Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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Do you want to find a use for your kitchen scraps? You can grow a whole new plant from the unused top of a carrot to create an edible and ornamental house plant.
Place a carrot top so it is in contact with water or soil. Put the carrot top in a warm and sunny location, and you will grow a carrot plant in a few short weeks.
Growing a plant from a cut carrot, sometimes called a sprouted carrot, is a very easy way to make the most of your garden. While this won't grow another carrot, you will have an easy (and free) house plant that is edible and will produce carrot seeds for your garden.
When you grow a cut carrot top, you will NOT grow another carrot. Once the root is harvested it can't produce another carrot. Instead, the cut carrot top will grow new shoots out the top, and roots out the bottom, and you will grow a carrot plant. This carrot plant will produce the green, bushy tops that are completely edible, and it will eventually flower and bear seed. This is a great project to do with kids, since it is simple, grows quickly, and you can watch it happen.
For each method, you want a cut top that is about 2.5cm (1inch) long. The more green stem the better since this will encourage faster growth. Once cut from the carrot, it is best to begin growing the top as soon as possible, and within 24 hours at most. It might grow after this, but your chances of growing a strong and healthy plant are reduced.
The carrot top should begin sprouting shoots and roots in a couple of days and can be planted into a pot of soil. Make sure not to bury the stems, but leave the greens and half the carrot top exposed. You can begin picking and eating the stems in 6 to 8 weeks, and it should flower in a few months.
There are five different ways to grow a cut carrot:
Image by Carmen Edenhofer
This is by far the easiest way to grow a cut carrot. Simply fill a pot with soil (or go out to your garden), and plant the carrot top so the soil is below where the green starts. It should look like a carrot this is growing in the ground. Keep it watered and watch it grow.
Another very simple method is to place the cut carrot top in a shallow dish. Fill the dish with water so half of the carrot is submerged. Keep an eye on your carrot and change the water every day. Once roots and stems have developed, the cut top can be planted into a pot full of soil. Remember not to completely bury the top.
This method has the advantage over the previous way because it frees up space for roots to develop. It also has the advantage that the carrot is not directly submerged and stays a bit fresher.
Stick three toothpicks into the sides of the cut carrot. Insert the toothpicks about halfway up the carrot, and at equal distances around so it looks like the spokes on a wheel. Rest the toothpicks on the rim of a glass, so the carrot is suspended over the middle of the glass. Fill up the glass with water until the water just touches the bottom of the piece of carrot.
Put water in the glass as needed to ensure the carrot is always in contact with the water. Once the roots and stems have developed, you can plant the carrot into the soil. Remember to leave half the carrot top exposed.
Image by Carmen Edenhofer
This is a nice method because you do not have to use standing water that can be spilled or go bad. Layer several sheets of newspaper into a tray or pan. An old baking sheet works well, but you can use and flat dish with sides. Thoroughly soak the newspaper with water so it is wet through. Place the cut carrot tops, green side up, on top of the newspaper. Keep the newspaper wet as the carrot develops roots and stems.
It can be potted into soil like the other methods.
If you like rock gardens, then this is method for you. In the bottom of a flat tray (such as the one you used in the previous method with the newspaper), put a layer of rocks, pebbles or marbles. You can even fill a vase or other container with pebbles or marbles for a more aesthetic look. Whichever you use, fill it up with water to the top of the rocks. Place the carrot tops right side up on top of the rocks. Add water as needed so the bottom of the carrot stays in contact with the water.
Plant it into the dirt after the plant is established, and remember to leave the stems above the soil.
Image by Carmen Edenhofer
In a few months, your new carrot plant will produce a beautiful, white, bell shaped flower. If you want to harvest seeds from this flower to use in your garden, here are a few things you should know:
Carrot flowers are pollinated by insects, so you will have to put your plants outside during the day. Most carrots that you buy in a store are hybrids , meaning they were cross-pollinated with other varieties to produce certain characteristics. Seeds from a hybrid carrot will not produce the same kind of carrot as the mother plant. It will produce a different, though possibly, similar variety. In this case, it is best to have at least 10 plants in bloom at the same time to improve genetic diversity.
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