One of the requirements for the BPSA-US Otter program’s Nature (Green Paw) Badge is to “Regrow a Carrot Top or Other Plant in Water”. Here’s one way to do this using a carrot top.
A word of warning: you will not be able to re-grow the orange carrot root. If doing this with kids, make sure they understand this at the start, or they may be very disappointed to see only stalks and leaves growing.
This doesn’t mean that doing this serves no purpose! In addition to growing pretty green stalks and leaves, the carrot tops you regrow using this method may grow flowers and seeds that can be used to plant new carrots. You will have a better chance of getting viable seeds if you have several carrot plants growing at the same time, so you might start the project with multiple carrot stumps.
This activity involves the use of a knife and sharp toothpicks. Otters should do this activity with proper supervision and help.
You will need these things for this activity:
- A whole carrot
- A knife for cutting the carrot
- A cutting board
- Toothpicks for holding the carrot up
- A small vessel for holding water, like a juice glass or teacup
- Using the knife, cut the top 3/4 to an inch from the top of the carrot.
- Stick three or four toothpicks into the carrot stump, angling them up and away from the carrot, like so:
Make sure the toothpicks stick out far enough to hold the carrot stump suspended over the water vessel, with some of the carrot stump below the top of the water vessel.
- Place the carrot stump and the toothpicks onto the top of the water vessel.
- Add water to the vessel so that the bottom of the carrot stump is fully immersed in the water, but the top of the carrot stump is not.
- Place the vessel with the carrot stump and water in a well-lit place. A window sill is ideal.
Wait, Watch, and Water
The carrot top may take a while to regrow. Check the water level every day and add water before the water drops below the bottom of the carrot stump. Be patient – it may take a few weeks for the carrot top to resprout. If you are both diligent and lucky, you may be rewarded with some green leaves and stems.
Here is a close-up photo after 4 days, showing the very beginnings of some regrowth:
Plant in the Ground, Hope for Seeds
Once the carrot tops have resprouted from the carrot stumps, you can plant them in a pot or a garden bed. Plant them so that a little bit of the orange part is above the soil line, and keep them well watered. The tops will thrive this way, and if you look under the soil line, you will see that that stumps have developed small root hairs to absorb water and nutrients to feed the carrot tops. After a while (maybe a long while), they may develop flowers and, after that, seeds. You can collect the seeds and plant them as you would plant any carrot seeds. It is likely the new carrots will be different from the original ones, so don’t be surprised if they aren’t as big or the same color as the ones you started with.