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Five Tips For Growing Celery

The first time I grew celery, I was surprised by how much flavor homegrown celery has. The added flavor, along with the convenience of harvesting a stalk or two as needed, means celery has earned a forever place in my cool-season garden. Learning how to grow celery is easier than you think. Learn how to grow celery with these 5 tips. See the end of the article for a bonus tip about how to grow celery in containers.

How to grow celery in Arizona

Disclaimer: this post on growing celery contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information.


5 Tips for How to Grow Celery


1. Choose your planting method for growing celery 

Plant celery from seed, transplants, or even the cut-off base of a grocery-store bunch. Here’s what I’ve learned about the different methods:

  • Starting seeds indoors gives you control over the variety and generally yields the largest plants and most consistent results. 
  • If you find transplants at your local nursery, it’s a great way to get a quick start.
  • A cut-off base is a simple way to grow celery and is fun for kids to try in the garden. 

Try all three methods for growing celery and see which one works best for you.  

Plant a cut-off celery base and new celery will sprout and grow
Plant a cut-off celery base, and new celery will sprout and grow.

Here’s a video tutorial that explains how to grow celery from a cut-off base.   

Start celery seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before your last frost date. Transplant celery seedlings (or cut-off celery bases) when the soil temperature is at least 50°F (10°C).

How to grow and use celery

Celery planting dates for the low desert of Arizona:

How to grow and use celery

Transplant seedlings (or cut-off celery bases) outside 8-10 inches apart at the same level as the nursery pot. For square foot gardening, plant 4 celery per square.

If planting from seed in the garden (not recommended because of the need for a long growing season), plant seeds 1/4 inch deep and thin to 8-10 inches apart when seedlings are about 6 inches tall.



2. Celery needs plenty of water & nutrients to grow

How to grow and use celery
Celery that does not receive enough water will be hollow, stringy, and bolt.

When growing celery, the soil must be consistently moist, not soggy. If celery dries out, it can be stringy, bitter, and bolt. Mulching the soil after planting helps keep celery from drying out. I use garden grids to water my garden with excellent results.

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Celery grows best in compost-rich soil that is high in organic matter.

Fertilize celery with a fish-emulsion solution once a month throughout the growing season. To do this, add fish emulsion to a container and fill it with water, following the dilution instructions on the label.

Fish emulsion is an excellent source of organic nutrients and nitrogen that will not burn plants. It is easily absorbed and quickly taken up by the roots of the plants.

You can also amend the soil around celery with compost. Feeding your celery allows it to thrive.  

Fish emulsion

3. Blanch celery before harvesting (if desired)

Blanching celery (even self-blanching types) helps eliminate the bitter taste and makes it sweeter and more tender. Unblanched stalks are darker green and tougher but contain more nutrients than the lighter-blanched varieties.

To blanch celery, about two weeks before harvesting, wrap or cover stalks with heavy paper, soil or mulch, juice or coffee cans, boards, or other items to keep out the light. Leaves should be exposed. 

How to blanch celery

4. Harvest celery as needed throughout the season

  • For the best flavor, water celery well the day before harvesting.
  • Harvest single stalks as needed from the outside of the plant when it reaches the desired height.
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Harvest celery until it begins to get hot. For me, in Arizona, that means late spring.

Celery doesn’t like hot temperatures, and as it heats up, it will become bitter. As summer nears, blanch the celery (if desired) and harvest the entire plant. To harvest the whole plant, cut it at soil level with a knife. 

If left in the ground, the celery may also bolt, meaning that the plant focuses on producing seeds. When it bolts, the central stalk of the celery becomes taller, flowers, and produces seeds.



5. Preserve harvested celery in several ways 

How to grow and use celery
Store harvested stalks of celery in water to keep them fresh

Homegrown celery has so much flavor and is worth preserving if you can’t use all the garden produces. 

  • Celery will keep in the fridge for several weeks if wrapped in foil or submerged in water in a sealed container. 
  • To freeze celery: Chop, then blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, and put blanched celery on a cookie sheet, and freeze. Once the celery is frozen, store it in freezer bags for up to a year. 
  • Dehydrate or freeze-dry celery. Grind into celery powder before using; it does not hydrate well. 
How to grow and use celery
Freeze drying celery
How to grow and use celery
Celery powder

How to make and use freeze dried celery

Learn more about how to make and use freeze-dried celery in this article.


Bonus Tip: How to grow celery in containers

Celery is a good choice for containers.

  • Choose a container for growing celery that holds at least 3 gallons of soil.
  • Be diligent about watering container-grown celery. Celery that does not get enough water has hollow stalks and is stringy.
  • Feed celery in containers with a half-strength application of liquid organic fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.
How to Grow Celery in Containers

If you enjoyed this post about how to grow celery, please share it:


Danette

Sunday 7th of April 2024

Would love to know the different ways you use your celery powder?

Angela Judd

Thursday 11th of April 2024

Generally in cooking soups, etc., sometimes in marinades. I need to use it more!

Mary Davenport

Sunday 1st of October 2023

Thanks so much!!! grew celery first time this explains why they were so bitter

Barlett Laura

Sunday 24th of September 2023

I started my Utah celery from seed indoors. They have 1 true leaf per sprout in each cell. Wondering when I need to up-pot or transplant. It’s been about a month. I keep the house around 77 on average. They are under a grow light. Do I need to bring them out to see real morning sunlight for a hour each day. When I up pot them can I put them out side to continue growing until they are big enough to transplant??

Angela Judd

Monday 25th of September 2023

Depends on how large the container is. Usually when roots start growing out of the bottom. I don't usually pot up celery. You can plant it anytime, usually once it has several sets of leaves. Hopefully it will start growing more soon.

Sandra

Saturday 16th of September 2023

Thanks. You answered the question I thought would be hard to find because I'm in the AZ desert. Just in time to start some celery!

Sandy J

Wednesday 26th of July 2023

I have a freeze dryer and I've found that if you put a tiny little bit of baking soda in the blanching water the celery stays green.

Angela Judd

Wednesday 26th of July 2023

Thanks for the tip!