Carrot Sprouts and How to Identify Them

Identifying carrot sprouts isn't difficult once you know what to look for.

Raising these colorful root vegetables is such a joy. But when they are immature seedlings, their leaves can be difficult to identify. How do you know you are growing the right plant if you can’t even spot the seedlings first leaves?

We’ve covered growing and planting carrots separately, but in this article, we will show you how to identify whether or not your germinating seedling is a carrot sprout or not.

Carrots with their shoulders showing symbolizing that they are ready for harvest

Carrot Germination Time

Be patient when you are waiting for your carrot to germinate.

If you’ve taken a look at the typical growth stages of a carrot, you’ll know that a carrot seed usually takes about 14-21 days to germinate.

Once it germinates, you may start to see the immature leaves of the carrot’s seedlings begin to appear.

14-21 days can seem like quite a while, particularly if you’re growing carrots for the first time. But remain patient because, with time, you will see the carrot leaves start to appear.

Identifying Carrot Sprouts

When you are looking for your seedlings, look carefully. When they first appear, they are quite fine and can easily be missed.

After a couple of days, the carrot’s leaves will thicken up and become more apparent.

In fact, as you see below, the green leaves can look almost identical to blades of grass.

Identify carrot sprouts by looking at their first true leaves

They Look Like Blades of Grass

If you’ve planted your carrot seeds in a pot or a raised bed, it should not be difficult to identify your carrot seedlings. However, if you’ve grown it in an area where there are weeds or grass, it might be slightly harder to recognize.

Carrot leaves will grow out of one spot in the soil. The leaves themselves look silky and have a delicate texture.

Grass, on the other hand, will grow out of the soil from multiple spots. Even though it may look like they are growing out of one spot, if you look closely, you can see that blades of grass are just seeded very closely and growing from different spots.

So what you’ll want to look at are the actual leaves. For carrots, the second grass leaf grows from the first leaf itself.

carrot sprouts look like blades of grass

Smell the Leaves

One trick you can use to identify a carrot sprout is to pinch a small part of the leaf and smell it. Similar to most plants, carrot leaves will smell like carrots. Grass or weed leaves will not.

Just Wait for The Plant to Mature

Another thing you can do to tell the difference between weeds, grass, and these root vegetables is to simply wait for the plant to mature.

You know how grass and weeds look like when they mature, so they should not be hard to identify.

The truth is, you probably know what carrot leaves look like as they mature too. Remember Bugs Bunny and the carrot with the long cilantro-like leaves?

As carrots mature, the two thin grass-looking leaves will eventually start looking like palm tree leaves or cilantro leaves.

Mature carrot sprouts look like cilantro leaves

Wait for Your Carrot Harvest

Now that you know how to identify carrot sprouts, we hope you will be patient and just let your carrot plants grow. The joys of a vegetable garden are endless, and surely you will see that once you harvest your beta-carotene rich root vegetable!

Carley Miller
Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at Bustling Nest. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.
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