Beginners sectionContainer Growing

How to Grow Carrots In Containers

How to grow carrots in containers. Growing carrots in containers or patio planters can be more successful than you would expect and it is a great way to begin growing your own at home. Urban planters / Containers make the perfect entry level vegetable garden for the beginner, as well as offering some valuable growing space on balconies, patios, rooftop gardens or anywhere with limited space. While alot of containers may not suit carrots as well as planting them in the ground or in raised beds, there are many things you can do to ensure growing success and an easy crop of your own fresh carrots.

Using a carrot patio planter bag

Choose the right container
First of all choose a deep container, like a carrot planter bag, to facilitate the carrots long roots. As the roots need plenty of space to grow, a planter of about 1.5ft high is perfect. It doesn’t matter what type of planter it is just as long as there are plenty of drainage holes. Our patio planter is made from polyethylene and can be folded away for storage when not in use, all you need to add is 40 Litres of compost and your plants or seeds. It is reusable, so just wash properly before re-use to remove bacteria.

View Our Carrot Patio Planter

Stump root carrots for containers

Choose the right variety of carrot
Not all carrots have to be the “Bugs Bunny” type, I learned this after growing plenty of misshapen, wierd looking, stunted roots. A nice round variety will grow much better in growbags. A variety like ‘Early Nantes’ or ‘Chantenay Red Cored’ are ideal, they have the classic tapered shape but are shorter and wider and taste as good as any carrot you will grow. For shallow containers you can also grow round varieties like ‘Paris Market Round’ pictured above, these are well worth growing and are absolutely delicious roasted in a little oil and balsamic vinegar.

View Carrot Seeds

Choose a good soil or compost for your container
A loose, light soil or compost is always best for carrot root growth. Loosen the soil and make sure there are no stones or hard bits, if the carrot root meets any obstruction it will grow misshapen and hard. Fill the container to within 1 inch of the top. Some huge benefits here over growing in the ground, there are no soil pest problems, no weeding to be done and no need to worry over poor soil conditions if using a bag of shop bought stuff. Fertiliser can be added on a weekly basis, but is purely optional. Our carrot growbags require only 40 litres of soil/compost to fill it. We recommend a bag of 40 Litre Living Green Organic Compost.

Carrot seedlings germinated in a pot

Sowing Your Seeds
Make shallow (2cm) holes about 2.5-3in apart and put 3 carrot seeds in each one then fill over with your soil mix or compost then thoroughly water. Keep the soil or compost wet going forward to ensure the roots get enough water to maximise growth. The drainage holes will expel any excess. Carrots are best planted in March in partial sun.

Care of carrots in a planter
Once your seedlings have reached about 1 inch high, trim 2 out of 3 down to near the soil level, leaving only one per planting group standing. After a couple of days if the stems start to lean, mound up a little bit of soil to straighten it back up and ensure the root is completely submerged. If the orange root is exposed to sunlight it will turn green and taste bitter. Your delicious container grown carrots should be ready after 2.5 months, they can be harvested a week or two beforehand if you prefer them sweeter.

How to grow your own carrots video

Further Information
For growing carrots outdoors please see our video tutorial above.

    1. Andrew

      Hi Mark. Yes, you can grow carrots in boxes provided they have some drainage holes in the bottom. Also, bear in mind that carrots have long tap roots so they will not grow well in a shallow box. I would recommend growing a globe carrot variety like ‘Paris Market Round’ which will cope better with shallow planters.

      I hope this helps


    1. Andrew

      Hi Tony
      Unless you have sown them very thinly it will be necessary to thin out carrots otherwise they will be small and the roots will be intertwined.
      I hope this helps

  1. Julia Daly

    Hi Andrew,

    This was a very helpful post for me as I have never grown carrots before. I have some fairly big tubs which I shall fill with appropriate amounts of compost. My main problem is that the front of the house is in pretty much full sun all day, whilst the back garden is in pretty much shade all day. I don’t want my carrots pre-cooked, and some of the previous year’s weather was fierce, but I was wondering whether in full sun or almost entirely shade would be better – should I try to rig some kind of shade for the tubs and have them out front for the sun. These pots are too wide and (when filled and watered) too heavy to move down the side of the house if the sun is too much for them. Any thoughts/suggestions. Thank you.

  2. Gigum

    Hi Julia – Just a quick response to your question. Carrots grow best in full sun. If you make sure to keep them well watered in dry conditions, (carrots will split and become woody if not adequately watered), then hopefully all will be fine. Best wishes.

  3. Natalie Roberts

    Hi, I have planted carrot seeds in a planted which I now realise needs to be deeper. Would it cause too much damage if I were to move them to a bigger planter now?

  4. danielle

    As my carrots grow in the container the green tops are getting long and drooping over…Should I cut them or let them droop over??

    1. Andrew

      Hi Danielle
      I would leave them be as the carrot uses it’s leaves to make sugars which build the roots. If they are drooping they may need more irrigation as they grow in this dry weather, this is especially important to watch in container grown plants. Andrew

  5. Bella

    Hi, thank you for the article. It’s very detailed and helpful. I’m growing some baby round carrots in planters. I’ve been watering them a lot during the day. I’m thinking of give them some extra nutrition by spay food feeder liquid into the soil. Would it be ok? Can you recommend a good organic food feeder please? Thank you!!!

    1. Andrew

      Hi Bella. I would use a very light dressing of blood, fish and bone on the soil surface and water in. You want a feed which is high in phosphorous to encourage root growth and avoid high nitrogen feeds or you will get too much leaf at the expense of the roots. Blood, fish and bone is NPK 2-9-3 so high in P (phosphorous). I hope this helps. Andrew

    1. Andrew

      Hi Liz. This looks like a typo, it should have been 3cm. I have corrected this, sorry for the confusion and thank you for pointing this out. Andrew

  6. Michael Lynch

    I’m growing carrots just starting to get 3 full leaves do they need feeding and what do you feed them with please

  7. Caroline

    Do I need to do anything to protect them from pests? I’d love to have a go at growing carrots but any flowers that I try to grow always seem to get eaten by pests. My garden seems to have a lot of the thin spiders that look like daddylonglegs and I always see these in both my grass and the soil, so wondered if they were too blame for any of this and if they were, whether I needed to do anything to protect the carrots? Sorry if this is a silly question, I am a gardening novice!

    1. Andrew

      Hi Caroline
      Not a silly question at all. The main issue with carrots is carrot root fly which can be avoided by covering with an insect mesh. If you are growing carrots for the first time you may not have a problem here, it is worth a try without.

  8. amit

    nice article and informative. I am starting my gardening journey and wanted to plant tomatoes now (Aug 2020) but looks like i am late. I have a big terracota pot ~ 1 feet deep and 18-20 inches diameter.

    What type of soil (or soil preparation) will you recommend please, I hear a lot about using cocopeat and garden soil mixture, any recommendation on ratio ?

    And regarding bugs/carrot flies will a fine mesh covering 1 fit high around the top of the pot good to protect from pests

    1. Andrew

      Hi Cheston. You can see the approx size of the carrot by the shoulder of the carrot which shows above the ground. You can harvest them as baby carrots or leave them to grow on if you want them bigger. Full size maincrop carrots take 4-5 months from seed until they are ready to harvest. I hope this helps. Andrew

  9. Tracy A Conabeer

    Hi Andrew can I ask why you plant in threes and then cut the top of 2 off please?

    Do the 2 cut ones go on to grow more leaves/carrot later on or do they just die off?

    1. Andrew

      Hi Tracy.
      I think the text may be a bit confusing so I have removed the part about groups of 3. The point is that because carrot seeds are so small, it is very difficult to sow them at the required distance. You will normally have more seedlings (baby plants) than you need so you need to thin them out otherwise they will be too crowded and will grow very small carrots. The thinning process is what is referred to when we remove 2 out of every 3 carrots, they are nipped off at soil level and will die. You could pull them up either but cutting off disturbs the roots of the carrots you want to keep less. I hope this helps.

  10. Moses

    hi Tracy,

    How can i protect 30cm containers filled with carrots to avoid carrot root fly damage please? making a protective tent when they are sown in the ground seems easy to understand to do but im not quite sure how anyone would be able to manage it by growing them in containers of 30cm+.

    1. Andrew

      Hi, good question. The fact that you are growing your carrots in a raised container means you should have less of an issue with carrot root fly. You can build a fly barrier by popping some bamboo canes or something similar into the soil around the edge of the container and covering with mesh. Hope you get a great crop!

  11. Liz

    As a first time carrot grower this is really helpful thank you. One thing I’m confused about though – the information at the top says to ensure the root is fully submerged but how then do you see the shoulder of the carrot, as in ‘You can see the approx size of the carrot by the shoulder of the carrot which shows above the ground.’?

    1. Andrew

      Hi Liz
      Apologoies, the text may have been misleading. I mean the carrot should be covered up to the shoulder, the more that sticks out of the ground, the more that turns green, but you should still be able to seed the top of the carrot.

  12. Cilica

    Placing three seeds in one hole isn’t confusing, I’ve been told this before. I have a suggestion for the carrot seeds being small for accurate planting. I make the hole, place a straw in the hole, put the seed in the straw, remove the straw and whalla.

  13. Mona

    I planted carrot seeds in seed propagator without actually reading how to grow them. I had only two seeds in a section so I was hoping to move them. My only concern now, after having read how to grow carrots is that will they be ok if I moved them to another container? Also the planters I have are 2 feet high, will they be good enough in height to grow the carrots? I will have to get raised beds for my next batch as everything is paved in our garden.

    1. Andrew

      Hi Mona, carrots don’t like root disturbance so it would be tricky. My advice would be to start over now. It’s the ideal time as the first generation of carrrot root fly should be gone by the time your carrots come up ina couple of weeks time. The 2 foot containers will be ideal for carrots. Hope you have a great crop!

  14. Jane

    I’ve read lots about sandy soil for carrots. I’ve got a couple of pots planted but carrots are very slow to come through and sparse, one with just compost and one with compost and coco coir. I was going to plant another 30l pot with a mix of bought compost, sharp sand and some coco coir with some fish, blood and bone. Am I trying too hard? Last year my carrots in a raised bed with compost were a disaster. Also what are your thoughts on adding worm castings?

    1. Andrew

      Hi Jane, I’m not sure how new you are to growing. Carrots take about 2 weeks to germinate so it could be just that they haven’t come through yet. Blood fish & bone would be good for carrots but you will only need a small amount. You will want to make sure that this is mixed in really well as if a carrot meets a pocket of fertilizer it will fork. Hope this helps!

  15. Jane

    Thanks Andy. This is only my second year of growing. Planted the compost pot about 8 weeks ago. And the coco coir mix about 5 weeks ago. In Scotland so the weather has been cold. On the plus side my potatoes are doing really well!

    1. Andrew

      Great to hear your potatoes are doing well. If you sow some carrots in the next few days they’ll be coming up as the first generation of carrot root fly die off so it’s good timing really! Best of luck and do let us know how you get on.

  16. Bill Faust

    Hello from the United States. I watched some videos on YouTube from Home Grown Veg. I tried to grow them in a 5 gallon bucket liner and it worked great. I made a few mistakes. I need to add some sand and not plant so many. I think a good number would be 32 seeds. Good luck my fellow gardeners.

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