How to grow carrots from carrot tops to turn scraps into savings

You'll be tossing those carrot tops in the compost again

carrot tops in a saucer of water near a watering can
(Image credit: Alamy)

Rather than throwing all of your vegetable scraps into the composter, learn how to grow carrots from carrot tops and you can enjoy a second harvest hit from this popular veg.

Carrots are among the easiest vegetables to grow as part of your garden ideas and recycling the crop will prolong your enjoyment of the plants – for free.

'Growing your own carrots is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to enjoy fresh, home-grown veggies. While most people are familiar with growing carrots in containers from seeds, few know that they can also be regrown from their tops, which are usually thrown away or added to compost piles for making compost,' explains Daniel Carruthers of Cultivar Greenhouses.

However, before you get carried away imagining you will have fresh, colourful carrot roots emerging from the tops like some wonder of nature – you won't. But you will get the tasty green foliage, which can be used like a herb and added to recipes and salads. 

With their lovely fern-like foliage, carrots make attractive indoor plants when grown on a sunny windowsill, too, and if they flower you might be able to collect carrot seeds to plant in your vegetable patch in spring.

Daniel Carruthers headshot
Daniel Carruthers

Daniel is a passionate gardener and grow-your-own guru whose love of gardening began over a decade ago when he left his career as a London chef to move to the Welsh countryside and begin a new venture in the greenhouse industry. 

How to grow carrots from carrot tops

Carrots growing in pots

(Image credit: Getty)

If you're wondering how to grow carrots from carrot tops, there are a number of methods.

To get started, choose fresh and healthy carrots with green tops still attached. If you're using your own homegrown harvest, keep the carrot tops from the healthiest specimens. If you're using shop-bought carrots then choose organic.

What you'll need

  • Healthy carrot tops with greens still intact
  • Sharp knife
  • Tooth picks
  • Small glass
  • Newspaper
  • Small pot with drainage holes
  • Potting soil

3 methods for how to grow carrots from carrot tops

Carrots growing in a fabric pot in a home garden

(Image credit: Alamy)

It couldn't be easier growing carrots from carrot tops. 

For all methods, start by taking a sharp knife and carefully removing the upper section of the carrot so that you have a segment approximately two centimetres/one inch long. Cut back the foliage to a couple of centimetres.

1. Plant in soil

Carrots tops on a bed of soil

(Image credit: Alamy)

'Find a small container with drainage holes and fill it with well-draining loamy or sandy soil. Lightly moisten the soil and gently press the carrot tops into it with the cut end facing downwards,' explains Daniel.

'You can plant multiple tops in the same container, leaving an inch or two between them.'

'Place the container in a sunny spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day. Keep the soil consistently moist.'

As your carrot tops grow, you'll eventually see new green shoots emerging. 'When these shoots are a few inches tall – usually in two to four weeks – you can transplant them into a larger container, or out in the garden.'

2. Grow in water

carrot tops in a saucer of water near a watering can

(Image credit: Alamy)

'Carrots have the ability to be grown in water,' explains Julian Palphramand of British Garden Centres

'Insert a toothpick into each side of the carrot top and place it in a small glass. Fill the glass with water until it reaches the bottom edge of your carrot top. Place on a sunny windowsill, and remember to add water as needed to maintain contact with the bottom of the carrot.'

You will soon see new foliage emerging from the top, and small hair-like roots sprouting out from the bottom of the carrot top. 

Once the new plants have successfully developed roots, you can transfer them into soil in a container or the garden.

Julian Palphramand headshot
Julian Palphramand

Julian is head of plants at British Garden Centres and a font of knowledge on all things related to growing vegetables

3. Use wet newspaper

'You can also grow carrots from carrot tops and 'start the rooting process with newspaper,' explains Julian. 

'Place the newspaper on a plate and make sure it is thoroughly soaked. Arrange the carrot tops on the damp newspaper and within a few days, you will see roots emerge and start to spread. It is important to keep the newspaper moist,' he adds.

New carrot plants created using any of the methods above are excellent for adding to your herb garden ideas and if you manage to collect seeds from the flowering foliage then you can hopefully grow new carrot crops from them for free.

These methods for how to grow carrots from carrot tops also make fun gardening projects to do with the kids.

Carrots growing in pots

(Image credit: Getty)


How long does it take to grow a carrot from a top?

It doesn't take long at all to grow carrot plants from a carrot top. Whichever of the above methods you choose, you can expect to see new greens sprouting from the top within a couple of weeks at most.

How do you get carrot seeds from carrot tops?

If you place your carrot top plant on a sunny windowsill, and it's given the right conditions, it might flower and set seed. You can then collect these seeds for planting in the future. 

Be aware, though, that hybrid varieties of carrots, or some heirloom varieties might not 'come true' from seed. In other words, the new crop grown from the collected seeds might not be the same as the carrots they originated from.

Rachel Crow
Senior Content Editor

Rachel Crow is a senior content editor, contributing gardening content for, and is currently the acting editor of Ideal Home’s sister title, Period Living magazine. She was deputy editor of Period Living for 10 years and has written for lifestyle magazines for many years, with a particular focus on historic houses, arts and crafts, and gardening. Rachel started out her journalism career on BBC radio, before moving into lifestyle magazines. Always harbouring a passion for homes and gardens, she jumped at the opportunity to work on The English Home and The English Garden magazines for a number of years, before joining the Period Living team, and more recently the wider Ideal Home team.