Celery can be grown from seed or ready-grown seedlings. In the past it was considered difficult as a crop to grow, requiring a lot of work and attention.
However, this is no longer the case, as modern plant-breeding has yielded easier varieties to care for. The delicate, savoury taste of this crunchy vegetable is great in salads, as a snack, in soup or turned into juice. Follow our easy growing guide for how to grow celery.
When to plant celery
Seeds should be planted out in March and April once there is no risk of a hard frost. However, ready-grown seedlings need to be planted from May to June. Ideally, the environment for growing celery needs to avoid temperature or weather extremes.
How to plant celery
The soil needs to be well prepared in order to grow a successful crop. It is important to dig it over prior to planting, removing stones and weeds, and mixing in well-rotted manure. Around a week before planting, a light sprinkling of general-purpose granular fertiliser should be raked in to ensure the soil is in tip-top condition.
How to grow celery from seed
To plant celery from seed, fill a container – a tray or pot – with seed compost. Celery seeds are particularly fine and can be difficult to handle; lightly sow the seed across the surface of the compost – it may be easier to take a pinch of seed at a time.
Water by standing the container in a saucer or larger tray of water, enabling the water to soak up into the compost, rather than pouring in from on top to disturb the seeds. Cover with a thin layer of vermiculite and place the pot or tray in a location with constant warmth. A heated propagating matt is ideal, although you could alternatively use a windowsill or a greenhouse.
Keep the compost moist, and don’t let it dry out. If you are using a propagator, remove the seedlings once germinated. When the seedlings have formed leaves they need to be potted on.
Use standard 7 to 8 cm pots. Fill these with multi-purpose compost and water the plants in. After five weeks, or when the seedlings have reached 8 to 10 cm in height, the plants can be toughened up in a cold frame or sheltered outdoors location. In May or June, when weather conditions are good, plant out into their final location.
Plant out your seedlings in deep trenches, with the crown of each plant at ground level. Leave a space of 25 to 30 cm between plants, and arrange them in a grid rather than a row for best results. Water plants thoroughly.
Did you know? Although celery will blanch naturally after it is picked, and some varieties are self-blanching. Some gardeners blanch the stalks while growing to reduce bitterness and to produce the pale stems usually eaten. Covering the stems with soil or mulch will produce this result, built up around the stalks around 4 weeks before harvesting.
Celery is usually harvested from August onwards until the first frosts of autumn. When the celery has reached the size required, harvest it either by cutting off the plant just above the soil line – all the stalks as one unit – or harvest the outer stalks leaving the inner ones intact. Wash the stalks or stalk bulb and dry.
Stored in the fridge the celery will last for two weeks. It will blanch white naturally.
Through the year
Water regularly and frequently – this is key to producing a good crop. Keep the plants weed-free, as weeds will compete for nutrients and moisture. Feed once with a liquid fertiliser around 4 weeks after planting out to help your celery along.
Ready to plant your own vegetables now you know how to grow celery? Take a look at our vegetable seed collection.