Children's projects Garden Myths Gardening Vegetables

Is It True You Can Grow New Carrots From Carrot Tops?

Carrot top rooting in a bowl of water.

By Larry Hodgson

Question: I saw on Facebook that you could grow new carrots from carrot tops. The claim is you can cut off the top of the carrot, root it and grow a new one. That somehow doesn’t seem likely to me. Am I missing something?

Rich Howard

Answer: You’re not missing anything. It’s yet another bit of misinformation being widely shared on social media, as if there wasn’t already enough bad gardening advice circulating!

You often see this offered as a project for children. You cut off about the top 1 inch (2.5 cm) of a carrot, place it in a bowl of water and soon white roots appear and new leaves start to grow. But no “carrot” (thick orange taproot) ever forms. And there’d be no place for a taproot to grow in a bowl of water at any rate.

Even if you planted the carrot top in soil—and one variation on this technique is to plant the carrot stub in a pot of soil—, it still would only produce secondary roots and leaves. For a carrot plant to form a taproot, you have to grow it from seed… in deep soil.

Do note that carrot leaves are edible and if you want to grow carrot tops for their edible leaves, go for it! (Do make sure to give the rejuvenated plant plenty of light!) But you can’t grow an edible carrot taproot from a carrot top.

Other Vegetables

The same applies to beets, parsnips, turnips and other vegetables mostly grown for their thickened taproot. You can also grow their tops for edible foliage, but none will produce a new taproot once the original one has been removed.

Romaine lettuce on a windowsill: from stub to leafy greens in only days. Photo: aurooba.com

That said, you can legitimately grow such vegetables as romaine lettuce, bok choy and celery in a bowl of water or pot and turn them back into full-fledged veggies by rooting the bottom of the vegetable, not the top. You can read more about that in the article Leafy Greens From Kitchen Scraps.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

3 comments on “Is It True You Can Grow New Carrots From Carrot Tops?

  1. “as if there wasn’t already enough bad gardening advice circulating!”

    Well said. I have grown pineapples from the top for many years, I have seen a video on growing pineapples. He said tops work, but it is not the best way of the three ways & you can split the top to make more than one plant.
    Thanks, for showing the plants that will, as well as the ones that do not work.

  2. You would not believe how many feral vegetables we find on the big compost piles from the cafeteria like dining room kitchens. We get tomatoes, potatoes, squash, cucumbers, and sometimes beans or small bits of lettuce. Carrots sometimes grow, but like you say, they do nothing more than produce a bit foliage. I do not mind, since I dislike carrots so much. However, I would have expected carrot roots to grow from some of the busted off roots somewhere on those piles. It just does not happen.

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