Greetings, fellow gardeners! This is Andrew. I am back with another installment in my companion planting guide series. After decades of tending bountiful gardens across Wisconsin, I’m thrilled to share my tips for interplanting celery and its ideal allies.
As any home gardener knows, celery is a kitchen staple prized for its crunchy stalks and aromatic leaves. But this nutrient-hungry crop is also notoriously fickle, requiring rich soil, consistent moisture, and protection from pests.
The secret to keeping celery happy? Surround it with friends!
Let’s discover the perfect plant partners that maximize celery’s growth and flavor in your backyard.
- 1 An Introduction to Companion Planting
- 2 Celery’s Assets as a Companion Plant
- 3 Aromatic Herbs: Nature’s Built-in Pesticides
- 4 Vegetable Allies: Cooperative Communities Below & Above Ground
- 5 Pest Control with Curb Appeal: Flower Power Partners
- 6 Friends, Frenemies & Spatial Strategies
- 7 Promoting Peace in the Patch
- 8 Celery Companion Gardening Case Studies
An Introduction to Companion Planting
For novice gardeners, companion planting strategically intermingles complementary plant species. It’s based on the fact that in nature, plant communities with diverse roots, growth habits, and nutrient needs often thrive together by occupying separate niches.
By mimicking these natural plant associations, companion planting allows us to:
- Deter crop-damaging insect pests
- Attract beneficial pollinators
- Enhance flavor and yield
- Improve soil health
- Maximize garden space
The science behind centuries-old interplanting folk wisdom is now validated through modern research. Let’s explore some of celery’s top allies!
Celery’s Assets as a Companion Plant
Before diving into pairing options, let’s overview what makes celery a valuable companion for other garden staples.
This versatile biennial:
- Repels carrot flies, slugs, snails, and notoriously voracious aphids
- Accumulates soil nutrients like nitrogen and calcium
- Provides shade and moisture retention for low-growing herbs
- It can be trellised vertically to save space
When thoughtfully integrated with the needs of other crops, celery forms the foundation of a thriving garden ecosystem that bolsters overall health and productivity.
Now, let’s uncover celery’s top partnership pairings!
Aromatic Herbs: Nature’s Built-in Pesticides
The Protective Umbrella of Aromatic Herbs
Potent herbs like dill, rosemary, and mint contain powerful aromatic compounds that naturally repel insects seeking your celery. Interplanting these along celery rows establishes a “barrier hedge” driving away hungry pests.
In addition to pest control, many culinary herbs enhance celery’s crisp flavor when grown alongside.
Here are my top aromatic herbal allies:
Dill: Nature’s Pest Patrol Force
Dill heads my list of essential celery companions. It attracts a cavalry of beneficial insects that prey on troublesome garden pests, including:
- Parasitic wasps
- Tachinid flies
In addition, dill’s ferny foliage provides optimal filtered sunlight and afternoon shade desired for celery growth.
I sow dill regularly to ensure a continuous harvest, replacing mature plants with young seedlings that take over pest patrol duties.
Borage: The Hairy Hero
With its edible starry blue flowers and “hairy” leaves, borage is a superhero celery companion.
This rugged herb repels tomato hornworms, cabbage worms, and notorious aphids. Borage also attracts bees while accumulating minerals that benefit nearby celery.
I scatter borage throughout my celery patch. The sight of helpful honeybees flocking to its pretty flowers always brightens my day!
Chives: The Underground Fighters
Don’t overlook chives as an excellent celery companion. Like their cousin onions, chives release sulfur compounds that drive away carrot flies, slugs, and aphids above and below ground.
As heavy nitrogen feeders, celery and chives are grown together to form cooperative root systems that efficiently accumulate soil nutrients and moisture.
I interplant chives along celery rows for mutual pest protection and improved mineral uptake.
Vegetable Allies: Cooperative Communities Below & Above Ground
Friends with Complementary Needs
Selecting vegetable companion plants with growth habits and needs complementary to celery avoids competition.
Interspersing compatible crops creates cooperative “plant guilds” where root systems don’t compete for nutrients. Foliage fills separate canopy levels, and ripening times allow successive planting.
Here are some all-star celery-boosting vegetable companions:
Bush Beans: The Nitrogen Factories
As nitrogen-fixing legumes, bush beans fertilize themselves and surrounding plants mid-summer when celery needs it most.
In return, celery provides essential structural support and shade for bush beans’ shallow roots as heat intensifies. Celery flowers also attract pollinators, which increases bean production.
I sow bush bean seeds directly around celery transplants, using mature celery stems later in the season for trellising.
Lettuce & Spinach: The Living Mulch & Spring Soil Restorers
Thanks to ample moisture and nutrients from celery’s vigorous roots, fast-growing lettuce and spinach thrive along celery rows.
As these excellent weather greens are cleared in early summer, celery’s established canopy protects the bare soil from weeds and erosion. I add the cleared greens to my compost pile, returning nutrients to the ground.
The result? Extended celery harvests plus enriched, weed-free planting beds for fall crops!
Pest Control with Curb Appeal: Flower Power Partners
The Show-Stopping Insectary Plants
While flowers primarily enhance aesthetics, many also boost beneficial insects while deterring underground pests:
Cosmos: The Soil Superheroes
With ferny foliage and colorful blooms, cosmos enhances garden beauty while protecting celery roots.
Celery’s extensive root secretions suppress nematodes and other soil-dwelling insects that damage it. The plant’s prolific flowers attract ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps.
I choose cosmos species with the most robust root secretions and flower production for peak pest protection. White Sensation, Rubenza, and Bright Lights are excellent celery companions.
Marigolds: The Bodyguard Beauties
Another classic ornamental partner, marigolds overlaying celery roots, create an impenetrable barrier against nematodes and other underground pests.
I select pungent, prolific varieties like Sweet Cream and Sparky for maximum protective strength. If old blooms are promptly removed, they flower continuously.
Marigolds are beloved celery companions because their cheery color beautifies any garden bed in addition to their protective effects below ground.
Now that we’ve covered celery’s ideal plant allies let’s explore “frenemy” plants to avoid and consider design considerations.
Friends, Frenemies & Spatial Strategies
Creating an optimal celery companion garden requires understanding “good neighbor” plant relationships and strategic placement considerations.
Friends vs Frenemies: Choose Wisely
Certain plants inhibit celery growth through direct competition and allelopathy – chemical secretions that suppress neighboring plants. When selecting celery companions, consider these.
Here are some potentially antagonistic varieties I avoid interplanting with celery:
- Parsley: Despite similarities, parsley competes aggressively with celery for nutrients
- Dill: Although an excellent pest deterrent, dill stunts celery when planted too closely
- Carrots: These close celery wild relatives compete for soil moisture and nutrients
- Corn: While seemingly a helpful “nurse plant,” corn outpaces celery for space and resources
Instead of intermixing these species, I border celery with taller corn and carrots, keeping root zones separate.
Strategic mapping creates optimal companion partnerships:
- Place sunflower, dill, and corn on the north side of celery rows to prevent shading
- Group marigolds, nasturtiums, and herbs along celery’s base for close-range pest protection
- Train vertical climbers like peas or cucumbers onto celery for structural support
- Mind airflow and spacing needs of all species for healthy growth
Staggering crop times is also vital for continual harvests:
- Sow fast-maturing lettuce, radishes, and arugula in spring
- Transplant celery seedlings after your last average frost date
- Add bean and herb seeds in phases over the whole growing season
- Cover crop cleared companion spaces mid-season to enrich soil
While experimentation is required to discover the ideal celery commingling in your space, the plant insights gained are lifelong skills!
Promoting Peace in the Patch
Maintaining equilibrium among an interplanted mix of species with varying needs can be challenging. Monitoring moisture, pruning aged plants, and replenishing nutrients foster patch health.
Here are some harmony maintenance tips:
Right Moisture at the Right Time
Celery requires consistent soil moisture for tender, crunchy stalks. However, take care not to overwater moisture-sensitive companions like onions or garlic.
Check soil moisture around the celery’s root zone daily by sticking a finger 1-2 inches down. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water!
Pest Patrol & Preventative Pruning
Vigilantly monitor for pest or disease outbreaks and immediately remove and dispose of affected plants.
Prune aging companion plants to make space for successive waves of seedlings. Prompt removal prevents pest habitat creation.
Nourishing the Living Soil System
Annually, top-dress beds with aged manure and compost to replenish nutrients for heavy-feeding celery.
Plant cover crops during garden downtime to prevent future deficiencies, enabling pest explosions.
While balancing species diversity takes attentiveness, the symbiotic rewards are well worth it!
Now that we’ve covered interplanting fundamentals let’s see celery companion gardening in action…
Celery Companion Gardening Case Studies
While the basics may seem straightforward, how do these symbiotic principles play out in natural gardens?
Let’s take a look at some thriving interplanted celery patches!
A Small Space Urban Garden
Richard, an avid apartment gardener in Milwaukee, has limited vegetable outdoor space. However, he was determined to cultivate a healthy stand of celery and other essential crops.
He constructed a vertical garden with wire fencing lined with landscape fabric, allowing 1.5 feet between “rows” and attaching it to a sunny wall.
Richard alternated celery transplants in each row with compact marigolds and lettuce and interplanted quick-growing radishes. He trenched narrow rows of bush beans below his wall garden, using the vertical celery as support structures as they matured.
Despite extreme space limitations, Richard’s interplanting model kept crucial crops separate vertically and horizontally while maximizing production in a narrow growing area!
A Market Gardener’s Efficient Intra-Row System
Raoul is an experienced Wisconsin market farmer who grows several acres of mixed vegetables annually, including celery, for wholesale production.
Seeking to maximize revenue per square foot, Raoul densely interplants celery transplants with four successive waves of lettuce, radishes, beets, and Asian greens.
He times fast-growing seeds to mature and be harvested as the celery canopies develop. The foliage provides living mulch, retaining moisture while suppressing weeds.
When celery reaches full size, the four successions of accompanying greens, roots, and herbs also provide supplemental midsummer income. This intensive interspersing allows Raoul to reap over $5000 more per acre!
A Community Garden’s Creative Collective Patch
The Eagle Heights Community Garden, located near Madison, WI, dedicated one of its large communal raised beds solely to celery and compatible flowers this past season.
They planted celery transplants in a central grid with successive rings of lettuce, radishes, onions, and marigolds. Tall dill and sunflowers edged the northern side, while nasturtiums cascaded over the southern trellised border.
This vibrant, multi-level arrangement with diverse colors and textures received rave reviews. Despite heavy pest and disease pressure on nearby plots, the interplanted celery and companions thrived without intervention. Plus, they enjoyed weekly communal harvests!
As you can see, celery companion schemes take many forms to maximize flavor and yields in spaces large and small!
These real-world examples and tips empower you to start experimenting with celery commingling. Observe what works best in your garden’s unique conditions – new discoveries are always waiting!