Where Does Celery Grow?
Celery – in the form of leaf, stalk and root celery – is grown throughout the world. It prefers temperate climates and cool growing conditions. Celery may also be grown as a winter crop in the desert.
Celery was originally a swamp plant and probably native to salt marshes in Europe and the Mediterranean. It seems to have first been cultivated in the Mediterranean, but primarily for medicinal purposes rather than food. The first recorded use of celery as food was in France, where it was used as a flavoring ingredient in the early 1600s.
Types of Celery
Celery comes in three forms as well as the wild form.
- Stalk or Pascal celery is the common type, with thick stalks that are used raw or in soups and stews.
- Leaf celery has thinner stalks. In Asia, it is used in a variety of dishes and the leaves are used as seasoning.
- Celeriac has a bulbous root which is roasted or used raw in salads.
Although many countries grow celery, the US remains the top producer, followed by Mexico. In Europe, celeriac or root celery is grown more frequently than stalk celery. In the Orient, Chinese or leaf celery is more commonly grown than either of the other forms. Many countries also grow celery for its seeds, which are used as a flavoring agent.
Celery in the US
California and Michigan produce most of the celery grown in the US. The vastly different growing conditions mean that the California crop is typically grown in early spring or late fall. Michigan, which has colder winters and cooler summers, produces celery during a period when the California climate is too hot for growing good celery.
Growing Celery in Home Gardens
Unless you live in Hawaii or Alaska, you should be able to grow celery in any state in the US. The key is to understand its growing requirements and your local season. In warm season climates, start celery inside and early; harvest before summer really gets going. In colder climates with a gradually warming spring, you may be able to direct seed celery. In the desert, you’ll do best growing celery as a winter crop.
Celery’s Preferred Growing Conditions
No matter what your climate, you must meet celery’s demands for soil, nutrients and water. Celery prefers a rich soil that is moisture-retentive but also drains well. Enrich your soil with well-rotted manure, compost or leaf mold, and add organic 5-10-10 fertilizer. Never let the soil dry out. Grow in full sun but don’t try to grow celery in the heat of summer.