What Does Carrots Look Like When It Sprouts

Carrots are a popular and versatile root vegetable, but have you ever wondered what they look like when they sprout? Carrots sprout in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the sprouts can range from soft and delicate to dark and woody.

They typically have a bright yellow or orange hue and a small, thin stem with a few leaflets. The sprouts can be eaten, although they are often bitter and woody in texture.

Generally, carrot sprouts are used as a garnish or added to salads for a unique flavor and texture.

The Sprouting Seed

Sprouting carrot Seed

When carrot seeds are planted and given ideal growing conditions of warmth, moisture, and sunlight, they will begin to sprout within 7-10 days. Take a close look at newly sprouted carrot seeds, and you will notice a very thin white filament emerging from the soil.

This initial sprout is the carrot radicle or embryonic root. At only 1-2mm long, it is barely visible to the naked eye. The radicle is the first part of the seed to emerge and begin drawing moisture and nutrients from the soil. Over the next few days, it will continue lengthening slowly underground.

The First Fronds

After approximately 10 days, following closely behind the radicle, two tiny, feathery leaves emerge from the soil. These initial fronds or needle-like leaves are light green to yellowish in color. They are the carrot plant’s cotyledons – the first true foliage produced from the seed.

The cotyledons are slender, linear, and pointed at the tips. Each leaflet is only around 5-10mm long at first appearance. Gardeners should take care at this stage, as the newly emerged cotyledon fronds are quite delicate and vulnerable to damage from elements like heavy rain.

Seed Leaf Growth

Carrot Seed Leaf Growth

In suitable conditions, the original carrot seed leaves or cotyledons will continue expanding in size over the following week. They elongate from their initial pin-like shape into longer, thinner elliptical structures around 1-2cm in length.

The leaves also change color, maturing to a brighter, deeper green hue. At around 3 weeks from planting, a third leaflet may start to emerge at the base of the existing pair of cotyledons. This triangular early true leaf will be much smaller than the seed leaves.

Root Swelling Begins

Carrot Root Swelling Begins

After the cotyledons are fully expanded, farmers should start to notice some swelling at the base of the carrot plant, below the soil line. This swelling indicates that the carrot taproot has begun to develop and is putting on biomass.

Initially, the swollen carrot root may only be around 0.5cm wide. But it should thicken steadily each week as the carrot plant grows taller and stronger. The root will take on a cylindrical, tapered shape, narrowing down into the rootlet.

Topping Out at 6 Weeks

growing carrot closeup

Given adequate sun, moisture, and nutrition, most carrot varieties will be mature enough to harvest around 6-8 weeks after sowing seeds. At the 6-week stage, the following development can be observed:

  • Carrot plants stand 15-25cm tall
  • Leaflets are 10-15cm long on sturdy petioles
  • The swollen root is 3-5cm wide and 10-15cm long below the soil
  • True leaves in a rosette formation around the crown
  • Root ready for initial test harvests and tasting!


We hope this overview provided helpful insight into what carrots look and grow like in their sprouting and seedling stages.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What color is the carrot sprout?

Answer: The sprout of a carrot is usually a yellowish-green color.

How long does it take for a carrot to sprout?

Answer: Depending on the variety of carrot, it can take anywhere from two to four weeks for a carrot to sprout.

Are carrot sprouts edible?

Answer: Yes, carrot sprouts are edible and are a great addition to salads and other dishes.


Lastly, understanding what carrots look like during their early sprouting and seedling development can help home gardeners successfully cultivate this important root vegetable crop. The initial radial emergence, followed by delicate cotyledon fronds, then strengthening true leaves and swelling taproot, provide visual clues about the carrot plant’s progression towards maturity.

With suitable planting conditions and care given to young sprouts, carrots will establish robust foliage and begin bulking up their characteristic roots within 6-8 weeks. Continuing growth will produce nutritious roots ready for fall harvest.

For gardeners seeking to add this cool-season vegetable to their plots, taking note of the various sprouting stages outlined in this article will aid in the identification of healthy carrot growth versus any potential issues. Proper care at each phase helps nurture carrots from seed to a bountiful harvest.


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