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Thin, straight green blades sticking out of the soil may not just be grass. You may be looking at the first shoots of a carrot crop. Carrot sprouts do look like grass, but soon assume the feathery leaves we all recognize.

Carrot sprouts begin by looking like blades of grass. After about a week, they begin to grow the familiar feathers. Because carrots need space to grow, the plants need to be thinned out when they are seedlings & when they are growing. From the sprouts, it takes carrots about 60 days to grow.

Sprouting carrots are the beginning of the crop of this versatile vegetable. Read on to learn about carrot seeds, planting them, and watching them sprout.

Carrot sprouts

Carrot sprouts

Carrot sprouts are young carrots. The leaves that break the ground look like thin blades of grass. They will begin to feather after some days. The roots of older carrot sprouts are thin and only about 3 – 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) long.

Carrot sprouts are the first signs of a growing carrot plant.

They are also the young roots of the plant that can be picked and eaten within a few weeks of sprouting.

The seeds will take 2 to 3 weeks to show above the ground.

The first leaves are long and thin, looking very much like blades of grass.

After a few days, the leaves will thicken and begin to feather.

The roots of carrot sprouts are thin and a few inches (or cm) long.

They can be eaten.

What do carrot sprouts look like?

What do carrot sprouts look like?

Carrot sprouts don’t look like feathered carrot leaves. They rather resemble thin blades of grass. There are usually 2 blades that may be joined by the sheath of the seed. These will split as they grow & the true leaves develop.

As carrot seeds sprout and break the surface of the soil, you will see that the leaves are long and thin.

The carrot sprouts are often still joined by part of the seed, which drops off after a few days.

The leaves will thicken and begin to feather.

If you pick carrots when they are still sprouts, the roots will be thin and only about 3 or 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) long.

How long does it take for carrots to grow?

How long does it take for carrots to grow?

It takes carrot seeds between 14 and 21 days to sprout & emerge above ground. The plants will take 60 – 80 days to reach maturity. At this stage, the orange roots are ready to be harvested and used as food in a variety of dishes.

Carrots grow from tiny seeds that can take between 14 and 21 days to germinate and appear above the ground.

They then grow steadily for 60 to 80 days, depending on the conditions under which they have been cultivated.

Carrots can be grown in a mini greenhouse, which is a controlled environment, so the conditions for their growth can be maintained, and they grow more quickly.

How to plant carrots

How to plant carrots

Carrots should be planted at the beginning of spring when the ground has begun to thaw. They are planted in furrows that are about ½ inches (1.25 cm) deep. Plant quite a few seeds by dropping them into the furrow and cover them with a little soil.

Carrots grow best in cooler weather, so plant them in early spring, as soon as the ground has thawed and you can work it over.

The seeds can also be planted in mid-fall.

To plant the carrot seeds, make a shallow furrow of about ½ inches (1.25 cm) deep.

Sprinkle the seeds into the furrow, then cover them with a little sand.

Water the seeds by dampening the soil to at least the level the seeds are at.

How to plant carrot seeds

How to plant carrot seeds

Because of the size of carrot seeds, more are planted than the area they are planted in can accommodate. The seeds are sprinkled in a furrow of about ½ inch (1.25 cm) deep. They should be spread along the furrow and then covered with just a little soil.

The seeds of carrots are particularly tiny, so it’s not easy to select a few to plant.

They are usually sprinkled over the soil, rather than planted one by one.

Make a furrow of about ½ inch (1.25 cm) deep.

Sprinkle the seeds along the furrow and then cover them with a shallow layer of soil.

Sprinkle water along the furrows, so that the soil becomes well dampened.

It will take the first seedlings about 2 to 3 weeks to sprout.

Radish seeds can be planted as companion plants to carrots.

Check out our complete guide to companion planting.

Where do carrot seeds come from?

Where do carrot seeds come from?

Although a carrot can begin to sprout and may be grown as a new plant, the orange root itself doesn’t contain seeds. Carrot plants produce flowers, like all other plants. The flowers mature and produce the seeds from which carrot plants grow.

Carrot flowers are part of the above-ground part of the carrot plant.

Because carrots are harvested when the root is ready, the plants often don’t flower.

Find out whether a potato is a fruit or vegetable.

Carrot spacing

Carrot spacing

As carrot plants grow, there needs to be enough space between them for them to get the sun they require. The carrots themselves also need space to grow into. The best spacing for carrots is about 4 inches (10  cm) between mature plants.

Carrots can grow to about 1 – 1/5 inches (2.5 – 3.75 cm) in width at the top.

This means that mature plants need enough space to grow.

The optimum spacing between carrots is about (4 inches) 10 cm.

To have enough space between carrot plants, it will be necessary to thin out the crop until there is enough space for the mature plants to grow and the roots to expand.

Carrot seedlings

Carrot seedlings

From the moment the first leaves emerge above the ground, the small carrots plants may be regarded as seedlings. This takes about 2 to 3 weeks. The seedlings will compete for sun and space, so will need to be thinned out. Carrot seedlings that have begun to grow can be bought for planting.

When the first leaves show above the surface of the soil, a carrot seedling has begun to emerge.

The characteristic feathered leaves are noticeable only after about a week or so when the leaves have thickened.

Some of the carrot seedlings will have to be removed, to thin out the crop.

Find out the cause & fix for when seedlings are yellow.

 How to thin carrots

 How to thin carrots

When a lot of carrot seedlings sprout, they will need to be thinned out at 3 different stages. When thinning out the carrots, each plant must be removed completely, including the roots. This allows enough space for the remaining plants to grow & obtain sufficient nutrients.

There is competition between plants as they grow, including carrot plants.

Carrots should be thinned out so that there is enough space between the plants for them to grow.

Begin by thinning out the plants, taking the whole plant, including the root.

After about a month from sprouting, thin out the more mature plants again.

Carrot sprouts


When a carrot sprouts, it produces thin green leaves that look like grass. After some days, these leaves thicken and then begin to feather. Under the ground, the small carrots that are growing can be harvested early, but can also be left to grow to maturity.

Greg Volente

Greg Volente holds a Naturalist Certificate from the Morton Arboretum, worked for The Nature Conservancy leading environmental education programs and doing natural areas restoration, and worked in the soil science research & testing lab at Michigan State University. Besides gardening, he's an avid wildflower enthusiast, and loves botanizing, hiking, and backpacking.