlight, and continue watering it regularly to keep it healthy as it grows.
Caring for Your Celery
Even after you move your celery out into the garden, it will require lots of care and attention.
For starters, celery grows best in very moist soil, so you’ll need to regularly water your celery plants. If celery does not receive enough water, the stalks will end up dry and small at the end of the growing season.
Your celery will also need careful, regular weeding. When weeding, watch out for the celery roots, as they are very delicate. Damaging the roots during weeding can cause your plants to stop growing.
Because celery can also sprawl if not cared for properly, you may want to tie the stalks together in bunches. If your celery isn’t self-blanching, you’ll need to bank soil up around the plant’s base several weeks into growing. You can also blanch the celery using newspaper or paper milk cartons.
Harvesting Celery Plants
Depending on your growing conditions and the season in which you planted your celery, it should be ready to harvest approximately 4 months after you started growing it. To know if it’s ready, measure the head of the stalk—it should be 2 to 3 inches in diameter. You can also look for the stalks to be approximately 8 inches tall, but the exact sizing may vary based on the specific variety of celery you planted.
You could harvest the entire plant, but you can also just cut the stalk close to the soil level and take in what you need. Just harvesting parts of the plant allows you to grow celery for longer.
Once harvested, you can clean up the stalks and simply store them in Ziplock bags or similar containers in your refrigerator. Celery stalks will typically last a few weeks if chilled.
Final Thoughts on How to Grow Celery
Growing celery is an investment of time and energy, but it’s well worth it! Just give yourself a few months to get your celery stalks growing, and then you can enjoy the robust flavors of homegrown celery at any time.
Looking for tips on other things you can grow at home? Click here to learn how to grow garlic indoors or outdoors!
Megan Glosson is a mother and freelance writer based Nashville, Tennessee. She enjoys writing on a variety of parenting topics, but loves taking on anything with a personal connection to her own life. When she’s not writing, you can probably find Megan building Legos or playing board games with her two adorable daughters. To check out more of Megan’s work or to contact her about freelance opportunities, visit meganglosson.com