How to grow celeriac
All you need to know about growing celeriac, in our detailed Grow Guide.
Celeriac is closely related to celery but the edible part is it's swollen root. It has an unusual flavour, a cross between celery, fennel and aniseed. celeriac works well roasted and served with other root veg and squashes, in soups and stews. It also makes a great alternative to mashed potato.
Celeriac is easy to grow but it does require a long growing season. It grows well in heavy soils and does well in poor summers.
How to grow celeriac
Sow celeriac seed in spring, ideally in pots kept in a heated propagator. Plant out after all risk of frost has passed and water well. Keep plants well watered throughout the growing season and keep the soil around the plants weed free. Harvest the roots from October to March.
More on growing celeriac:
How to sow celeriac seeds
Celeriac seeds can be hard to germinate. You may get a better germination rate by sowing seeds early with a heated propagator. Alternatively sow seed in mid spring and keep them under cloches or in an unheated greenhouse.
Sow celeriac seed into shallow drills in trays and cover with a fine layer of compost. Water lightly. Transplant seedlings them into individual pots when they're large enough to handle and keep protected until all risk of frosts has passed – a cold snap can cause celeriac plants to bolt prematurely, which means they won’t form the delicious roots.
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Plant out the young plants in late spring, when they are 5-7cm tall. Space them 25-30cm apart in rows 30-45cm apart. Do not bury the crowns. Water well during dry periods or on lighter soils. To retain moisture it’s worth applying a bulky, organic mulch straight after planting, making sure it's kept clear of the swelling roots.
How to care for celeriac
Celeriac is a moisture-loving plant and requires a rich, moisture-retentive soil. Don't let the soil dry out. As the plants mature, remove the outer leaves to expose the crown of the root and allow it to develop.
Here, Monty describes how to look after celery and celeriac, and how to encourage large celeriac roots, ahead of harvesting:
Growing celeriac: problem solving
Celeriac is hardier and more disease resistant than celery. Young seedlings may be prone to slug attacks, so make sure they're protected.
Celery leaf miner or celery fly is the most common pest. These cause blisters on the leaves by tunnelling and can be dealt with by removing leaves and burning them. Protect plants by growing under a fine net.
How to harvest celeriac
Harvest celeriac roots from October to March – the longer they stay in the soil, the stronger the flavour. Use a fork to gently lift each root.
Monty Don grows both celery and its close relative celeriac in his veg garden at Longmeadow. By October, his celery is ready to harvest, but the celeriac needs another month or so. In this programme clip from Gardeners' World, Monty explains the conditions these plants need, and shows you how to help boost the size of your celeriac:
Cooking with celeriac
Peel and chop up the celeriac bulb and use it in soups and salads, or to flavour mashed and other potato dishes. The leaves have a much stronger flavour and can be used fresh in salads or dried to add celery-flavoured seasoning to many recipes.
Looking for inspiration on how to use your crop? Our friends at olive have curated a delicious collection of celeriac recipes, including a warming celeriac soup with chorizo oil.
You can leave the roots in the ground until you need them, including into autumn and winter.
Celeriac varieties to try
- Celeriac 'Prinz' – good flavour and less prone to bolting
- Celeriac 'Alabastor' – good flavour and less prone to bolting
- Celeriac 'Monarch' – RHS AGM, a smooth-skinned variety, which makes it easier to peel