Apium graveolens var. dulce
Common Name: celery
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Apiaceae
Native Range: Europe
Zone: 3 to 6
Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Green to white (2nd year)
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Herb, Vegetable, Naturalize

Culture

Celery is a cool-weather vegetable that dislikes the heat and humidity of a typical St. Louis summer. Best growing season temperatures fall within the range of 60-75 degrees F. It tends to bolt if exposed to temperatures of 55 degrees F. or less for continuous periods of 1-2 weeks (cover plants at night if this problem occurs). This plant is difficult to grow well. It requires a moist, rich, well-drained soil in full sun with regular fertilization and consistent watering. Mulch helps soils retain moisture while discouraging weed growth. Start seed indoors about 10 weeks prior to last spring frost date. Starter plants should be set out in the garden about 12-15" apart after last spring frost date. Celery generally requires a rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Stalks are ready to harvest after 3-4 months. If blanching is to be done, the celery bed should be sited in a location where covering to eliminate light can be easily done. For blanching, build a frame over the bed in fall and cover with paper that totally blocks light.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Apium graveolens is a biennial to perennial herb that is reportedly native to temperate Mediterranean climates in Europe, Asia and Africa. Wild plants typically grow to 24-36" tall and to 12-18" wide with aromatic pinnately divided leaves. In biennial form, the plant forms a basal rosette of leaves in the first year followed in the second year by a summer bloom of off-white flowers in umbels. Plants may naturalize in the landscape through self-seeding. Apium graveolens is the progenitor of two different vegetable crops: (1) Celery (Apium graveolens var. dulce) which is grown for its edible crisp leaf stalks and leaves and (2) Celery root or Celeriac (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum) which is grown for its edible, enlarged, turnip-like roots.

Var. dulce (celery) is grown as an annual in the garden for production of its crisp edible leaf stalks. It typically rises to 30" tall. Harvest may begin when the outer stalks reach 6-8" tall (heart of plant continues to grow). All stalks should be harvested prior to the first significant fall frost. Plants may escape gardens and naturalize (revert from var. dulce) in various parts of the U. S., particularly in the southwestern States. Celery is considered to be an invasive spreader in some areas.

Genus name from Latin means bee (bees are reportedly attracted to the white flowers of the plant).

Problems

Aphids, earwigs, nematodes, celery worms and slugs. Root rot may develop in overly wet soils. Early blight and late blight can cause significant problem in some areas.

Garden Uses

Vegetable.