Regrowing for Beginners:
Grow vegetables from food scraps

Do it yourself

Is everything in the organics bin really waste? Not necessarily! Many vegetable scraps can sprout again under the right conditions. This sustainable trend, known as "regrowing", ensures less kitchen waste and turns your windowsill into a small vegetable garden. In this tutorial, we show you how to give new life to spring onions, romaine lettuce and herbs.



You don't need a garden or balcony to grow vegetables, because a bright spot on the windowsill is perfectly adequate. You won't be able to cover your total vegetable needs by regrowing alone, but it's fun to watch the plants grow and experiment with different types of vegetables.

You want to learn more about plant growth?

Why does the spring onion continue to grow? What is vegetative reproduction?
Why does a plant even need seeds? All these questions are answered in the additional information below. You will also find links to information material that we have found online on the topic!


  • Suitable for age group: 6 years and older

  • Especially interesting for: Hobby gardeners, plant lovers and all those, who like to eat vegetables

  • Preparation time: 10 min preparation + a few minutes every day to take care of the plants


  • You need:

  • Vegetable scraps (e.g. root end of spring onions, lettuce stalk)

  • Jars or glasses

  • Planter

  • Potting soil or growing soil

  • Some tap water

  • Bright place on the windowsill


Spring onions

Spring onions are great for beginners in regrowing, as you will be able to see results after a short period of time.

Step 1: Preparation

Cut off the bottom 5 cm from a spring onion (with the roots) using a knife. For the growth of the spring onion it is advantageous if the roots are still fresh and strong. The upper part of the spring onion you can use for cooking or for a salad.

Step 2: Water

Put the ends of the roots in a container filled with tap water and leave them for about 5 days in a bright place, for example, on the windowsill.
The water should be changed daily so that the roots do not begin to rot.

Step 3: Replant

After a few days, the roots will become stronger and you can plant the spring onions in the soil. Especially suitable is potting soil, because it is low in nutrients and therefore the roots will form more strongly. Make sure that the roots are completely covered with soil, but the upper part of the plant still peeks out.


It is not necessary to transplant the spring onions in soil. They also grow back in the water container, but the taste becomes less intense due to the lower nutrient supply.

Step 4: Harvest

Soon you can either harvest the entire spring onion or cut off the green part with a knife and let the rest sprout again.


The same principle can be used to grow leeks.

Romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce is a versatile and popular type of lettuce that is very suitable for regrowing.

Step 1: Preparation


To regrow romaine lettuce, you will need the stalk of the lettuce. You should separate it from the remaining leaves with a straight cut. The stalk of the lettuce should still be about 5 cm high, because if it is cut shorter, this makes it more difficult to resprout.

Step 2: Water


The lettuce stalk also goes into a container with water, so that about half of the stalk is immersed in water. Find a bright place for your lettuce by the window and change the water at least every 2 days. After about a week, fine roots can be seen on the stalk.

Step 3: Replant

Once you can see the roots, it's time to plant the lettuce in the ground.
Here it is important that the regrowing leaves are above the ground.

Step 4: Harvest

Soon you will be able to harvest the small leaves that grow out of the stalk.

Herbs: Mint

Regrowing herbs requires a little more patience, but on this principle you can grow a variety of plants. In the supermarket, herbs are often sold in plastic packaging. Since you often only need small quantities of herbs, it is especially worthwhile to grow them yourself and harvest them as needed.

Step 1: Preparation

Herbs can be propagated with the help of cuttings. For this purpose, different herbs are suitable, for such as rosemary, basil, or mint. Use a knife to cut off a strong shoot about 10 cm long. If you make the cut below a branching point, you make it easier for the plant to form roots.

Step 2: Water

Place the shoot in a small bottle/vase with moderately cold water. The lower end of your shoot should always be in the water and the water should be changed regularly. It usually takes a while until the first roots appear. It may be helpful to remove some of the upper leaves to speed up rooting.

Step 3: Replant

Observe your cutting. When roots form, it should be planted in soil. Again, growing or herbal soil is recommended. You can remove withered leaves. If the cutting is well supplied with water, a new plant can grow soon.

Have fun
regrowing your food!

Learn more!

Why does the spring onion continue to grow?

For a plant to grow, it must have tissue capable of dividing (meristematic). These division-capable cells are present in the lower shoot parts of spring onions and also in lettuce stalks. When the cells are supplied with water and nutrients, they can give rise to completely different cell types, and this is how parts of the plant regrow. Since each cell contains the entire genetic information of a living organism, root, shoot or leaf cells can be formed and the vegetables continue to grow!

How does a plant reproduce?

Some plants can reproduce on their own. This type of propagation without the formation of a seed is called "vegetative" reproduction. Genetically, this means that the new plant is a clone of the parent plant, i.e. it carries exactly the same genetic material. A very well-known crop that is almost exclusively vegetatively propagated is the potato. When potatoes are grown, tubers are planted in the soil and a new potato plant develops from these tubers.

Then why does the plant actually need seeds?

In the garden center you can find bags of seeds for growing various vegetables. From these seeds, with good care, a new plant grows, because the seeds contain all the genetic information of a plant that it needs to form roots, leaves, shoots, flowers and fruits. In the case of reproduction by seed, the genetic information is a mixture of the genetic information of a mother plant and a father plant. In contrast to vegetative reproduction, this is called "generative" or sexual reproduction. The advantage of this generative reproduction method is that it provides more diversity than vegetative reproduction by mixing genes.

Naturkundemuseum Bayern
Botanisches Institut
Menzinger Str. 67
80638 München, Germany


Phone: +49 (0)89 178 61-411
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sonstige Anfragen:

Phone: +49 (0)89 178 61-422
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

© Naturkundemuseum Bayern