How To Propagate Carrots

Newly harvested straight healthy carrots.

Carrots are known to be the crop that doesn’t require high soil quality and can thrive even in colder climates. This crop is attractive with its flowers and is an excellent companion plant for other crops to prosper as well.

Carrots are the best source of carotene and other nutrients like calcium, fibers, and sugar.

Propagating carrots from seeds is the most common practice for many gardeners. However, utilizing the top of the carrot is also preferred by some growers to produce seeds.

Utilizing the top of the carrot propagation method is a practice where you need to cut the carrot tops and use them as the seedlings. Below, we will show you how to propagate carrots from seeds and how to propagate carrots from carrot tops.


How To Propagate Carrots From Seeds

carrot seeds in a hand above fresh soil.
Image by: goodhousekeeping.com
  • Carrots prefer loose and well-aerated soil. Cultivate the media a little early in spring when considering sowing carrot seeds.
  • Ensure the soil is well-tilled up to 12 inches deep.
  • Carrot seeds usually germinate 14 days after sowing.
  • Soak the seeds in water for about 6 hours before planting if you wish to speed up the germination process. Doing this will take the seedlings only ten days to germinate, instead of two weeks.
  • Allow the seeds to get adequate sunlight by sowing them shallow.

Note: Here are a few factors to keep in mind when growing carrots.

  • Keep the roots of the carrots under the soil surface while growing. Roots exposed to the sun can turn the vegetable bitter and green.
  • It is also best to sprinkle wood ashes over the garden before sowing the seeds as carrots require a lot of potassium.
  • Applying mulch in the garden is advisable to keep the soil moist and it will allow plants to grow to its optimum potential.
  • Carrot growers must aim to achieve accurate spacing and the right population while growing. When the plant’s population is too low, it can make the root grow out of control and can cause splits and cracks in the vegetables.
  • However, when the population is overcrowded, roots tend to grow smaller and can often cause twisting around one another.
  • It is always best to thin the vegetable early. Carrot thinning should be done a week after seeding and again a few weeks later to get the most out of its optimum potential.

Three Ways To Propagate Carrots From Carrot Tops

carrot greens information chart
Infographic by: foodrevolution.org

You can propagate carrots from carrot tops by using 3 different methods. They all have a high success rate and each of them are fun to test out.

You can use carrot tops to grow healthy carrot greens instead of tossing them into the compost. Here are the three efficient ways on how to propagate carrots:

              1) The Water Method

Growing carrots in water from the carrot top is the most common way among the three. All you need is about an inch of the carrot top.

Place the top you cut into a small glass with water and allow 2-3 days of soaking. Place the glass in a spot with sufficient light, but not on a window sill that gets a ton of sunlight.

Ensure to change the water every day to prevent the formation of bacteria that can perhaps spoil your carrot.

It is also advisable to use an old juice glass for the process since you’ll perhaps end up with mineral stains.

              2) The Ceramic Pie Plate Method

Another method to grow carrots from the carrot top is through the use of a ceramic pie plate and marbles.

All you need to do is fill the plate with a single layer of marbles and set the newly cut seedlings right on the top.

In this case, you’ll still be growing carrots in water, but the water level is up to the top of the marbles only. You will usually find about 6-7 sprouts when they start to emerge and this can even make an impressive display when planted together in a single container pot.

              3) The Newspaper Method

Lastly, you can use several layers of newspaper on a basin sheet as the medium for sprouting carrot tops. Arrange the paper at the bottom and completely immerse it in water.

However, make sure that there is no standing water as you set a few pieces of carrot tops in the newspaper. You will find that roots will start to develop in a few days. Ensure to keep the paper wet.

Once the roots establish well, the new plants will show rapid growth and allow you to enjoy its harvest.

Note: On Planting The Carrot Top

Propagating carrots from carrot tops will not give you an edible carrot. These vegetables don’t produce tubers like potatoes do which makes them remain as roots.

Instead the plant will bloom and will be able to produce seeds you can plant in your garden to obtain more vegetables over time. But know that you can only get seeds from a variety that is not hybrid.

The next time you try to propagate carrots from the tops you will know exactly what to expect. You’ll be able to create lush and attractive foliage that will beautify your garden. It will somehow give you the feeling of creativity and fulfillment as you watch them grow.


Common Characteristics Of Carrots

  • Carrot seeds are easy to grow no matter what variety it is, and this type of vegetable is a biennial.
  • This type of vegetable prefers to grow in a sandy or loam type of soil. If your garden consists of compacted clay soils, it is best to grow carrots on raised beds.
  • It usually takes 17 days for the seed to germinate at 10˚C soil temperature. However, it will only take seven days for the plant to sprout with the soil temperature at 20˚C.
  • The leaf itself gathers energy from the sun in the first year to build large starchy roots.
  • They will store their energy in this big starchy root during winter, and in the following spring, they will use the stored energy to generate a tall umbel of white flowers.
  • Young carrots make tender and crisp snacks and provide the best flavor.
  • As the weather gets colder, carrots convert a lot of their starches to sugar, making the roots extra sweet in winter.
  • Newly germinated carrots can withstand a light frost up to -2˚C.
  • Light frost makes the carrots sweeter and helps improve their quality.
  • An over-sized and over mature carrot is susceptible to breakage and splitting and often tastes woody and tasteless.
  • The shelf life of carrot seeds stored under advantageous conditions (10-20˚C and 10% humidity) can last up to three years. Seeds stored inappropriately will start to show symptoms of lower germination rate right after a single year of storage.

Important Tips: Store your carrots separately from apples. Why? Because apples contain ethylene and when placed in the same location will make your carrots taste extremely bitter.


How To Harvest Carrot Seeds

Carrot flowers that are full of seeds.

As your carrots grow, you will find that the green foliage above the ground, will in time, start bolting. In that flower are the seeds you can harvest for another carrot planting.

Carrots are biennial, making the plant unique. If you wish to save seeds from the plants you are growing now, you can do so by next year.

As you sow carrot seeds, it will begin to germinate after 10-14 days. The roots will start to establish, and later on, will develop into the carrots you can harvest and eat.

The foliage that gradually grows are the ones that will turn into the flowers, but it won’t start to bolt until the following year.

It will take time before you can save carrot seeds, which is why you need a little planning if you wish to do so.

Aside from waiting, you also need to ensure you will pick the best-growing plants in this season to save the seeds. If you find something off with the breed of carrots you are growing, it is best not to save those seeds.

Learning how to harvest carrot seeds correctly is also essential. It is imperative that you pick the seeds with the best potential. Saving the seeds from your garden is not only fun, but it is also the most practical choice.

If you’re considering planting carrots each year continuously, saving seeds from your garden will give you an ample amount over time.

Many gardeners find collecting carrot seeds is an easy task compared to other vegetables. Once the flowers start to develop from the foliage, cut the flowers off the plant and wait for the seed heads to ripen fully.

As the heads begin turning brown, you can either shake the flowers inside the bucket or allow the flowers to dry up completely. The seeds will fall off easily either way.

When you try to collect seeds by shaking the flowers, make sure you do it in the area where the wind isn’t prone to blowing or else you’ll be in for a rough afternoon.

You can also shake the flowers by holding them upside down inside the bucket. It will prevent the seeds from falling all over the place or from being blown away.

Do not cover the container right after collecting carrot seeds from the flowers. Retained moisture generates mold and can spoil the seeds. Make sure to dry the seeds thoroughly before you store it in a cool, dry place.


Typical Problems With Growing Carrots

Carrots are one of the most common crops in the home garden that almost everybody loves. They are easy to grow, but sometimes you will unfortunately encounter carrot problems.

Here are some reasons why these problems occur, and let’s learn how to address them!


1) Why Is My Carrot Distorted?

Newly harvested deformed carrots.

One of the most common problems you may perhaps encounter when growing carrots is when the roots become distorted.

The long pointed edible root is obviously the notable common characteristic of a carrot vegetable, and it’s not quite pleasant when you find it in a distorted form.

There are several reasons why your carrots might be deformed, forked, uneven, and distorted. Here are most of them:

  • Chewing insects
  • Improper cultivation
  • Lack of water
  • Lack of soil with good organic amendments
  • Planted in a compacted or rocky soil
  • Planted too closely together
  • An infestation of root-knot nematodes
  • Disease like phytoplasma aster

Nodules on carrot roots cause the plant’s deformity due to the invasion of nematodes. Root-knot nematodes are soil organisms that are not visible with feeding activity which can cause lumps on the primary roots resulting in the vegetable deformation.

You’ll always find phytoplasma aster in the list of common carrot problems. An infection that can make your carrot develop excess furry roots, making the vegetable foliage turn yellow.

This disease which was introduced by leafhoppers can transfer from one plant to another plant’s host and can even survive winter in weeds.

Carrot deformity can be addressed with these following tips:

  • Pull the plants out of the soil as soon as you discover that they might be infected to avoid the spread of the disease.
  • Avoid planting in that area for at least a season unless you sterilize the soil with extremity.
  • The use of natural bacterial agents like hydrogen peroxide and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can help you control leafhoppers and nematodes.

Unfortunately, you can’t fix carrot deformity once it starts growing that way. The best and most economical solution is to practice appropriate safeguards to counter these problems.

Here are some additional tips on how to safeguard your carrots:

  • Till the soil well.
  • Add plenty of organic compost in your garden before planting to encourage vigorous growth which will result in healthy vegetables.
  • Remove existing plant debris every fall.
  • Keep your garden weed-free to lessen the possibility of phytoplasma problems.

2) What are the Common Carrot Diseases Alongside Their Symptoms? 

a deformed carrot sticking out of brown soil

Carrots are often susceptible to common diseases and infections because of its edible part growing under the ground.

By watching your carrots closely as they grow, you will discover some symptoms usually appear above the ground. This will occur if your plants happen to develop such infections and diseases.

The most common symptoms to look for are:

  • The top of the carrots turning soft with possible rotting
  • The foliage is perhaps dead to the ground
  • When you pull the carrot out, you will find the roots stunted or forked

Common Carrot Diseases:

1) Leaf spots are a fungal disease with symptoms like dark circular spots and yellow halos on the plant’s leaves that are often uniform in size.

The progressive increase in numbers can cause all the leaves to turn yellow which will eventually kill them.

2) Leaf blight is a fungal infection caused by a pathogenic organism with brownish-black shapes that consists of a yellow color at the center of the leaves.

3) Powdery mildew is a fungal infection that is easy to see. The plants display white cottony growth in the leaves and stems.

4) Bacterial leaf spot is a bacterial disease caused by pathogens with symptoms like yellow halos and brown stripes in the middle of the stems and leaves.

5) Black root rot is a fungal disease caused by infected seeds that can survive in the plant debris for eight years once established.

6) Aster yellow makes the carrots that are affected grow excessively hairy with poor taste.

Its symptoms include reddening of some leaves, and the top produces a volume of lanky shoots, similar to a witches’ broom.


Final Thoughts On How To Propagate Carrots

Slow germination and deformation are the two common concerns with carrot growers. 

If you are new to carrot propagation, try some of the recommended planting tips above, particularly if you have trouble germinating the seeds. Also, reading up on the right type of soil is imperative to proper carrot propagating.

One of the most important concerns that you need to keep in mind is that carrot deformation usually occurs because of compacted soil, over-watering, close spacing, and diseases.

Nonetheless, with the use of loose and moist soil, cold weather, and enough supply of water, you can always grow delicious and beautifully looking carrots. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask below.

About Benita Abucejo

Hi there! My name is Benita Abucejo. What can I say? I truly love spending my days in the outdoors, specifically in the garden. Gardening has always been a strong passion of mine since I was a little girl. It has brought me so much joy and happiness that it is definitely safe to say that I will be a gardener for life. For a period of time, I was able to work with people who are into home gardening and I found it to be quite beneficial to my physical health, as well as my mental well-being. Here at Seasonal Preferences, I am going to share with you my experience and ideas so that you can fulfill yourself with the same satisfaction and happiness. Of course, if you have ideas, I would love to hear those as well! Being creative in the garden can really be quite fascinating so let's share our experiences and be the best gardeners we can be. With that being said, thank you for dropping by and please leave me a comment on one of my posts if you would like to get in touch!

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