Carrot sprouts – here’s how to identify them

Have you ever wondered what carrot sprouts look like? Growing carrots can be a great experience for anyone, whether you’re an experienced gardener or not. However, growing carrots does come with its challenges. One of the challenges is being able to identify the leaves. So, without further ado, here’s what these carrot sprouts look like:

identifying carrot sprouts

Table of Contents

carrot sprouts

After 2-3 weeks the seeds would have begun to germinate. The leaves are delicate and have a silky texture. The center section is the largest and has two smaller lobes on either side. When you first see these carrot sprouts, they will look very fine. But with a little bit of care, they’ll soon grow into strong and healthy carrot leaves.

root vegetables


When your carrots sprouts have first started to germinate they can be rather tricky to identify at first glance. What makes matters worse is it can be even more difficult to spot them when you have weeds and grass growing around them. The new shoots can be easy to mistake for weeds or grass if they’re not properly identified.

Differentiating Carrot Seed Leaves and True Leaves

The shape of the cotyledon or seed leaves is probably the most difficult aspect of the identification process. A cotyledon is essentially the first part of the carrot sprout that supplies the roots with all of the essential nutrients from the Sun. As the carrot plant grows and flourishes, its true leaves will start to blossom and cotyledon will die off.

The cotyledon doesn’t usually resemble a carrot plant–they’re small and round. It’s only when the true leaves start to come up that you can tell for sure if it’s a carrot plant. The initial leaves have lengthy grass-like leaves and miniature stems.

The growth stages of carrots are listed below to help you better understand what they look like.

identify carrot sprouts

Carrot Seedling Growth Stages

Stage 1: Germination

Germination of carrot plants usually takes place within 2 to 3 weeks which is a lot slower in comparison to other crops. You will first notice a grass-like seedling that has long blades and a short stem which makes them so easy to miss identify.

Carrots are particularly tricky to grow during the germination stage because their cotyledons can easily be mistaken for weeds. If you’re not paying close attention, you might inadvertently pull up your carrot plants thinking they’re unwanted growth.

Stage 2: First Set of True Leaves

The first set of true leaves is when the seedlings really start to take shape and begin to look like miniature versions of the carrot plant you know and love. These first leaves are where you’ll start to see the distinctively-shaped lobes that are characteristic of carrots.

At this stage, the plants will be a deep green color with some varieties having a purple or red tinge. The cotyledons will also begin to die off and fall away from the plant as the true leaves emerge.

Stage 3: Second Set of True Leaves

The second set of true leaves is when the carrot plants really start to fill out. The leaves will be a bit bigger and more robust than the first set and the plant will start to look a lot like the mature version.

The color of the leaves will also deepen during this stage, becoming a richer green (or purple/red if your variety has that coloring). If you’re growing carrots for their roots, you’ll want to wait until the second set of true leaves has fully emerged before thinning out your plants.

stage 4: Maturity and Harvest

The final stage of carrot growth is maturity which takes place around 70 to 80 days after germination. The plants will be fully grown at this point and the roots will have reached their full size.

The leaves will also be at their biggest and most robust, making them easy to spot in a field or garden. You can start harvesting your carrots as soon as they reach maturity or you can let them grow a bit longer for storage.

carrot seeds to harvestable carrots

Telling the difference between carrot sprouts and grass/ weeds

Below are some differentiating factors that will help you tell the difference between carrot sprouts, grass, and weeds:

First Leaves

The first leaves to emerge from a carrot seed are long and thin, similar to blades of grass. These cotyledon leaves are notched at the tips and have a hairy appearance.


Carrots have a distinct, basil-like smell that is different from grass and weeds. This can be helpful in identifying them, especially when they are still young seedlings. Unlike carrots and weeds, grass doesn’t have a particularly pungent smell. However, if you handle the carrot seedlings too roughly, they will wilt and eventually die.

Leaf Growth

As the carrot seedlings mature, their leaves will grow in a rosette pattern with each leaf having 2-3 lobes. The leaves of grass and weeds, on the other hand, will grow directly from the stem in an alternating pattern.

carrot seedlings


Carrots are a tricky vegetable to grow, but with the right information, you can easily identify the different stages of their growth. In this article, we have outlined the four main stages of carrot seedling growth and provided some tips on how to differentiate between them and other types of vegetation. Let’s summarise:

  • Carrot seedlings will germinate after 2-3 weeks
  • The leaves will be delicate and have a silk-like texture to them
  • The most difficult aspect of identifying a carrot sprout is the shape of its cotyledon or seed leaves
  • True leaves are the only definitive way that you can tell carrot sprouts apart from anything else
carrot conclusion image

People Also Ask

Are carrot sprouts edible?

Yes, carrot sprouts are definitely edible and can be enjoyed in a number of ways. You can add them to salads, soups, or stir-fries, or simply munch on them as a healthy snack.

What can you do with sprouted carrots?

Did you know that carrot plants are edible? Not only can they be eaten raw, but they can also be cooked like other greens. In addition, there are many recipes for a carrot plant pesto. However, if your sprout develops into flowers and then seeds, you now have a never-ending supply of carrots!

Are hairy carrots OK to eat?

Yes, hairy carrots are perfectly safe to eat and in fact, they’re quite delicious! The hair-like fibers on the surface of the carrot are actually called “greens” and they’re edible. So, don’t be afraid to give them a try.

What do baby carrot plants look like?

Baby carrot plants look like miniature versions of their adult counterparts. They have the same type of leaves and roots, but they’re much smaller in size. When you plant carrots, you can expect to see sprouts within 2-3 weeks. The seed leaves (or cotyledons) will be long and thin, similar to blades of grass.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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