Can you Grow Celery in Containers?- Yes you can grow Celery in any pot or container. Celery is a shallow-rooted plant. These shallow roots are adaptable to small containers. This aromatic plant can easily sustain in 6 or 8-inch pots. Although growing celery and maintaining it especially in containers can be a tricky job. Don’t worry it’s not that difficult, we will discuss the details so keep reading.
Celery is a very old plant species. It is popular worldwide for its crunchy stalks and aromatic leaves. It is a must-have vegetable in every kitchen and backyard garden. The Botanical Name of Celery is ” Apium graveolens”. It belongs to the Apiaceae family. The entire celery plant is edible. Although specific varieties are grown for their juicy stalks and fragrant sweet leaves. Some celery varieties are specially grown for their aromatic spicy seeds.
Altogether celery is an essential part of our kitchen. It has many culinary and medicinal uses. Maybe you don’t have an open garden space. Still, You can grow celery in containers. Keep reading and prepare a container garden for celery.
Check out my previous post: How to Grow White Radish From seeds in Containers?
Does Celery Do well in Pots?
Celery is an excellent vegetable to grow in Pots. It has a shallow root system that helps to adapt to low soil conditions. Shallow roots feed on the top layer of the soil. They don’t dig deep in search of water and nutrition.
Celery is a native plant to wet low lands. Its origin gives the plant characteristics like shallow fibrous roots especially to survive in moist soil. These characteristics also help the plant to do well in pots and containers.
Can You Grow Celery in Bucket?
Yes, we can grow Celery in all kinds of buckets. It prefers a 3 or 5-gallon bucket to grow. Although you can choose a small 2-gallon bucket to grow a single plant or a big 10-15 gallon bucket for multiple celery plants.
Only make sure these buckets have a few holes at their bottom. These holes are essential for drainage. If there is no hole then make some using screwdriver or soldering iron, or anything sharp.
Which Container or Pot is best to grow Celery?
Flat Wide containers are best for Celery. The celery plant can do well in flat and wide containers compared to a narrow deep one. Celery roots can grow well in 6 to 8 inch deep containers.
It doesn’t mean that deep planters or buckets are not good for celery. They are good and probably easier to obtain.
A flat, shallow container like a bulb tray is sufficient to accommodate a celery plant. The best part is you won’t need as much soil as required for big containers. This makes the container light and movable which is necessary for celery plants.
Isn’t it convenient- Indeed. But what happens if you don’t have a bulb tray or similar container. Does it mean you can’t grow Celery? No, you can grow celery and you can use any container.
The quality of yield may differ from the optimum result yet you can grow celery in any container. You should use general-purpose plastic planters bigger than 6 inches for celery plants. Most probably you have those in your home. If not then buy some.
I use 15-inch plastic containers to grow Celery. It helps me to grow 3 to 5 good size celery plants together. You should plant only 1 or two stalk celery in 10 or 12-inch containers.
Altogether you must use terracotta, plastic, or steel container bigger than 8 inches in size for celery plants.
How Long does Celery need to grow in Containers?
Celery is a slow-growing plant. It will need a minimum of 100 to 140 days to mature in a container. Sometimes it may take even longer to grow in a container.
Seed germination is the most time taking procedure of celery plant growth. Celery seeds can take 3 to 5 weeks to germinate at an ideal temperature and soil conditions.
Once the seed germinates the baby celery seedling grows and matures slowly within the next 2-3 months.
Although you can harvest the leaves and stalks before the plant matures. The mature celery plant will start blooming and becomes fibrous. The leaves and stalk will lose their fragrance and sweet taste once the celery plant blooms.
Soil Preparation for Growing Celery in Containers
Prepare a soft light, healthy soil for celery plants. The soil should have good drainage. Celery plants prefer neutral to slightly acidic soil with 6.0 to 7.0 ph. If the soil is too acidic then amend it with lime and wood ash. You can add organic compost and manure to make the soil acidic.
I always prefer commercial potting soil for celery plants as they don’t like regular garden soil. If you don’t want to buy potting soil then prepare some. Use 20% regular garden soil with 40% compost and 30% cocopeat. The rest 10% of the soil mix should have fine river sand. It will help in proper drainage. This DIY soil mix works as well as any commercial potting mix, so you can use it to grow celery in containers.
Water Requirements for Container Grown Celery
Celery Plants need continuous moist soil. They don’t like to stay in dry rough soil. Therefore, water these plants regularly, if possible daily. Celery plants in containers may need watering twice every day during the hot summer season.
The shallow root system will not dig deep to reach moist soil. It will absorb moisture from the top 6 inches of the soil surface. If the soil dries too quickly then the celery plant can bolt. It may form a premature flower stalk to finish its purpose of reproduction before dying.
Therefore, never let the soil dry for too long else the celery plant may die. You can amend the soil with compost, cocopeat, or perlite to increase water retention. If it stays soggy then also the risk of root rot is high. So add a sufficient amount of sand to balance the moisture in the soil.
The bottom drainage hole in the container also plays important role in balancing water levels in the soil. Keep these holes clean and unclogged to prevent fungal growth in damp soil.
Celery plants in the container need a precise amount of water throughout their lifecycle. They require moist but not soggy soil to thrive.
Sunlight and Temperature Requirements
The Ideal Temperature for a Celery Plant is 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 11 to 21 degrees Celcius.
A celery seed needs 10 to 15-degree celsius or 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate. It will take almost 3 weeks to germinate at this temperature. A temperature lower than this will not help in seed germination.
The celery plant requires a temperature of more than 15 degrees Celcius or 55 degrees Fahrenheit to grow. It can tolerate a maximum of 21 degrees celsius or 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant may bolt at a temperature higher than this range.
Sunlight is also very essential for the celery plant. It will require 6 to 7 hours of direct sunlight every day. Although Morning and Evening sunlight is good for the plants. Overhead daylight can burn the leaves, especially during the peak summer season. You can shift the container in the part shade during daytime or put them under a green net.
Low lighting is not harmful to the plant instead it attracts pests toward the celery plants. These pests can become a problem in shady areas.
Difference Between Container Grown Celery and Garden Celery
Strange but true, you may find a visible difference in celery plants grown in containers vs those grown in garden beds. The first thing to notice is the growth rate. I have seen a major difference in celery plants growing in two locations of my garden. This is also the same for the celery grown in the containers.
Garden-grown celery is usually thicker and stronger from the outside. They look big and juicy as compared to the container-grown plants. Though the plants grown in containers have a dense root system. It is really hard to say why this happens. Maybe the lack of space triggers root growth in containers better than in the garden.
Even the taste may vary. Although the fertilizer and soil structure mostly decide the taste. There is a fair chance that your container-grown celery will vary from a farm or garden-grown plant. It will differ in taste, size, and growth rate.
Sometimes celery plants grow faster in containers than garden beds. This may happen due to the plant’s tendency to bloom asap in containers. Their final goal is to reproduce and they want to do it without wasting time- I think soo.
Choosing Best Celery Variety for Container Gardening
Every Celery variety is grown for their specific utilities. Some of them have thick juicy stalks while others may have dense fragrant leaves. Other varieties of celery are grown for their spicy seeds.
Almost every celery variety is good to grow in containers. I like to grow the juicy stalk celery varieties. They are perfect for salad dressing, sandwiched or burgers. The crunchy juicy texture and aromatic sweet flavor are my favorite.
Popular Celery Varieties to Grow in Containers
- Dulce is popular stalk celery. You can easily grow these in containers. They grow big and juicy. You may these just to show gardening skills to your neighbors.
- If you need the fragrant leaves. Then grow Pascal celery. This is a yellow-green leaf celery variety easy to grow in containers. This variety can grow all over from Zone 2 through 10.
- Green stalks celery is another popular juicy variety to grow in containers. They are ideal for salad dressing and bread sandwiches. You can consume this celery both raw and cooked.
- Celeriac is root-type celery. It matures in 100 to 120 days. It is popular for its sweet tender roots and stalks. This variety is ideal for USDA zone 8 and 9.
- Leaf celery is grown for its fragrant leaves. It can grow comfortably in USDA zone 5 through 8. Par Cel and Safir are two popular leaf celery varieties. They have a thin stalk structure than others.
- If you like short juicy stalk then grow Golden boy celery. Otherwise grow Tall Utah celery.
- In colder zone especially with shorter spring or summer seasons, grow Conquistador celery variety. It has a relatively short maturing period. Monterey is another short maturing stalk celery variety ideal for container gardeners.
How to Grow Celery in Containers?
You can grow Celery directly from seed or the seedlings. I prefer seedlings as seeds will take another 20-30 days to germinate. You should buy celery seeds from a trusted seller or any local garden store. Celery seedlings are also easily available in local nurseries. They are the best option to save time and effort in container gardening.
Don’t worry it is alright if you want to germinate your seedlings from celery seeds. They are cheap and a bit more affordable if you have enough time for the procedures.
Germinate Celery Seeds
- Buy celery seeds from the Garden store or online at Amazon. Also, get a seedling tray for the best result. Individual seed cups or plastic 3-inch pots are good fr this purpose.
- Start celery seed germination 6 to 10 weeks before the last frost. The germination till transplantation can take 55 days or more. So have patience and prepare accordingly.
- Soak celery seeds overnight in plain water. It will take 12 to 18 hours to soak depending on temperature. Soaking is essential to start seed germination. It will soften the hard seed shell and help the root to break through it.
- Fill the seedling tray with seed germination mix or any commercial potting mix.
- Put 2 soaked celery seeds in each cell of the seedling tray. It is important to ensure successful germination in each cell.
- Cover the seeds lightly with the same soil mix and moisten the soil thoroughly.
- Keep the seedling tray at a warm indoor spot where the temperature remains above 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 degrees celsius.
- The celery seeds will start germinating within 3 weeks and the seedlings will be ready to transplant in 50-55 days.
- Meanwhile, keep the soil moist and feed these seedlings regularly with all-purpose fertilizers like NPK 5:10:10 or NPK 10:10:10.
- Acclimatize the seedlings with sunlight for 4 to 8 days before the final transplant. Move these plants outside once the risk of frost is over.
Grow Celery in Containers
- Choose healthy well-grown seedlings to grow in containers. Undergrown celery seedlings may do well in the garden but they are not good for containers.
- Take 10 to 12 inches wide and at least an 8-inch deep container to grow celery. A shallow and wide container is ideal for celery plants.
- Fill 2/3rd of these containers with healthy potting soil and compost mixture.
- Place 1 or more seedlings depending on the size of the container on the soil. Keep a minimum of 4 or 5-inch distance between each celery seedling.
- Cover the roots of the celery seedling with the same soil mix. Tap it gently to settle the soil and pop off any air pocket.
- Moisten the soil thoroughly until water drips out of the drainage hole.
- Place the containers together in full sun. They require 6 hours of daylight.
- Feed these plants with Nitrogen and phosphorus-rich fertilizers for healthy stalk and leaf growth. If you are intending to get seeds then feed them with potassium-rich fertilizer. All-purpose fertilizers can help in the overall growth of the celery plant. Use these only once or twice in 20 days.
- Sometimes you may need to water twice a day especially to prevent sunburn in the celery plants. You can shift the containers in shade during noon to prevent any damage.
- Always keep the soil moist and healthy. The celery plants will be ready in 100 -140 days depending on their variety and growth conditions.
Common Problems with Celery growing in Containers
Bolting and root rot is common in celery plants. Other than these you may face some common garden pests like beetles, aphids, slugs, snails, caterpillars or stem borer insects.
All of these problems are interrelated. They either occur de to overwatering or too much heat and sunlight. You should be careful with watering as these plants require consistently moist soil but can get root rot in soggy soil. Sunlight is also very essential for celery plants but too much of it can cause premature blooming and bolting.
You should avoid overwatering and use a shade like green nets especially for summer celery varieties.
Pests problems can be controlled by regular use of neem oil and soap water. I don’t prefer using chemical fungicide or pesticide on the celery plants as it may reach your plate. These chemicals are harmful to you and your family. You can use organic pesticides like azadirachtin an active ingredient in Neem oil to deter bugs. Celery itself has natural insect repellent that keeps it safe from heavy pests attacks.
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