Introduction to Growing Celery In Containers:
Celery is a wetland vegetable, that have long talks tapered into leaves. The stalks, leaves, or hypocotyl is edible, depending the location you cultivate. Celery seed is also used as a spice and it is used as herbal medicine. Celery is grown in spring or fall, and it is a long-season vegetable. Growing celery in containers is easy when you provide a suitable environment. This article gives you complete information about growing celery in containers. Celery is native to the Mediterranean and it’s grown well in places where there with mild summer and mild winters.
Celery is a biennial plant, and it takes two years to complete its lifecycle. The leaves of Celery are pinnate and bipinnate, and its leaves rhombic of size 3 to 6 cm long and 2 to 3 cm width. The flowers of the plant will be in creamy-white color, diameter 2-3mm and with tightly packets umbels. The seeds of the celery plants are ovoid to globose, with 2 mm long and wide. The stalk of the celery plant is separated into strings, these strings are bundles of angular collenchyma cells.
Growing Celery is a bit challenging whether grown on the ground or in containers. This vegetable has long grown season, it takes up to 140 days. Celery plant has a very shallow root system, this makes it suitable for growing small containers. Since the plant has shallow roots, it can be grown even in a small container. When growing in container celery can be planted in the early spring or in the late summer in the areas with mild winters. Celery is usually propagated from seeds. Celery grown in containers may not have thick juicy stalks that you get in supermarkets.
- Scientific Name for Celery: Apium graveolens.
- Celery belongs the family of: Apiaceae.
- Common names of Celery: Celery, Chinese Celery.
Varieties of Celery for Growing Celery in Containers:
- Celery is not a new vegetable in the world, it’s grown from ancient days (850 BC). Celery is not only famous for the culinary use, it has many medicinal properties for which it is used in herbal medicines.
- The most common celery we know are Stalk Celery, most of us are familiar with stalk celery (Dulce). This variety is most popular in the United States.
- There are mainly three types of Celery, one is self-blanching or yellow leaf celery, green or pascal celery and celeriac.
- Green stalk celery is the most common celery. It is consumed both raw and cooked. Green Stalk has hallow and bitter stalks. All types of celery when grown in cooler temperature, will produce sweeter, solid stalks with pleasant flavor.
- Celeriacis a different type celery grown for its roots. And this variety is mostly used in USA. Celery is commonly grown for its succulent stalks or petioles, of celery grown for its root. Celeriac is grown for its sweet roots; these stalks are peeled and cooked or eaten raw.
- Celeriac takes 100-120 days to mature and is suitable for growing in USDA zones 8 and 9.
- Some varieties of celeriac are: Stalk celery or Pascal this celery thrives in cool regions, and in USDA, zones 2-10. Maturing period is between 105 and 130 days. These plants cannot resist the extreme temperatures the plants stop its growth. The suitable temperature of celeriac should be below 23°C and the night temperatures should range from 10-15°C.
Types of Celery Plants: below are some of the varieties of celery.
- Leaf celery Leaf celery (Apium graveolens var. secalinum): this variety of celery has a thin stalk and it produces sweet aromatic leaves and seeds. It is suitable in growing in USDA regions 5 to 8. Some varieties of leafy celery varieties are: Par Cel: it is an heirloom variety, Safir this celery has peppery flavored crispy leaves, Flora 55: these are disease resistant plants, and are free from bolting.
Some other common varieties of celery include:
- Golden Boy: this celery has short stalks. Tall Utah, this celery has long stalks. Conquistador it has short maturing period. Monterey, it is another celery variety which has a short maturity period that conquistador.
Suitable Climate for Growing Celery in Containers:
- Celery has a long growing season, it thrives well in cold temperatures.
- Spring is the ideal season to start celery from seeds.
- Ideal temperature for seed germination should be below 13°C.
- The Seedling should be kept cool and them soil should not be dried throughout the growing period.
- Seed germinations at the temperature 5°C with an optimum temperature 15° C to 21°C.
- Under the cool temperature it takes 2 to 3 weeks for the seeds to germinate.
- Start the transplants, after the last frost. For optimum growth of the plant the air temperature should range from 16°C to 21°C.
- The temperature above 25°C may slow down the growth of the plants. And leaf turns brown at high temperatures.
- Celery can withstand the light frost that occurs during the fall season. Moderate freezing temperature will spoil the growth of the plant.
Propagating Methods for Growing Celery in Containers:
Celery can be propagated from both seeds and transplants. Celery grows well using both the methods. An Ideal method to grow them in a container, is to propagate them from seeds.
Propagating Celery from seeds:
- Celery can be easily propagated from seeds; these seeds are dark and elongated tiny seeds. These seeds are available in all the nurseries, garden centers and horticulture units. Ideal time to sow the seeds is between the months of March and April. Soil temperature for seed germination should be around 15°C. Transplantation of celery plants may harm the delicate root system of the celery seedlings. Seeds can be sown indoors, in small containers or seed trays.
- Seed germination takes long time, you need to be very patient. Soak the seeds for 12 hours before sowing.
- The temperature shouldn’t fall below 10°C, temperature fall can cause bolting in seeds.
- Transplant them to desired container when reach 2 to 3 inches height.
Propagating Celery from Transplants:
- For growing celery from transplants from seed tray to large containers, or from nursery plants, they should of 5 inches height. If purchasing from nursery select the suitable variety. Consult the nursery person with the growing requirements.
- Transplant them very carefully at the center without harming the young roots. Before moving the seedlings to outdoors, harden them for a couple of weeks. Place them outdoors during the day and move them to indoor during the night.
Suitable Containers for Growing Celery in Containers:
- Celery plants have a shallow root system, it grows well, even in small containers.
- The ideal size of the container should have 8-inch depth for growing celery.
- If growing more than one celery plants in a container, the size of the container, 8 inches depth, 10 inches diameter.
- The container made of plastic, terracotta, metal, clay, etc. are suitable for growing celery.
- It is not recommended to go for an unglazed clay container, as they will dry the soil out quickly.
- Plastic container is the best for growing celery, as they keep the soil moist for a long time.
- The container should have a good draining system. The container should have 2 to 3 draining holes.
- Cover the bottom of the container with a fine mesh or gravel, to avoid soil dripping.
Potting Soil for Growing Celery in Containers:
- Celery grows well in well-drained, fertile and slightly alkaline soil.
- The pH levels of the soil should be of range 6.0 to 6.5. Celery likes a soil pH of 6.0-6.5. In case of highly acidic soil, add limestone to reduce the acidity.
- Enrich the soil with organic compost or rotted manure, to improve nutrient levels in the soil and its capacity to retain moisture.
- Instead of gardening soil, use good quality commercial potting soil. Choose the potting mix rich in organic matter. Mix the potting soil with organic compost or natural compost.
- You can also mix the potting soil with all-purpose mild organic granular fertilizer in the ration (5-10-10).
Steps for Growing Celery in Containers:
Growing Celery in Containers from Seeds:
- For growing celery from seeds, seeds should be started indoors. Germination rate increases when sown indoors.
- If planning for a spring harvest, start seed 10 weeks before last frost date. For a fall harvest, sown them in summer.
- Buy good quality seeds from reputed vendor. Soak them in water overnight, this fastens the germination process.
- Fill the seed tray or small containers with seed start potting mix and sow the celery seeds.
- Don’t cover the seed with potting soil, just press them into the potting soil. And moisten the soil.
- Now cover the tray or container with plastic covers or paper towel to hold the moisture.
- Celery seeds take more than a week for germination. Once tiny seedlings appear, remove the plastic cover. Maintain the constant moisture levels, don’t dry out potting mix.
- Once the plant grows up to 2 to 3 inches tall, transplant them to desired containers filled with enriched potting soil.
- Before moving seedling to outdoor harden them for 2 weeks, so that it can resist the direct sunlight.
- Water them after planting and keep the soil moist throughout the growing season.
- Mulch the plants, when they grow up to 6 to 7 inches tall, this insulates the roots from temperature fluctuations and keep them cool.
Growing Celery from Transplants or Nursery Plants:
- Dig a 1/2-inch-deep hole at the center of the container and place the young plant in the hole. And potting soil around the root ball till 1 inch below the top of the container. Don’t allow the soil to cover the stalks of the celery plants.
- Don’t bury the roots too deep, air circulation and air penetration to the roots will fasten the growth of the celery.
- Mix a spoon of compost tea to water, and water the young plant. Compost tea will make the roots to get firm quickly.
- Water the plant regularly and don’t let the soil dry.
- Enrich the soil with compost once in a month till, this will supply the constant nutrient supply to the roots of the plants.
Watering Requirements for Growing Celery in Containers:
- Celery plants require more quantity of water, more watering intervals during the growing period will keep the stalks tender and sweet.
- Celery thrives well in the soil with constant moisture levels, so don’t allow the potting soil to dry.
- If the plant doesn’t get enough water, the stalks of the plants will become hard and bitter. They will lose their pleasant flavor.
- Water the plant once a day and increase water intervals during the warm and dry weather.
Sunlight and Temperature for Growing Celery in Containers:
- Celery required 6 to 7 hours of sunlight in a day for a healthy stalk and leaves.
- In peak summer, move the containers to shade in the afternoons.
- Celery thrives well in medium temperatures, and it cannot tolerate the temperature below 10 °C.
- Daytime temperatures should 15 to 20°C and night should be 10 to 15°C.
Ideal Location for Growing Celery in Containers:
- Place the container in any location where it can minimum 4 to 5 hours of direct sunlight and it should get fresh air.
- Balconies, backyards, front yards, window sills, terrace gardens are the best location for your celery containers.
Mulching for Growing Celery in Containers:
- Celery is a cool temperature vegetable, it grows well and tasty when the soil is kept cool constantly.
- Mulching is compulsory for celery plant, mulching keeps the potting soil cool and moist.
- Add mulch when the plants grow up to 6 inches.
- For Mulching, add 2 to 3 inches of dried leaves, straw, grass hay, or any other plant material on the surface of soil.
- Mulching also protects the plant from weeds.
Fertilizers for Growing Celery in Containers:
- Fertilize the plants for every 2 to 4 weeks.
- Celery are heavy feeder and need rich nutrient soil that should be fertilized regularly. For healthy and juicy stalks, feed the plant with nitrogen rich fertilizers for every 15 days throughout the growing season.
- You can use organic fertilizers like liquid fish emulsion or seaweed extract for every two weeks.
- Young plants or seedling need rich nutrients, Enrich the potting soil with natural or organic compost once in month till the third month of planting. Add use water diluted compost tea once in a week that keep the plant well feed.
- Adding compost or mulching to the surface of the potting soil around the plants will help to hold the moisture for longer periods.
- Sprinkle a tablespoon of 5-10-10 organic fertilizer in a shallow furrow two inches away from the plant and cover it with the potting soil, during the 2nd and3rd month of growth.
Pests and Diseases in Growing Celery in Containers:
- Common pests that can affect celery are Flea beetles, slugs, earwigs, parsley worms or celery worms.
- To control these pests, just cover the plants with garden cloches for first four to six weeks of the growing season.
- In case of celery worms, these are green caterpillar with yellow and black bands, just handpick them with regular checking.
- Major disease that can affect the celery plants is a celery leaf spot, you can observe brown spots of leaves. Use organic fungicide to control this disease.
Harvesting and Storage Tips for Growing Celery in Containers:
- The main parts of celery that are consumed are its stalks. So, harvest the stalks that are above the ground.
- Maturing period of celery is about 80 to 100 days.
- Harvest the stalks when they reach up to 8 inches tall. Use sharp knife to harvest the celery stalks.
- You can pick the stalks whenever you want. Young celery stalks have a greater taste than the mature stalks.
- Harvest stalks from the outside in. You may begin harvesting when stalks are about 8 inches tall.
- The dark stalks of the celery have more nutrients compared to light colored ones. The Texture stalks changes with color; dark green stalks have tough texture.
- Storing: After maturing, the celery can stay fresh when they kept in the container at an optimum temperature around (16 to 18°C).
- Celery can be stored in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator.
- Celery can be kept fresh for more than a week.
Read: GROWING ASPARAGUS IN POTS.