Growing Guide
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Vegetable (Cool Season) - Parsley Family

Apium graveolens var. dulce
Umbelliferae Family

Perhaps the most difficult vegetable to grow in many areas, this long-season crop must be started inside. Seeds are slow to germinate, and if transplanted outside too early, plants will bolt in response to cold. Also requires consistent moisture and dislikes heat.

Site Characteristics
  • full sun
  • part shade
Prefers full sun.

Soil conditions:

  • tolerates damp soil
  • requires high fertility
Prefers rich soil, high in organic matter with pH 6.0 to 7.0 and consistent, plentiful supply of moisture. Can tolerate soils that are less than well-drained because it was originally a wetland plant.
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual

Biennial grown as an annual.

Ease-of-care: difficult

Seeds need to be started inside and are difficult to germinate. Cold weather after transplanting can cause bolting. Needs plentiful moisture and long season, but doesn’t tolerate heat well.

Foliage color: medium green

Foliage texture: medium


  • cushion, mound or clump
  • upright
Special Considerations
  • frost - Will tolerate light frost but can be damaged by a moderate frost.
Special characteristics:
  • not native to North America - Mediterranean origin.
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed

Germination temperature: 70 F to 75 F - Optimum when starting indoors.

Days to emergence: 14 to 21

Seed can be saved 5 years.

Maintenance and care:
Start plants inside about 10 to 12 weeks before last frost. Plant several seeds per cell. Seeds need light to germinate, so don’t cover seed deeply. Keep soil moist and warm (about 70 F to 75 F) until seeds germinate in 2 to 3 weeks. After germination, grow inside in a cool location (about 60 F to 70 F). Thin to one seed per cell.

Plants will withstand light frost, but 10 days with night temperatures below 40 and days below 55 F can cause bolting. So harden plants by reducing water, not lowering temperature.

Set out transplants 6 to 12 inches apart, rows 18 to 36 inches apart, about 2 weeks before average last frost.

Plants are shallow-rooted and require consistent moisture. Lack of water will make stalks fibrous and bitter. Mulch to retain moisture, suppress weeds and avoid disturbing roots when cultivating.

For a milder flavor, blanch by wrapping stalks two weeks before harvest with paper, a cardboard milk carton or other material.

Tarnished plant bug
Cabbage loopers

Use floating row covers early in the season, and collars if cutworms are present.

Leaf blights
Celery mosaic
Black heart - calcium deficiency, add lime

Celery diseases are rarely a problem in home gardens.

Browse celery varieties at our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.

Look for different days to maturity, bolt-resistance, and color - green, red or yellow “self-blanching” types.

Celeriac or root celery is a different variety of the same species grown for its root. (See Celeriac Growing Guide.)