Growing Celery In Containers – The Ultimate Celery Garden Guide!

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Here’s why I love growing celery in containers! You may have heard that celery is notoriously tricky to grow. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has struggled to germinate celery seeds and transplant them into my spring garden.

Luckily, growing celery in containers or pots is much easier! It may well be the solution, guaranteeing an abundant harvest of fresh homegrown celery year after year.

Organic celery plant with lush green leaves growing in a pot.

Do you agree that growing celery in the garden is difficult? Or maybe you want to try growing celery in containers since growing in the garden is too much fuss?

Then let’s find out more!

What Is the Best Way to Grow Celery?

Hands up if you’ve tried to grow celery but ended up with short, tough stalks and an abundance of leaves. Yep – celery is a fussy customer, and it takes time to perfect the technique!

celery growing in a pot adjacent to triangular lettuce bed and mint plant
All homesteaders should know how to grow celery in containers and pots! Our celery plants usually start as indoor celery in containers. (Even if when we intend on cultivating outdoor celery.) There’s a reason for our madness! Celery seeds are famously tricky to germinate. And once the seeds sprout, celery requires nurturing for up to three months before transplanting in your garden. That’s a ton of prep work – much more than other veggies!

Why Is Celery So Hard to Grow?

The problem is that celery has a long, slow-growing season. And it dislikes cold temperatures and hot weather. It needs around four months of warm weather, at temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, yet without any risk of frost.

Yes, this plant is the Goldilocks of the vegetable world!

But, get the conditions just right, and you’ll get rewarded with crisp, crunchy, fresh celery that is worlds apart from grocery store celery.

How Long Does It Take for Celery to Grow?

Growing celery requires patience! It needs a minimum of 16 weeks from sowing to harvest in the right conditions. It is considered a cool-season crop, grown in spring or fall to avoid the hot summer months.

Does Celery Like Sun Or Shade?

With celery, getting the right temperature is more important than considering whether to plant it in the sun or shade. Here in Portugal, our summer months are long and hot, so we grow our celery in partial shade to keep it cooler.

On the flip side, if you have a long, chilly spring season, consider planting celery in direct sunlight to maximize the heat it receives.

How Do You Grow Celery In a Pot?

Growing celery in a pot is the perfect way to overcome the obstacles many homesteaders face when cultivating this fussy plant! You can move your potted celery plants as and when required to ensure they are in the optimum growing conditions.

Depending on your location and climate, there are many ways to use this technique to your advantage.

For example, if you live in a warm climate with a short winter, you can plant celery seedlings in pots inside a greenhouse or polytunnel.

When the warm weather arrives, and the risk of frost has passed? Then all you need to do is move the pots outside until the celery stalks are ready to harvest. And when the scorching heat of summer arrives, the plants can move to a shady area to keep them cropping for longer.

In cooler climates, celery grown in pots can stay in a frost-free area until late spring, when the soil temperature increases. Rotating your potted crops is a great way to extend your growing season, maximizing the chances of a delicious crop of crisp celery stalks.

(You can also tuck some of your more sun-sensitive crops out of the hot summer sun if they appear to be getting hammered.)

young celery sprouts growing neatly in containers
Growing celery indoors in containers has a few advantages. The most critical benefit is climate control. Remember that celery demands moderately chilly temperatures of 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. And the temperature can’t get too cold, or the celery plant will flower! We’ve read from several trustworthy sources that temperatures dropping below 55 degrees Fahrenheit result in celery flowering or bolting. (Celery also hates hot temperatures exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Celery is tricky. And picky!) That’s why we say it may be easier to cultivate celery in containers indoors – where you can control the temperature.

How Big Of a Pot Does Celery Need to Grow?

The pot size is the only thing celery won’t give you much of a bother over! The root system of celery seedlings is very delicate and must get handled with care, but as the plant grows, it does not require much room thanks to its shallow root system.

To grow celery in pots, you will need a pot with room for about 8 inches of soil. An 8-inch in diameter pot will be wide enough to support one plant; if you have larger containers, you can fit two or three plants in each container.

The most vital factor when choosing the right pot for growing celery is to check how well it drains. Celery likes plenty of water but hates waterlogged soil. It may be necessary to carefully make extra drainage holes in the bottom of your containers.

Also, consider using grow bags for growing celery – the fabric sides of these bags increase the aeration and drainage of the soil, plus the handles make them easy to move outside once all risk of frost has passed.

How Often Do You Water Celery In a Pot?

Regarding watering, celery prefers little and often. Celery plants need plenty of water to grow but do not like sitting in soggy soil. Water them every day or two to keep the soil moist, if you can.

This level of irrigation can be surprisingly time-consuming, so I tend to put my fussy celery plants on a drip irrigation system. While I love watering my precious plants, I also appreciate the extra time I gain from using an irrigation system!

Growing Celery In Containers – A Step-By-Step Guide

Are you ready to transform the way you grow celery? If you’ve never managed to cultivate a successful celery crop, you’ll be amazed at how easy this technique is!

1. Germinate Healthy Celery Seeds

For the healthiest plants, start celery from seed rather than buying seedlings. Plant seeds around ¼ inch deep in a module tray, and keep the soil moist and warm until the seeds germinate.

2. Transplant Seedlings Into Containers

Transplant seedlings into containers when they are around 3 inches tall. Celery is a heavy feeder and prefers rich soil with plenty of organic matter. A good quality potting compost for vegetables is ideal.

3. Our Growing Hacks to Avoid Soggy Celery Roots

Celery is a thirsty plant but also hates having soggy roots (did we tell you that celery was fussy?!). I like to sit my vegetable pots in trays on capillary matting. Or if you’re feeling crafty, then a DIY wicking system is fun to set up. Another good solution is to incorporate water-retaining granules into your potting compost.

4. Help Your Growing Celery Plant Thrive

Now all you need to do is keep your young celery plants in the perfect conditions for them to thrive. In the depths of winter, inside a greenhouse or polytunnel is ideal, and they may even appreciate a layer of garden fleece in colder weather. As spring arrives, you can pop your pots outside during the day to gradually harden the plants off. Then move them outdoors permanently once all risk of frost has passed.

celery seedlings getting ready for the garden
Our homesteading mates think we’re crazy when we say gardeners should consider germinating celery seeds indoors around February or March. But it’s true! Celery seeds and baby celery seedlings are shockingly fussy and require a few weeks to germinate and at least two months to grow before they’re ready for outdoor transplanting. So if you intend on transplanting your potted celery outdoors in the spring during April, May, or early June, then February or March is perfect seed germination timing.

Can Celery Grow In Just Water?

You cannot grow celery plants from seed in just water, but regrowing the stump of a bunch of celery is a fun kitchen project. Plus, you get to harvest extra celery too. A welcome bonus!

When preparing celery in your kitchen, cut the stalks about 1 inch above the base rather than snapping them off. The celery stalks can safely store in the refrigerator until you need to use them. To keep them crisp, wrap them in a damp paper towel or plastic wrap.

Take the celery base and pop it into a small container with a half-inch of water. Top this up regularly – I tend to keep mine on my kitchen window sill. That way, I don’t forget about it.

Within a couple of days, you will notice the center of the celery base begins growing – isn’t nature astounding?!

Your celery base will not regrow into a full-sized bunch of celery stalks, but you will get some lovely tender stems to cut off and use. You may find an abundance of celery leaves when grown in this way. But celery leaves are no bad thing! Celery leaves can be used as a fresh green herb, adding a delicate celery flavor to soups and casseroles.

growing celery and parsley in pots
Dry weather and soil are your arch-enemies when growing celery in containers. Dry soil conditions can make your celery taste bitter. And even worse – it can make the celery texture stringy and tough to chew. It’s bad enough that celery can take up to five months to harvest from seed. It makes the endeavor even more arduous if the flavor isn’t good. So – don’t let your celery soil get too dry. And give your celery plant at least one inch of water per week!

Is It Better to Grow Celery In Water or Soil?

While you can regrow a celery stump in water, planting it in potting soil means it requires less watering and is more likely to thrive. Follow the steps above until the growth is one or two inches tall, then pop it into a small well-draining pot containing good-quality potting mix. Keep this plant in a warm, sunny place, keep it well-watered, and you’ll get rewarded with a free bonus crop of celery!

Read More!

How Do You Know When Celery Is Done Growing?

Are you worried that your celery looks nothing like celery bunches in your grocery store? Don’t panic – there is a surprisingly good reason for this! Most store-bought celery has been grown in intensive conditions and is blanched to encourage it to grow long, white, tightly-packed bunches of stems.

While it is possible to blanch homegrown celery like this, most of us prefer to let celery do its own thing. Leaving the celery alone will give you juicy stalks of celery with a potent flavor, absolutely delicious!

So, your celery plants will look much more like nature intended – a sprawling mass of vivid green stalks topped with an abundance of fluffy green leaves.

(Top tip – for a simple blanching method, cut the ends off a milk carton and pop it over the stalks of the plant for a few weeks before harvesting. Simple yet very effective!)

Celery will carry on growing in this way happily throughout its growing season, constantly producing new shoots from the inside of the plant. The outer celery stalks will get thicker and increasingly difficult as the season progresses.

If you wanted, you could cut off an entire plant of celery to harvest it, but this would be a tremendous waste! The best way to harvest celery is to pick off individual stalks from the outside of the plant, discarding any outer stalks that are too tough. The tender inner stalks are left to grow, giving you a continuous crop for many months.

Celery (Apium graveolens) is a lovely cold-season biennial veggie (of the Apicaceae family) that also grows beautiful white flowers. While the flowers look breathtaking, most American gardeners grow celery for the tasty stalks. Not for the flowers and seeds. Celery plants are also famously shallow-rooted, and as a result, they are heavy feeders and require frequent fertilizing. (Their tiny roots have a difficult time accessing nutrients!) They’re also thirsty and need around one or one and a half inches of water per week. Despite their shortcomings, your celery plants grow up to a few feet and perform well in confined places, making them excellent container garden candidates.


Thanks so much for reading our celery growing guide!

If you have more questions about how to cultivate celery or celery seed germination, feel free to reply!

We love celery gardening and discussing the many nuances with fellow gardening geeks.

Thanks again for reading.

And have a great day!

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