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Fresh Plants from Vegetable Scraps

Fresh Plants from Vegetable Scraps

It’s almost magical, the way some fruits and vegetables regenerate if you put their heads or feet in water – and an exciting process to witness. In some cases, you’ll actually be able to harvest new produce – and at the very least, you’ll be growing vibrant houseplants.

Your young scientists can measure growth every day and then chart their data on a graph. Or chart several different plants on the same graph to compare growth rates.

So instead of composting your vegetable scraps ….

Basil, Mint, and Cilantro

Many herbs are easy to bring back to life. The stem of the herb should be at least 3 inches long. Place it in a glass of water and wait for the roots to form. After about a week, plant in a pot.

Celery, Fennel & Lettuces

Cut an inch or two from the base and place in a bowl of water on a sunny sill. Once you start to see new growth, give it at least a week before potting.

Green Onions & Leeks

Cut about an inch above the roots and place in a glass of water.

Onions & Garlic

Given enough time on your kitchen counter, these guys will regrow whether you like it or not. Once you see the beginning of new growth, submerge everything except the new shoots in soil.

Sweet Potatoes

Stick toothpicks around a sweet potato and rest on the rim of a glass, so that only the bottom half of the sweet potato is submerged. It’s ready to plant once the roots are about 3 inches long.


Potatoes seem to be itching to grow within days of coming home from the grocery store. Cut off a chunk of potato around the “eyes” where growth has begun and submerge, “eye” up, in soil. In about 2 weeks, you should see new growth. Make sure you plant in an area with plenty of space.

Carrots & Beets

Carrot and beet tops don’t produce new carrots, but the leaves make lovely edible houseplants. You can use carrot greens as you would parsley, and beet leaves in salads. Cut the carrot or beet 1″ from the base, submerge halfway in water and place in a sunny spot.


Actually getting fruit from a salvaged pineapple floret might be a long shot, or certainly take a long time, but just seeing the plant regrow is pretty cool. Hold onto the leaves firmly and twist carefully to remove the stalk from the fruit. Remove the lower leaves and any pineapple flesh and place in a glass of water. It might take a month before your new pineapple plant is ready to move to a pot. Make sure you keep the water clean and ample in the meantime.