My Celery Is Blooming: Is Celery Still Good After Bolting?
I have been growing celery since I was little. When I was about 10 years old, my father gave me some seedlings from our garden and told me to keep them alive until springtime when they would bloom. He didn’t say much else other than that.
In the past few years, I’ve had several friends ask me if I could tell them what to do with their own seedlings. They were all excited to hear that they would soon see their plants grow into beautiful flowers. Some even wanted me to give them advice on which varieties to choose for their gardens.
While it’s true that I am a professional gardener, and have been for over 20 years now, there are times when I just don’t feel like gardening anymore. For example, I used to love planting tomatoes and peppers because they grew so quickly. Nowadays, I’m not sure if I’ll ever get around to trying those kinds of crops again.
But then there are times when I really want to start a new crop or vegetable patch. So naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is celery!
Celery is one of my favorite vegetables. It’s incredibly easy to grow, even if you don’t have a green thumb. And it’s so versatile.
You can chop it up and add it to tuna or chicken salad, or even put a stalk in a cup of chicken broth to make a delicious low-calorie snack. When I was little, my mom always kept a fresh stalk in the fridge for adding to our meals.
But what I love celery as much as anything is for its intriguing flowers. Unlike many plants, the gorgeous umbels on a celery stalk do not immediately reveal whether or not the plant is male or female. Rather, this information doesn’t show up until the plant is mature enough to produce pollen.
So while your plants are still in the seedling stage, you won’t know if you have a future crop of celery growing in your garden. That’s part of the fun of it all, though!
First of all, you need celery seeds. You can typically find these at your local gardening store or even online. While it’s true that celery does reproduce easily from its roots, I’ve found that celery seeds produce much higher-quality crops with larger stalks and less bitterness in the leaves.
In addition, most of the plants you can buy at garden centers are already quite large and will be more difficult to transplant. With celery seeds, you can choose exactly when to plant them.
It’s best to use an organic fertilizer or compost in your celery patch, as the plant has a tendency to absorb heavy metals from the soil and store them in its tissues. While this isn’t a problem while the plant is growing, it can be dangerous to humans and animals once it’s harvested and consumed.
The amount of celery you’ll need for a family dinner typically falls within the range of 12 to 16 inches. Some people like to grow extra so they can enjoy the flowers separately from the vegetable.
Celery seeds need a lot of water, so make sure you keep your soil consistently moist at all times. You may even need to water it twice a day if the weather is particularly sunny or windy that day.
Once your celery plants begin to flower, whether that’s after 2 weeks or 2 months, you can start to harvest them. Be sure to leave at least 3-4 inches of stalk so the plant can continue developing. You should be able to get two or three harvests from a single seedling before it starts to go to seed and the quality of its stalks declines.
And there you have it!
Wasn’t that easy?
If you want to keep your celery seedlings inside, a sunny window sill usually does the trick. But if you’d like to grow them outside, you have a couple of options. Celery grows very well in large pots.
It can also survive in smaller containers if you live in a dorm or have an apartment with limited space. Just be sure to regularly water the plant every day so the soil doesn’t dry out.
If you have a gardening friend, you can also opt to split the celery seeds with them so you each have your own plant. Just be sure to keep the soil evenly moist as described above.
Ensure your celery is well-drained and keep the soil consistently moist. While you won’t need to water it quite as often as lettuce or other salad greens, celery still fares better in moist soil rather than dry.
You can grow celery in the ground or in containers. The ground will require more cleaning in the fall when you’re prepping your garden for winter, but gives your celery a chance to spread its roots further and grow more naturally. Containers are smaller and easier to move around, but celery doesn’t like to be root-bound, so you will need to re-pot it every 2 or 3 months.
Celery is a very hardy crop. As long as you’re not planting it too late in the year, it should be fine even in less-than-ideal conditions. It’s not susceptible to many insects and doesn’t require much water, so your biggest concern is making sure the soil doesn’t dry out.
If you have a vegetable garden, celery makes a great addition due to its robust nature.
Sources & references used in this article:
Celery and Celeriac: A Critical View on Present and Future Breeding by S Bruznican, H De Clercq, T Eeckhaut… – Frontiers in Plant …, 2020 – frontiersin.org
De novo transcriptome analysis in radish (Raphanus sativus L.) and identification of critical genes involved in bolting and flowering by S Nie, C Li, L Xu, Y Wang, D Huang… – BMC …, 2016 – bmcgenomics.biomedcentral.com
… the underlying mechanisms and the role that pre-harvest horticultural maturity, agronomic factors and growing conditions have on postharvest discolouration in celery by S Rossi – 2017 – dspace.lib.cranfield.ac.uk