Celeriac: Not Pretty But Pretty Tasty

Although celeriac isn’t the prettiest vegetable (think knobby, hairy baseball), once you’ve tasted it, you’ll be hooked. It’s closely related to celery, but instead of producing thick stems, celeriac develops a swollen root structure topped with many stalks of attractive dark green, parsley-like leaves. Trim off celeriac’s bumpy brownish outside to reveal a dense, creamy white flesh.

Celeriac has a delicious, mild celery-like flavor with a hint of nuttiness and can be used raw or cooked. This vegetable is fairly easy to grow (just be sure to keep it watered), but it does require a long growing season of 110 to 130 days after transplanting, so plan ahead.

Common name: Celeriac, celery root or knob celery

Botanical name: Apium graveolens var. rapaceum

Plant type: Vegetable

Zones: n/a

Height: 18 to 24 inches

Family: Apiaceae


Growing conditions

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Loam or sandy loam with high organic matter is ideal.
  • Moisture: Evenly moist; keep plants watered through the growing season for the best quality celeriac

Care

  • Mulch: 1 to 2 inches of straw, loose compost or other organic mulch
  • Pruning: None
  • Fertilizer: Dig in compost or balanced fertilizer before planting; then fertilize monthly with diluted soluble fertilizer or compost tea.

Propagation

  • Seeds


Pests and diseases

  • No major problems

Cultivars

  • ‘Giant Prague’ (also known as ‘Large Smooth Prague’), ‘Diamant’ and ‘Brilliant’ are popular varieties.

Garden notes

  • Celeriac is slow to germinate and grow, so start seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the average last frost in your area, or look for established seedlings at your local garden center.
  • Celeriac tolerates light frosts, but harvest before serious freezing temperatures set in.
  • Trimmed celeriac keeps extremely well in the refrigerator, often up to 3 or 4 months.

All in the family

  • Celeriac is a member of the carrot family (Apiaceae), which is sometimes still listed under its old name, Umbelliferae.
  • Other common garden vegetables and herbs in the carrot family include carrots, parsnips, celery, fennel, dill, parsley and cilantro.
  • The caterpillars of black swallowtail butterflies are partial to feeding on carrot family members (dill seems especially popular), so be sure to plant extra in the garden.


Where to buy