How to Grow Carrots in Containers

The humble little carrot, in Latin its name is Daucus carota.

Carrots of any type or colour are a great way to get yourself or the kids started in gardening.

They require little skill, minimal care and minimal effort. You’re almost guaranteed a delicious harvest in the late summer with spring planting effort.

Carrots are high in beta-carotene, vitamin B6, vitamin C, niacin and calcium. A carrot is actually the young root of a plant that looks a lot like Queen Ann’s Lace.

Queen Anne's Lace or Wild Carrot

There are many unusual colours of carrot, such as Purple Haze that you’ll sometimes see in the stores. The yellow, white and red carrots look beautiful too but are not often found in the stores.

Long ago, in the days when everyone had a backyard garden, carrots were always multicoloured – that was normal. Somewhere along the way though ‘we’ decided that carrots should be orange and the other colours fell into obscurity for several decades.

Now with the benefits of eating local organic food becoming so obvious and important, the other colours of carrots are making a bold reappearance.

If you shop at farmers markets or in the speciality markets you may see some purple carrots or maybe a bag of mixed colour, young rainbow carrots.

Certified Organic Seed, White SatinPlanting

If you’re starting from seed, then pick up the seed packages labelled Kaleidoscope mix. It’s a seed mixture of white, yellow and different shades of orange carrot in one package. 

It’s a bit more interesting than just orange carrots on their own. 

Here’s a fun idea, before planting, mix the purple carrot seeds and Kaleidoscope mix carrot seeds in the seeder (buy a seeder here) together and then start planting.

Doing this makes it a super fun way to grow and pick, especially for kids because you never know which colour is going to pop up next!

There are so many different, delicious and beautiful types of carrot that you can grow. You can use the harvest on a summer veggie platter and create a gorgeous rainbow and amaze your guests. 

Types of Carrot

There are many varieties of carrots, all with different sizes and characteristics meant to suit a multitude of growing conditions and needs.

The main types are: Imperator, Chantenay, Danvers and Nantes. It’s not pictured here but the Danvers carrot looks like a short. stumpy Imperator.

Main Types of Carrot

For container gardening you’ll want to choose a smaller variety with a smaller mature size and fewer days to maturity.

  • Purple Dragon carrots are thicker and a bit stumpy with a thick purple ring
  • Purple Haze is longer and slimmer like the imperator with a thinner purple ring

I prefer Purple Haze because they are slimmer and have a softer texture and when you pick them young, they’re so sweet and delicious. 

Soil Needs

Carrots prefer a looser, lighter soil with some perlite mixed in. This makes it easier for the roots to grow long and straight down. The ideal pH for them is 6.0 to 6.8.

For a small number of tubs or containers then I recommend buying good quality bagged potting soil for vegetables in containers. Buy it here.

If the soil is dense or rocky, the carrots will struggle to grow through it. They will be shorter, more stumpy and sometimes growing in odd directions with two or three legs.

If they run into a rock or are grown in rocky soil then the carrots sprouts will grow around them and become crooked and bent in crazy ways.

I don’t recommend digging up existing garden soil to put in a container. It’s too dense and will be very hard packed and an unfavourable environment for the carrot seeds to sprout.

Type of Container

Carrot Sprouts in a Container

All varieties of carrots will be happy growing in any container that is a decent size and more than 12″ deep. The one seen here to the right is 15″ deep. Planting in a raised bed is a good method too.

These methods offer plenty of depth for them to grow. It’s very likely that you’ll be harvesting them early anyway.

Carrots usually take 60 to 75 days to harvest depending on variety. They are a cool weather crop and prefer the cooler weather of spring and early fall. They grow well in zones 4-10.

If you have the space, you can plant successive crops every couple of weeks in the spring and late summer as long as you have enough time before the winter freeze. This will give you a longer harvesting window and many carrots for delicious meals and snacks.
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Planting

Carrot seeds are very tiny and hard to manage. Once they’ve been sprinkled on the soil they are quite hard to see so it becomes difficult to know when you’ve planted the right amount. It’s very, very easy to over plant a carrot container.Luster Leaf Dial Seed Sower

If this happens and you accidentally put down too many seeds, it’s ok, just leave it and allow them sprout. Let them grow to about 1″ – 2″ tall.

Then carefully cut out the smaller sprouts with scissors (don’t pull them out). It’s easy to damage neighbouring sprouts.

The root will die and feed the soil while allowing the stronger seedlings room to grow. If the seeds are over crowded then none of them will grow large and healthy. Plant approximately 4 seeds per square inch.

This leaves room for the larger ones to grow healthy and strong. This doesn’t happen if the seeds are over crowded.

There are a smaller variety of seeds that are available in “pelleted” form. The term pelleted means that each seed has been coated in an inert, organic clay material. This makes them much larger and easy to handle and they’re really easy to see once sprinkled on the soil.

The coating quickly dissolves in the rain and the seed sprouts normally. Seed Tape is another good way to simplify the task of planting the tiny little seeds. The drawback is that only a few selected varieties are available in tape form.

Buy a SeederRainbow Carrot Seeds

It’ll save you a lot of time and wasted seeds. 

These inexpensive little gadgets called “seeders” that you can buy easily right here that will help you sprinkle a controlled amount of seeds. 

The one seen to the right is effective by offering a succession of holes each increasing in size for sprinkling through larger and larger seeds. 

This seeder design is very precise, the Tenax Precision Air Suction Seeder will allow you to pick up one seed at a time to have complete control over how many seeds are applied to the soil.

They’re really a big help to prevent over seeding, choose the one you like the best. 

Planting the Seeds

One package of seeds will go quite far and will be enough for 2 large 18″ containers. I can never resist wanting to put more seeds than that in to two containers. Nom-nom-nom…more beautiful carrots! It’s important to resist doing this, too many seeds in one container is not better.

Anyway, once they’re planted and covered with a thin layer of soil, pat it down just a little. Then use a gentle sprinkler to water them so as not to turn up the soil and disturb the seeds. Use a watering can with small holes or a handheld hose wand with a soft spray.

Days to Sprout

Purple Haze CarrotsThey don’t need tons of water but it does need to be consistently moist. If there is no rain, keep them watered by hand enough so that the surface doesn’t dry and form crust.

It’s important to keep the top few inches of soil moist until they sprout. Then if the outside temperature is right, you should see sprouts popping up in 14 – 17 days. 

It’s important to know that the seeds will lie dormant, grow very slowly or stop growing completely right where they are if the temperature dips after planting or isn’t high enough to meet their ideal growing conditions to sprout. 

The optimum temperature for them is a consistent 13º C or higher. 

They will resume growing as though nothing happened when the temperature rises into this range. They don’t like to be too hot either, the seedlings begin to suffer in temperatures higher than 30º C.

Keep them lightly watered but not too wet while they grow. The top few inches of soil should stay moist all the time.

Then 60 – 75 days from planting you’ll be able to start to picking the size carrots you can use for dinner and snacking on. It’s really hard to wait that long though!

What’s with the green shoulders?

As the carrots grow it may happen that they will push up out of the soil a little bit. This exposes the top end of the carrot (the shoulders) to the sun and causes it to turn green. This isn’t unhealthy it’s just not very nice looking.

The way to remedy this problem if it happens is to reserve a bit of soil in the bag, and when you see the shoulders starting to show, just add a bit more soil to cover them up again to block out the sun.

Picking
Hugging Carrots

When picking select the ones with the largest, thickest greens and then gently pull them up, sometimes they need a wiggle.

Wash or brush off the soil and enjoy. You won’t even have to peel them, they′ll have a deliciously irresistible, earthy flavour.

This should be enough instruction to get you going with learning how to grow carrots in containers or raised beds.

Carrot Facts Summary

*Very tiny seeds
*Easy to grow
*Cool weather crop
*Seeds sprout at about 13º C
*Prefer loose, loamy soil
*pH of 6.0 to 6.8
*Nearly pest free when grown in containers

Please leave a comment below if you need additional help getting your delicious, colourful carrot garden started.

Buy Carrot Seeds from DirectGardening.com






Comments

How to Grow Carrots in Containers — 32 Comments

    • That’s fantastic! I’m so glad you’re starting that with them! I know you’ll all have a great time together and have so much fun doing it. Let me know how it goes!

    • Yes you can. I’ve done it many times. It’s good though to have a bit of close look through the soil before replanting it and make sure there are no obvious critters/larvae or other icky things in the soil. Don’t reuse the soil if you find things that shouldn’t be there.

      The most important part to remember with reusing the soil from year to year is that it becomes depleted of nutrients very easily and quickly. The soil will need feeding to be able to support the seeds. Use a good quality organic vegetable fertiliser like this one. Choose one with a low Nitrogen number (this is a low first number in the set of 3). Too much nitrogen will cause the carrot to grow only large green tops and no carrot below.

      Kelp meal, fish and seaweed emulsion are also good too. Fertilise the sprouts when they are about 3″ tall.

  1. Something I read That worked for me with great success, is to put a paper towel yo-you can double the paper towel- over your seeds after you plant them. Water the paperwork and keep it damp. I tried that last year and all of my carrot seeds pushed thru the soil and came up. Before that, I had trouble with them pushing the the soil, no matter how loose it was. After they sprout, just take the damp paper towel off and they will stand up. All of my seeds sprouted like this!

  2. I am planning on growing carrots in my classroom this year. I have a 40 gallon aquarium. My classroom has florescent lighting and 1 wall full of Windows. Any suggestions about lighting? Can I plant them throughout the year?

    • You definitely can grow carrots in the aquarium, it’s a great idea and should make it interesting and easy to see them grow.

      Does your classroom get any direct sunlight? The more sun or very bright light the better, southern or western exposure if possible. They’ll grow with indirect natural light but additional “grow” lighting would definitely be helpful and would speed the growth of the seedlings.

      Their preferred sprouting temperature is 70 – 80 degrees so they should do that quickly in the classroom. During the sprouting season, I recommend sprinkling the soil surface with cinnamon to help prevent “damping off” which is a common fungal disease of the soil that kills new seedlings quickly. Also, water your seeds and seedlings with chamomile tea, it has disease killing properties in it that will help your sprouts stay healthy and avoid damping off.

      You should be able to sprout them for a good part of the year but maybe not in the dead of winter…you can certainly try though! It would be interesting to record the findings and see growth progress (or lack of) for each month of the year.

      Keep an eye on the airflow too. If your seedlings are sitting in stagnant air that doesn’t move then that will breed problems and disease as well. This is a scenario that might happen if the soil level is set part way down in the aquarium. The easiest solution is just to have a fan nearby, set on low, gently blowing a breeze across the carrot “patch”, just enough to stir up the air around the sprouts.

      Good luck, let me know how it goes!

  3. I started growing scarlet nantes carrots on March 25 2015 in a large clay pot. The stems are only about 2 inches. And seem to have stop growing.any idea that will help. I wish I could send a pic.i water them every 2 days.the stems seem to wilt over.

    • Hi, how are things going now? Did the sprouts survive?
      The sprouts usually stop growing when the temperature isn’t quite right for them, usually happens when it’s too cold. It could be too much water that is causing them to wilt over. Watering every two days is probably too often.
      If the sprouts didn’t survive, you still have time to plant another crop if you wish.

  4. Hi, I’m growing red and Yukon gold potatoes in 5 gallon buckets. I hope it works! this is my first time trying this. I was wondering can I grow carrots in the 5 gallon bucket? By the way I just found this website and so far loving it. Thanks

    • Hi, I’m so glad you like the site, I hope it helps you. It’s great that you’ve gotten started gardening! The carrots will grow just fine in there, just don’t put down too many seeds in it. It would be easy to over plant and end up with too many sprouts.

  5. Hi, this is my third year gardening, this year I’m trying red potatoes and Yukon golds in 5 gallon buckets. I was wondering if I can’t grow carrots also in the buckets? Thank you in advance. I just found this website and so far love it

    • So glad you’re liking the site! 🙂 Definitely, you can grow carrots in that type of bucket too. They’ll grow well there, just be careful not to plant too many seeds in each one. Ideally, there should be 2″ of space between seeds to allow each one room to grow but I can never seem to resist planting a few more.

  6. I’m pleased to find a current gardening website since this year I will be trying /carrots and beets to my garden for the first time. I’ve often grown greens beans,cucumbers,tomatoes and peppers. Last year I added okra for the first time after a friend introduced me to eating fresh uncooked okra and I saw how yummy it was. Not the least bit slimmy just crisp and good. This year I will be doing a lot of 5 gallon pot growing and mulching to conserve water since it is no longer reasonable here in my Texas community to do so much watering like in the past. I will grow the beans in the soil only and everything else inpots. I’m glad to see that carrots do well grown in pots. Also expect the mulch will prevent the. Weeds from taking over. I’ve already got my carrots sowed and I am just learning I can’t just pull them up a and space them as I had believed. I’m growing regular orange ones now but have plenty of red seeds ordered
    To start on next. It gets quite hot here and I am looking for advice about my ideal to place my carrot pots on the west side of my house under a huge oak tree that would defend them from direct sunlight while providing filtered south sun.

    • Thank you, I’m glad you found it helpful! It’s great that you’re growing so much food already and want to learn to grow new veggies as well. The carrots will be an easy addition and delicious too. They’ll grow just fine in pots, you’ll be surprised.

      Watering can be an issue in some areas, setting up a mini drip system is a good way to use minimal water most effectively. It has a very low gallons per hour usage. Mulching will help a lot with conserving water and it will also slow the weeds down a bit too.

      The seedlings are very delicate, as you found out. If you seed too many in a certain area it’s best to let them all sprout for a few weeks or a month and then carefully cut out the smallest ones with scissors to allow space between them. This will allow the larger, faster growing sprouts the space they need to develop into a healthy carrot. Use a “seeder” if you aren’t already and that will help avoid over-seeding.

      I’ve got a rainbow mix of seeds planted now, but would like to try a whole crop of red ones! The biggest thing is making sure they get enough water, they should be able to handle any area that you put them in that gets mostly sun or bright filtered sun.

  7. I have just planted my carrots today. Never grown them before but getting into gardening heaps. Growing tomatoes, dwarf beans, eggplant, peas and strawberries too

    • That’s awesome! So glad to hear you’re getting into gardening up to the elbows! Carrots are fun to grow, I’m sure you’ll be happy with the results 🙂 What variety have you chosen?

      What’s the name of the dwarf beans that you’re growing? I’d like to try those.

      Do you live in a rainy area? I like to grow strawberries too, but have to fight the slugs to get my harvest before they do! The sweet strawberries are so delicious!

  8. I’m going to plant my carrot seeds in a container/planter. I just want to know what is the best type of soil to use to plant the seeds in the wooden whiskey barrels? Potting soil or a vegetable mix? Thanks

    • I store carrots in a plastic bag in the bottom drawer of the fridge. If you’ve grown the carrots yourself or bought them with the greens still attached then cut that part off before storing them, the greens will speed up the wilting process. They should last quite a while and stay crisp.

  9. this article has me pumped up to start growing! this will be my first time growing carrots! it’s still too warm in central FL for them right now, but hopefully the weather will cool down soon (we’re finally in the high 70s-low 80s). happy gardening!

    • Glad to hear it!! It’s fun and easy to grow them, I’m sure you’ll enjoy doing it and eating the harvest too! What seed types are you going to choose?
      You’re right, waiting for it to get a little cooler would be better. Let me know how it goes!

    • That’s wonderful! I’m so glad they enjoyed it and had fun with it 🙂 Eating carrots is so much more fun when you grow them yourself!
      What seed variety (or varieties) are you planning on trying?

  10. I just recently planted some veggies in pots. My cukes are already ~5 1/2 inches long. I also have two tomato plants, parsley, carrots, pepper, kale and dill.

    • 90 degrees might be a touch too hot for them, they prefer the temperature range of 50 – 85 degrees.
      The ideal temperature for them to sprout is 80 degrees.

      You can definitely try to sprout them while it’s hot, but you’ll likely will get better results after the weather cools a little bit.
      In most areas, there’s enough time before winter and carrots can be planted as a fall crop as well.

    • That’s awesome, glad to hear you’re giving carrots a try! They will be just fine, they still have lots of time to grow.

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