Celery is one of my favorite vegetables to grow for a number of reasons. Not only is it crispy and juicy, but it can be used in so many dishes. As a base in soups, stews and casseroles, cooked, raw, and snacked on, celery tastes best when fresh and picked from the garden.
Celery is also a plant that responds well to being planted with the right companion plants. It also suits companion planting because you plant celery quite far apart, giving plenty of options for companions.
Celery loves protection from frosts as well because frost makes the stalks mushy and intercropping can do that. Want to make your celery harvest better? Let’s go.
Why Companion Plant?
Before we explore the various plants that grow with celery, we’ll look quickly at why we use companion planting, also known as intercropping. This is a skill for all of your growing activities.
Companion plants boost growth for each other, repel pests, and allow you to use your garden space efficiently. Pollinators attracted to one plant will move to all of the plants in the companion planted gardens.
Soil health is often better when plants are companion planted, and harvests last longer through the season. Some plants are a line of defense for the other plant they are planted with.
Companion Plants That Grow Well With Celery
Here are the best options for growing with celery:
Celery takes a lot of nutrients from the soil because it’s a heavy feeder. Legumes replace nitrogen and other nutrients in the soil that celery gobbles up. Celery takes about 16 weeks to grow fully, so it’s a long time to be removing nutrients.
Try these legumes for a healthy partnership:
- Lentils: Once the soil temperature is above 40ºF plant lentils about six inches apart in between or around celery. Although not a common or popular choice, give it a go and see what happens in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 11.
- Beans: These have double benefits. Beans provide nitrogen to the soil while the celery emits a smell that repels whitefly. Also, beans often struggle with whitefly so both celery and the bean get a good deal from this partnership. Celery and beans are one of the most successful companion plantings.
- Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas): These sun-lovers suit being planted with celery and share the same temperature requirements. Both plants need 60ºF to 70ºF to thrive and both are slow growers in that they take over 100 days to harvest.
Anyone who has planted brassicas knows how much whiteflies love these plants. They will maul the leaves and leave you with a poor harvest. The celery plant gives off an aroma that whiteflies avoid. When you interplant both celery and brassicas, you stop them from coming into that garden, or at least it keeps the numbers down.
One study shows that brassicas helped celery grow bigger and stronger.
- Brocolli: Celery is said to improve the flavor of broccoli as well as keep the whitefly away. Both are sun-lovers.
- Radishes: Plant quick-growing radishes in amongst the slow-growing celery. The radishes are protected from whitefly, and you can get two or three radish harvests to one celery harvest. Just don’t plant the radishes too close to the shallow root systems of celery or you will disturb them.
- Kohlrabi: Some gardeners say that celery enhances the flavor of brassicas. Kohlrabi tastes more earthy next to celery.
- Cabbage and Cauliflower: Celery, cabbage, and cauliflower all have strong scents that drive each other’s pests away. Having this combination makes it hard for pests to home in on their preferred vegetable.
Alliums are thought to increase the sweetness of celery stalks. A great test for you to do is to have one patch of celery plants with no companion plants, and one patch of celery plants with alliums to taste-test the difference.
- Onions: Alliums, and especially onions release a substance into the soil which assists in repelling insects that attack the roots of plants like celery.
- Garlic: The antifungal property of garlic helps keep the soil around celery healthy.
- Chives: Chives help repel insects attracted to celery, especially the common garden pest that seems to eat everything, aphids.
- Leeks: A study involving leeks showed that the plants benefitted each other and increased yields.
Herbs in celery beds help to deter pests by masking the smell of celery with their more potent scents. They attract pollinators and the larger herbs can provide a little shade from the intense afternoon sun.
- Mint: This strong herb can help deter rabbits, hares, and deer from coming for your celery.
- Rosemary: Rosemary attracts pollinators in large numbers. Rosemary may repel carrot fly, cabbage looper, and even slugs and snails. If you prefer a spray and chemical-free garden, try rosemary as a slug and snail repellant, which love young, tender celery.
- Thyme: Celery hates nutrient-gobbling weeds, so ground cover herbs like thyme will assist in preventing them by covering the ground.
- Dill: The distinctive aroma of dill attracts beneficial insects to the garden. Praying mantises, ladybugs, and wasps. These insects love dining on aphids and other insects that want your celery.
- Parsley: Parsley is a good sacrificial crop to use near celery because it will lure whitefly away. It’s not technically a companion crop because you don’t want to plant it close to celery. The whitefly will move from the parsley to the celery, so use parsley away from the celery garden.
Other herbs you can plant with celery provide shade, insect repellant properties, weed suppression, and soil health include:
- Oregano (in containers placed by the celery)
- Bee balm
There are a lot of flowers that look good in the garden with splashes of color, and with beneficial properties for celery. Think about a mixed garden, rather than just vegetables.
- Marigold: Nematodes are repelled by marigold, so it is a perfect flower to be near any vegetables, not just celery. Marigolds also repel flea beetles and cabbage worms. Plant in a line in front of celery. or around them.
- Cosmos: Cosmos are attractive to parasitic wasps. When they are lured into your celery patch by the cosmos, they will find a whole buffet of insects they love to eat targeting your celery plants.
- Nasturtiums: I have a love/hate relationship with nasturtiums. They will lure aphids and whitefly away from celery, but this plant has its downsides. Nasturtiums spread in a manner that could be considered invasive if left to their own devices, and they drop a lot of seeds to grow in spring. If you use nasturtiums, put them in containers, not the ground. Keep them trimmed to the area you want them to be and remove any seeds you find on the ground.
- Geraniums: Slugs hate geraniums planted in groups. The scent from geraniums also deters flea beetles and snails.
A study from a few years ago found that cherry tomatoes provide benefits to celery and the result is a larger, healthier harvest.
Other Plants You Can Intercrop With Celery
The plants we’ve covered so far are the plants that best suit being a companion to celery for beneficial reasons. There are other plants that grow okay with celery. Some have benefits for celery, some just grow well alongside it. They include:
Plants You Shouldn’t Intercrop With Celery
Some plants just don’t get along. They can cause each other to have stunted growth due to devouring the same nutrients or they attract pests and diseases detrimental to the other plant. The incorrect combination can be harmful to plants and your harvest.
- Corn: This is a heavy feeder and will compete for the nutrients celery needs. Corn also gets very tall and will shade celery too much.
- Potatoes: Both celery and potatoes suffer similar diseases. Planting them next to each other is risking both crops. Timing is off with most potatoes as well. You will harvest potatoes when the celery needs a little more time in the garden. Harvesting potatoes close to celery may disturb it too much.
- Carrots: Celery and carrots demand the same nutrients, so a garden with both planted side by side becomes deficient in those nutrients.
- Parsnips: Similar to carrots, parsnips require the same nutrients as celery.
- Strawberries: Both plants suffer from verticillium wilt. Planting celery next to strawberries can kill off your strawberry patch. Then you have an area of the garden you don’t want to plant either celery or strawberries for a couple of seasons.
- Rutabaga: Celery has a shallow root system. Rutagaba harvesting disturbs this root system and pulling them out will cause celery to suffer.
4 Tips for Companion Planting with Celery
- Practice with different celery plantings. Some plants you definitely cannot plant with celery. Others work just okay. Sometimes different gardens allow for different companion planting results, so get to know your garden and what plant combinations work.
- If you notice something wrong with your celery, you should note which plants are growing with it. Sometimes you can give celery all it needs in terms of nutrients, soil quality, and water, but one other plant causes it to struggle. Keep a notebook if you’re interested in companion planting so you don’t repeat mistakes.
- Varieties of plants together make for a much more balanced garden, so practice companion planting.
- Take note of the number of celery pests when you companion plant versus using a monoculture system and see what works best for you.