Easy to grow from seed and packed full of flavor, a crop of long orange carrots are a common sight in both the vegetable garden and on the dinner plate. But did you know that there is actually more than one type of carrot?
In fact, the carrot comes in a range of shapes, sizes and colors. Their flavor can also vary greatly. If you want to learn about this most versatile of vegetables, this guide to the different types of carrots will take you through some of the most attractive and flavor filled varieties currently available. The varieties outlined below are suitable for growing in a range of different gardens, soil types and climates.
These popular vegetables come in a range of shapes, sizes and colors.
Different Types of Carrots
There are many different types of carrots. To make it easier to choose between them they are usually divided into 4 main varieties. These are:
Additionally, you will also find mini and colorful varieties.
Short and stout with a conical root, the Chantenay carrot is a resilient specimen capable of powering through heavy clay or rocky soils far better than other types of carrots.
The Chantenay typically has a bulkier shoulder than other varieties. While the root starts wide, it typically tapers down to a blunt end. Best harvested as soon as they mature, when they reach around 7 inches in length, the Chantenay can become fibrous and woody if left in the ground for too long. Storing well, Chantenays are popular for their rich flavor.
The following are some of the most popular Chantenay carrot varieties.
The Chantenay carrot is more compact and conical in shape than other types of carrots.
Caracas is a reliable cultivar that is often grown as a baby carrot. Popular for its deep orange color, Caracas roots are reliably uniform in shape and full of flavor. Most Caracas roots reach about 4 inches long.
Hercules is one of the most resilient types of carrots, capable of thriving in even the most difficult conditions. This includes growing in rocky or heavy clay-like soils. Like many varieties of Chantenays, Hercules roots have distinctly broad shoulders. They are typically ready for harvest within 65 days of sowing the seeds.
A broad, heart shaped carrot, Oxhearts thrive in sandy soils. An heirloom variety, Oxheart seeds can be hard to find. However, their sweet, rich flavor makes searching well worth the effort. Growing to 6 inches in length, the Oxheart carrot is usually ready for harvest within 3 months.
4 Short ‘n’ Sweet
As the name suggests Short ‘n’ Sweet is a small, compact cultivar. It is ideal for growing in container gardens, small pots and heavy or difficult soils. Easy to grow, the sweet, small roots are rich in both vitamins and flavor. Like other Chantenay types of carrots these aren’t the biggest, Short ‘n’ Sweet carrot roots are usually 4 inches long. Short ‘n’ Sweet is mature and ready for harvest 65 to 70 days after the seeds germinate.
One of the more eye-catching types of carrots, Red is popular for its long, tapered red roots. Sweet and flavorsome, the Red carrot thrives in sandy, well draining soil. Here, with a little care and encouragement, the roots can reach up to 6 inches long.
Happiest when growing in a full sun summer garden, Reds are hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 9. They are typically ready for harvest 65 to 80 days after sowing the seeds.
6 Shin Kuroda
Developed in Japan, Shin Kuroda is, like many varieties of Chantenay, pleasingly tolerant of planting in poor soil. One of the most versatile types of carrots, Shin Kuroda is better for eating fresh and juicing than other varieties of Chantenay. It is also more heat tolerant than other Chantenay carrot varieties.
As the name suggests the Danvers carrot was developed in Danvers, Massachusetts. These are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, making them ideal for new and nervous gardeners. As well as orange roots, older varieties in shades of purple, white, red and yellow can also be found. Danvers types of carrots are rich in both flavor and color.
In terms of appearance, the Danvers variety is the classic carrot. A medium length root with round shoulders and a pointed tip, most Danvers roots grow to a length of 6 to 7 inches. Danvers varieties tolerate heavy and shallow soils far better than Imperator varieties. These varieties are popular for their orange color, rich flavor, coreless root and ability to store well.
In terms of appearance, Danvers is the classic carrot.
7 Danvers 126
An heirloom cultivar, Danvers 126 was first developed in the late 19th century. It remains popular amongst borrowers today for its easy growth habit and sweet flavor.
One of the most versatile types of carrots, Yellowstone roots can reach up to 9 inches in length. When cut open the carrot is revealed to be a pleasing lemon-yellow shade throughout. Yellowstone varieties typically mature, meaning that they are ready for harvest, within 70 days of sowing seed.
Imperator types of carrots are both impressive to look at and rich in flavor. Capable of growing up to 10 inches in length, the roots are sweet and full of sugar. Best planted in loose, deep soil, Imperator roots may struggle to reach their full length in heavy or rocky soils.
Imperator carrot types are also suitable for growing in deep containers, planters or carrot bags if your soil is poor. Alternatively, shorter rooted varieties such as Tendersweet are ideal for growing in shallow conditions or smaller containers.
One of the largest types of carrots, Imperators require at least 1 ft of space to grow to their full size. As long as you have enough space, these are an easy to grow cultivar. Many of the baby carrot varieties sold in grocery stores are Imperators picked before reaching their full size.
Imperators can grow to be large and flavorsome.
The following are amongst the most commonly grown Imperator varieties.
9 Imperator 58
A classic heirloom variety, Imperator 58 is a reliable all-rounder. One of the larger carrot types currently available, Imperator 58 roots can grow up to 9 inches long. Packed full of flavor, many professional growers favor Imperator 58 over other varieties because it is both reliable and versatile. Best planted in loose soil, Imperator 58s are usually ready for harvest 65 to 70 days after sowing the seeds.
10 Atomic Red
Red in color, unlike other colorful types of carrots, Atomic Red keeps its color even after cooking. The long, tapered roots of Atomic Red can reach up to 11 inches long if planted in favorable conditions and loose, stone free soil. Atomic Red roots are usually ready for harvest around 70 days after sowing the seeds.
Sweet in flavor Candysnax roots have a pleasing snappy texture. Long and slender in appearance the roots can reach up to 12 inches in length when fully grown. The Candysnax carrot is ready for harvest 65 days after sowing seeds.
12 Purple Haze
Purple Haze types of carrots are typically ready for harvest 70 days after sowing the seeds. Popular for their purple color and sweet flavor, Purple Haze roots are best eaten raw, such as in salads, where their color is at its best. The color may fade slightly when cooked. When cut open the center of Purple Haze is a rich, contrasting shade of orange.
Colorful crops add interest to the garden and dinner plate.
13 Red Samurai
Bright red in color, Red Samurai is popular for its sweet flavor. Rich in color, even after steaming, this eye-catching crop is pleasingly easy to grow, adding colorful interest to both the garden and dinner plate.
Another of the many heirloom types of carrots on our list, Tendersweet roots are both sweet and tender. A coreless type of carrot, Tendersweet is ideal for juicing or preserving. It also freezes well, making it a popular choice for people who like to store their surplus crop.
Tendersweet roots are ready for harvest within 75 days of starting the seeds. Mature roots are around 7 inches long. Best planted in sandy, well draining soil and full sun, Tendersweet is hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 9.
15 Purple Dragon
One of the increasingly popular purple types of carrots, Purple Dragons has a rich purple outer skin. When cut open the center is a contrasting bright orange. A reliable cultivar, Purple Dragon is usually ready for harvest within 65 to 70 days. The roots are typically 6 inches long, while the green tops can be between 4 and 8 inches tall.
Another of the many easy to grow varieties, Nantes are both crisp and sweet. Smooth and cylindrical in appearance, the end of the edible root is more blunt than pointed. Practically coreless, Nantes types of carrots are great for both eating and juicing.
An heirloom variety which is native to France, these types of carrots thrive in loose, well draining soil. Nantes cultivare are less likely to twist and split than other types of carrots, Nantes cultivars can also be planted in rocky or heavy soils.
Nantes are smoother in shape and the end is blunter when compared to other varieties.
The following are some of the most commonly grown Nantes varieties.
Sweet and tender, Touchon is an heirloom variety which is quick to mature. Typically the orange roots are ready for harvest just 65 days after sowing the seeds. Low in fiber, Touchon is a popular ingredient in fresh salads. In favorable conditions, Touchon roots can grow up to 6 inches long.
17 Little Fingers
Little Fingers is one of the quickest types of carrots to mature. The roots are usually ready for harvest within 55 days if planted in favorable conditions. An heirloom variety, Little Fingers may be small in size but what it lacks in size it makes up for in sweet flavor. Because it is a small variety, Little Fingers can be planted densely together, making them ideal for planting in small spaces. You can also sow the seeds close together for a large harvest.
Little Fingers thrives in sandy, well draining soil and full sun. These types of carrots are hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 9.
Bolero carrot varieties are popular for their sweet flavor. This is retained even when stored overwinter. Reaching 7 inches in length, when grown from seed Bolero roots are usually ready for harvest around 75 days after sowing.
19 Cosmic Purple
A striking variety, Cosmic Purple, with its violet colored skin and contrasting orange center, is an increasingly popular variety. Further adding to this variety’s popularity is the fact that it retains its color after cooking. Reaching 7 inches long, the Cosmic Purple cultivar can be ready for harvest 73 days after sowing the seeds.
Rich in antioxidants Cosmic Purple can be used in soups, salads, as a snack or juiced or pickled.
A bright orange carrot, Napoli can reach up to 8 inches in length. Ready for harvest after 2 months of steady growth, Napoli is a reliable variety that produces rows of smooth, uniform roots. When mature the Napoli carrot has a crunchy, juicy texture.
Mini Carrot Varieties
Sometimes called the radish style carrot, the mini carrot has been developed to grow in poor soils or shallow conditions. This makes them ideal for small spaces and container gardens. They also grow well in rocky and heavy soils.
The Mini carrot is typically smaller than other varieties.
A crunchy heirloom type, Thumbelina, is increasingly popular because, unlike many types of carrots, it doesn’t require peeling before use. One of the smaller varieties Thumbelina roots are 1 to 2 inches in diameter.
Like other smaller varieties, Thumbelina is a good choice for growing in heavy and poor soil or in containers because it requires less growing space. Like many other varieties Thumbelina can also be grown in containers, undercover in a greenhouse or cold frame during the winter months.
Sometimes allowed to grow larger, Babettes can be harvested when they are around 4 inches in length. Like other small types of carrots, Babettes are often served whole.
Slightly longer than other mini carrot varieties, Mignons can reach up to 5 inches in length. Ideal for snacking or growing in small spaces. Children can also enjoy growing and harvesting these small roots.
Hybrid cultivars are a deliberate mix of two or more different varieties of carrot. They are bred to be reliable and uniform. Most hybrids are capable of growing in a range of conditions.
24 Deep Purple Hybrid
One of the best standout types of carrots, Deep Purple Hybrid is, as the name suggests, an entirely purple carrot. This adds ornamental interest to the garden as well as the dinner plate. Popularly eaten raw, where it’s intense purple color can be appreciated fully, the color often fades when cooked. Deep Purple Hybrids can reach 7 to 8 inches in length when fully grown. This is usually 75 to 80 days after sowing the seeds. The tall green fronds can grow up to 2 ft above the developing roots.
25 Purple 68
Popular for their bright purple color, Purple 68 types of carrots are rich in antioxidants. Mild and sweet in flavor, they can be cooked or enjoyed raw. Like other hybrids the Purple 68 carrot is a reliable, cool weather crop. The foliage also adds ornamental interest.
As well as the cultivars highlighted above these reliable vegetables can also be divided into groups depending on their color. Interestingly, the orange carrot was a deliberate creation by 17th century Dutch breeders.
Solar Yellow is a bright yellow carrot. Another of the heirloom Danvers varieties, Solar Yellow is a sweet carrot. Crunchy and juicy, it is a popular ingredient for fresh or raw dishes such as salads. An ideal cool season plant, the 7 inch long roots are typically ready for harvest just 60 days after sowing the seeds. A versatile variety, Solar Yellow thrives in both sun and partial shade positions. This reliable yellow carrot is a great way to spice up stir fries and salads.
Lunar White is a sweet and tender, heirloom variety. Maturing in 65 to 80 days depending on the growing conditions, the white roots can grow to around 6 inches long. Hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 12, this variety does best in sandy, well draining soil. Lunar White also prefers a slightly acidic soil. A pH level measuring between 6 and 7 is ideal. If you are unsure, a soil test kit is a quick and easy way to find out the pH level and general condition of your soil.
A popular choice is the Kaleidoscope Mix. A great way to get children to eat vegetables, the Kaleidoscope Mix comes in five different colors, including Atomic Red, Solar Yellow and Cosmic Purple. Like other types of carrots these are easy to grow. When mature, around 80 days after terminating the seeds, the roots can measure about 8 inches in length.
A rainbow mix, showcasing the different carrot colors.
Carrot Growing Tips
An annual vegetable, gardeners in cooler climates who don’t enjoy an extended growing season are advised to select types of carrots that are quick to mature. You can also grow the crop undercover in containers as part of a winter vegetable garden.
Most carrot varieties do best in light, well draining soil. Many of the varieties listed above are also able to grow in more challenging conditions. Alternatively, you can also grow your carrot crop in planters or grow bags such as Little Clover 5 Gallon Potato Grow Bags. Made from a breathable, heavy duty fabric, these bags can be used year after year, enabling you to grow a variety of crops in even the smallest of spaces. Simply fill with fresh, balanced potting soil and start planting.
Easy to grow from seed, carrot seeds are best started in the final growing position. Like potatoes, these are a root crop, meaning that they dislike being disturbed or moved. If you want to get an early start on the growing season, start your carrot seeds undercover in small, individual biodegradable Peat Pots. Once the soil has warmed up sufficiently and the last frost date passed the growing seeds can be transplanted, still in their pots, into the final growing position. The pots then break down as your crop grows.
To extend your growing season, sow a handful of seeds every two weeks. This is known as succession planting and is a great way to ensure a steady supply of fresh vegetables..
Keep the area around the growing plants weed free. There are a number of useful weeding tools that help you to do this without disturbing the growing plants.
Water only when the soil starts to dry out. Watering too frequently can encourage carrot fly. If you struggle with working out exactly how wet your soil is, a soil moisture sensor is a great investment.
Thinning out the seedlings too early can also encourage this pest. If carrot fly is a particular problem in your area, cover the growing crops with a Huouo Garden Insect Net. This fine mesh protects your plants from problematic pests while still allowing moisture and light to penetrate down to soil level.
Keeping the soil around the growing plants clear and weed free helps to protect against carrot fly.
For more on growing all types of carrots, check out our How to Grow Carrots guide.
Colorful and easy to grow, many types of carrots are suitable for planting in a range of different growing conditions. Why not add some to your vegetable garden?