Enjoyed in everything from salads to stir fries, carrots are easily one of the most popular and versatile veggies around. Perfect for those with a sweet tooth, carrots also provide an easy way to brighten up your plate.
When you think of this common root vegetable, what comes to mind first is probably the bog-standard orange variety. But there is so much more to these veggies than you might think!
From purple to white, you won’t commonly find these rainbow varieties in supermarkets, so they are certainly worth including in your veggie garden.
Here’s what’s to come in this article:
Read on to find out more about the best varieties to grow in your garden!
Best Carrot Varieties to Grow at Home
You can really have some fun playing with all the different types of carrot on offer.
Personally, I am an absolute sucker for beautifully colored veggies. Nothing makes me happier than a rainbow plate of food and, and as you’ll discover below, carrots are the perfect veggie for brightening up your plates.
In addition to coming in an exciting rainbow of colors, my favorites include some award-winning, flavorsome varieties that are incredibly sweet, and sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike.
And, for those of you who are too impatient to wait for your veggies to grow for an entire season (and I count myself in that category), there are also some fast-growing cultivars that I love. You’ll be eating your carrots in no time!
So, without further ado, read on to check out my favorite varieties below.
1. Deep Purple Hybrid
Feast your eyes on this royal, deep purple carrot. Unlike the ‘Purple Dragon’ variety that I’ll describe later, this cultivar is purple all the way through, and makes an irresistible ornamental display of color in salads, snacks, or dips.
To make the most of its unique hue, eating it raw is recommended because the color fades slightly when cooked. These grow to 7-8 inches at maturity, with tall fronds that can reach a height of 24 inches. They’re ready to harvest in 75-80 days.
Packages of 1000 seeds are available from Burpee.
2. Imperator 58
What a name – and what a vegetable! This type was a winner of the All-America Selections award for carrots in 1933, and it remains a favorite to this day. A classic heirloom variety, this is an excellent all-rounder.
The ‘Imperator 58’ is large and very flavorful, maxing out at around 9 inches, and it is much like the common type that you will find in the store. Plant ‘Imperator 58’ seeds in loose soil for best results. You can expect a harvest in about 68 days.
Packets and packages of seeds ranging in size all the way up to a 5-pound sack are available from Eden Brothers.
I warned you that I was a sucker for rainbow veggies, and so of course I am a huge fan of this seed blend. It is a mixture of not one, not two, not three, but FIVE beautiful colors.
With names like ‘Atomic Red,’ ‘Bambino,’ ‘Cosmic Purple,’ ‘Solar Yellow,’ and ‘Lunar White,’ you know this seed mix is going to be good.
Packets of 1500 easy-to-grow seeds are available from Burpee. Expect 75-80 days to maturity, with roots maxing out at about 8 inches in length.
4. Little Fingers
‘Little Fingers’ matures earlier than most others, and from sprout to harvest, your roots should be ready to enjoy in only 55 days.
Don’t be fooled by its size! This mini root may look small, but it is packed full of sweetness and comes with the added bonus that it can be planted very densely and still produce a large harvest. This heirloom is perfect for those growing in small spaces.
This veggie thrives with full sun in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9, and does best in sandy, well-drained soil.
You can find this variety at True Leaf Market in several package sizes up through 5 pounds.
5. Lunar White
‘Lunar White,’ as the name suggests, produces long, white roots that reach a maximum of about 6 inches in length in 65-80 days.
A descendant of an ancient variety of wild carrot, this sweet and tender heirloom looks like a parsnip, but tastes like the sweet orange root that you know and love.
It likes to grow in sandy, well-drained soil in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-12, and thrives in slightly acidic soil (pH-6-7).
Seeds are available in 1-ounce, 4-ounce, and 1-pound packages from True Leaf Market.
6. Parisian Heirloom
This heirloom variety produces carrots that are round and stumpy rather than long and thin, making it ideal for growing in compacted, heavy, or rocky soil, or for growing in shallow pots.
This sun-loving garden crop thrives in full sun in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9. The best thing about this carrot, aside from its unique shape, tender texture, and sweet taste, is that it matures earlier than most other types, ready to harvest in around 60 days.
Seeds are available in various quantities from True Leaf Market.
7. Purple Dragon
Wow. This is a seriously impressive-looking carrot. A deep, rich purple color with a sunshine orange center, this root vegetable is an absolute treat for the eyes and the taste buds.
Another ‘Imperator’ type cultivar, this homegrown wonder would provide an ideal talking point at a dinner party, or just something to brighten up your plate. Colorful veggies are what I live for – I absolutely can’t get enough of them.
‘Purple Dragon’ requires 65-70 days to harvest, with short tops reaching heights of 4-8 inches, and 6-inch roots.
Packages of 1000 seeds are available from Burpee.
A beautiful, rich red color, these long, tapered carrots are deliciously sweet. They thrive in sandy, well-drained soils.
‘Red’ roots will reach up to 6 inches in length, within 65-80 days after the sprouts start to emerge. This cultivar does best in full sun in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9.
Seeds are available in 4-ounce or 1-pound packages from True Leaf Market. If stored correctly, carrot seeds may remain viable for up to four years, so purchase a big package to plan in advance for future harvests or share with the neighbors.
9. Short ‘n Sweet
The clue is in the name here. ‘Short ‘n Sweet’ is perfect for growing in smaller pots, or in less-than-ideal soil conditions, such as heavy or poor soil that’s rich in clay or difficult to work.
This rich, sweet little root is easy to grow, and packed full of vitamins. ‘Short ‘n Sweet’ is a ‘Chanetay’ type that produces compact 4-inch roots with about 68 days to harvest.
Packages of 3,000 seeds are available from Burpee. Carrot seeds are very tiny, so keep in mind that this means you’ll be getting about 3 grams of seed, not an entire truckload!
10. Solar Yellow
These happy yellow carrots are sure to bring a smile to your face and to those around the table. This cheerful, bright yellow veggie is an ancient heirloom, and as Eden Brothers Nursery puts it, a “perfect example of why some heirlooms stand the test of time.”
The opportunity to try out fun heirloom varieties is one of the best things about growing your own veggies. This crunchy, juicy, and sweet carrot is definitely worth a grow!
Narrow, pale yellow roots max out at about 7 inches in length, and are ready to harvest as soon as 60 days after they germinate. This type is best for cool-season planting, and can be grown in sun or partial shade.
Someone was lacking some imagination when they named this variety, so it may not come as a surprise to you that this heirloom dating back to the 1930s is both tender and sweet.
This is a coreless type, making it an ideal contender for juicing and preserving, perfect for those who love to stock up on veggies for canning to make sure you can enjoy them all year round. It also freezes better than other types.
‘Tendersweet’ carrot seeds produce tapered, 7-inch roots in 75 days. This variety thrives with full sun in Zones 3-9, where it does best in sandy, well-drained soil.
Another All-America Selections winner that received the honor in 1992, this crunchy heirloom delight doesn’t need peeling – it’s ready to go straight away.
A small variety that produces round roots 1-2 inches in diameter, its size makes it a great choice for anyone growing in heavy or shallow soils, or growing in containers.
Seeds are available in a variety of quantities from a packet to 1-pound sack from Eden Brothers.
This heirloom variety is a ‘Nantes’-type carrot that’s sweet and tender, and quick to mature. Perfect for use in salads, ‘Touchon’ is known for being low in fiber.
This type grows to 6 inches in length in about 65 days.
Seeds in packets of 3,500 are available from Burpee.
Go Crazy for Carrots
With all of these beautiful carrot varieties on offer, we are spoilt (car)rotten for choice, so there’s no reason not to include them either in pots or in your veggie patch.
Do you have any experience of growing these cultivars in your garden? Let me know how you’ve gotten on in the comments below!
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via Burpee, Eden Brothers, and True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
About Natasha Foote
With a passion for soil health and growing trees, Natasha Foote is a biologist who was hit with a serious case of green fingers, and decided to swap sterile laboratories for getting her hands dirty in the soil. Formerly a farmer and researcher working with the agroforestry project Mazi Farm in Greece, when she wasn't working on the farm, she was busy studying soil biology under the microscope. Now, you can find her in the south of France where, in between enjoying all the fresh peaches, plums, apricots, and cherries that the area has to offer, she's working on various agricultural projects whilst writing about all things green.