How To Grow Celery From Seed

This will be my first year starting celery indoors. Last year I tried direct sowing some seeds, but they took so long to germinate, I was guilty of not keeping their bed moist during that time.

Because of this, I didn’t get a single stalk of celery in my garden. I’m hoping that if I start them from seed indoors, and baby them until they are big enough to transplant, I’ll have a better chance at harvesting my own homegrown celery this year.

three packets of celery seeds

I’m trying three different varieties to see which ones grow best here. I’m planting: Giant Pascal, Tendercrisp (heirloom), and Utah (heirloom).

Growing celery from seed is done basically the same way you grow most other plants from seed. Just keep in mind that celery should be started indoors up to 8 weeks before your last frost date.

seed starting trays next to bag of seed starting potting soil mix

First, fill your containers with seed starting mix. Remember, don’t use potting soil for starting seeds, the bag must specifically say seed starting mix.

Be sure whatever you use as a planting container has holes in the bottom for adequate drainage. Small yogurt cups with 3 nail sized holes in the bottom works well.

seed starting trays next to bag of seed starting potting soil mix

Wet the soil well, until it’s thoroughly moist.

A note about watering seedlings… if you are on city water, you may need to use filtered water to water your plants. The harsh chemicals in treated city water often prevent seedlings from growing (which ought to concern you about what those chemicals are doing to you… but I digress).

holding celery seeds in hand
holding celery seeds in hand

Celery seeds are very small. They germinate best if you plant them just below the surface of the soil, or even simply pressed into the surface of the soil and kept moist. If you plant them too deeply, the seeds will use up all of their energy trying to reach the surface of the soil, and will die before emerging.

Put the seed trays in a warm, out of the sun place, and keep them moist until the seedlings begin popping up. I like to put my trays on top of my fridge.

Like I said, celery has a longer germination period than other crops. It can take up to 21 days for seedlings to begin sprouting. Mine started coming up at 11 days after planting. I just kept them watered with a spray bottle, and watched every day for signs of life.

celery seedlings in tray
celery seedlings in tray

Once the seedlings begin to show, immediately put them under a grow light, or into a sunny south facing window. We use a shop light with regular halogen bulbs as a grow light.

Keep the light about 1-2 in. from the tops of the seedlings. If the light is too close, it will burn your plants.

And if it is too far away, your plants will stretch themselves to try to reach the light, and will become “leggy” (long and spindly, falling over) and weak.

Keep your plants moist by spritzing them with a water bottle every time you see the surface of the soil drying out. If the soil gets completely dry, your plants will not survive. However, if they stay sopping wet your plants will damp off and die.

Here are my seedlings at 19 days old:

19 days old celery seedlings in trays
my 19 days old celery seedlings

The Giant Pascal seeds have not had good success. The seeds were three years old though, so that’s probably the reason for such poor germination.

I’ll keep updating with more on how to keep your celery seedlings growing until transplanting time as my own seedlings grow.

Celery seedlings should be transplanted around your area’s last frost date. That’s mid-April for us (south-east coast region), so we have a few more weeks before setting these little guys out in the garden.

celery growing in containers
celery growing in containers

Do you have any special tips on growing celery from seed? Have you had luck growing your own? 

6 thoughts on “How To Grow Celery From Seed”

  1. I have tried to grow celery from greenhouse starts before and always ended up with some spindly looking plants that hardly grew much at all. Last year I grew my own celery from seed, starting them the beginning of March. I can’t even remember how many I started but most of them died. I ended up with 2 that looked very promising and 1 that looked okay. By the end of the season I had 2 amazing looking celery plants and 1 that was okay. The taste of the celery was unlike anything I’ve had before and now I am hooked. I’m hoping for an even better harvest this year! Even just for those 3 plants I got it was worth it.

  2. Thanks for the post – this was shared with my Homestead Lady readers and the Salt Lake County Seed Swap readers. We grew celery for the first time last year and, you’re right, you need to be dilligent while you wait for them to sprout. The flavor was great, though! We had some in full sun during what turned out to be a crazy hot summer and those turned bitter. We also had some in a bit of shade and those stalks remained a lovely green and had a yummy flavor. So, if you live where it gets really hot, you might want to consider growing a taller plant in front of your celery or providing a little shade cloth. Does that count as a handy tip? 🙂

  3. I have yet to get celery to grow. I’d tried indoor seeding a couple of years ago, but they didn’t transplant well. Last year I directly sowed, but we had an early warm-up and I couldn’t keep the beds moist enough for seedlings.

    This fall, though, I took the bottom of a celery bunch that came in my CSA box and planted it directly into the raised bed. A week later, sure enough, I saw fresh shoots coming up. I was SO excited… and then the squirrels got it. *sigh*

    Anyway, I wanted to stop by and say I’d love if you’d come join my How To Tuesday link party. 🙂


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