When you think of growing carrots, you probably picture a somewhat triangular orange root veggie that’s loved by rabbits and improves vision. Those things are mostly rooted in myth – carrots are actually quite colorful, aren’t really loved by rabbits, and won’t clear up blurry eyesight (but their vitamin A contents can help your eye health). They’re still a delicious addition to your garden, and you can improve your vegetable garden with carrot companion plants!
Many plants can improve your carrots, but carrot plants have a lot to offer, too. Their long roots can keep the soil aerated and draw up nutrients from deep in the ground.
They don’t take up much space, so you can poke seeds into the ground almost anywhere to make the most of your space. Let’s dig into companion plants for carrots so you can learn how to make the most of this sweet root veggie!
What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a deceptively easy way to make your garden more efficient. Practically speaking, companion planting is choosing plants that benefit each other and planting them together to help each other grow stronger and manage pests.
Many gardeners love to use gardening methods like companion planting for trap cropping, often in the form of planting flowers near veggies so pests will go to the flowers and leave your food alone. Flowers will also draw beneficial insects and pollinators, which will help your crops be more productive.
Try planting a companion nearby if your veggies aren’t tasting their best. Leafy greens sometimes taste better when planted next to legumes since the legumes produce nitrogen, which greens need plenty of. However, companion planting of certain brassica plants near bush beans can be detrimental to both plants. That’s where the trickiness of companion planting comes in.
Companion planting also provides a built-in support system that will make your garden feel more cohesive since all the plants work together. Gardeners like to plant pole beans and peas with sunflowers or corn for natural trellises.
Sowing seeds for plants with shallow roots at the base of taller plants will help you make the most of your space and provide ground cover that will keep the soil cool and covered to help the bigger plants stay healthy. You can also companion plant fast-growing plants next to slow-growing plants to serve as natural row markers to remember where you planted things.
There are numerous reasons to incorporate companion planting into your garden, especially if you’re limited to small beds or grow bags.
Good Companion Plants For Carrots
Carrot companion planting is versatile and hard to mess up because they agree with so many plants! There are a few combinations to avoid – and we’ll get to those in the next section – but the possibilities are nearly endless.
Planting to Prevent Carrot Flies
Some of the best companion plants for carrots are those that deter carrot flies. The carrot fly lays its eggs near the roots of carrots, parsnips, parsley, celery, and dill. Once the larvae emerge, they eat root hairs and eventually grow big enough to eat their way into the roots. If you cut open an infested carrot, you’ll see many tunnels dug out by the larvae!
Growing chives and other allium family members like garlic, leeks, and onions alongside carrots is a great choice. All are great companion plants and deter pests like cucumber beetles. It’s believed that planting these all around your carrots are your best bet to keep the carrot fly (also called a carrot rust fly) at bay. Sage and rosemary will also keep them away.
Marigolds repel aphids and deter many other pests, so they’re great to add to every part of the garden! Avoid attempts at companion planting marigolds with the parts of your vegetable garden that contain cabbage and beans, as the flowers may slow their growth.
Another great deterring plant for companion planting with carrot plants is nasturtium. They repel a variety of pests, but they also act as a trap crop. Pests will be drawn to the nasturtium instead of your carrots. You can let them do as they wish on the nasturtium or use it as an opportunity to eliminate them.
Nasturtium benefits the entire garden, so consider planting them all around your veggie patch. However, avoid companion planting nasturtiums near fennel plants as they don’t get along very well.
Preventing Compacted Soil
Since carrots have deep roots, planting them near shallow-rooted plants will prevent them from getting compacted but will also provide excellent air circulation. Pop some carrot plants near greens and brassicas like kale, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts. The carrots will help draw nutrients to the top of the soil and make the leafy veggies much more delicious.
Small radishes are also a good shallow option to plant with carrot plants. Small radishes germinate faster and develop quickly, so if you plant carrot and radish seeds simultaneously, the radishes will loosen up the soil and make it easier for carrots to develop. You’ll harvest the radishes before they can interfere with the carrot growth. They’re some of the best companion plants for that reason!
Shady Carrot Companion Planting
Carrots like the shadier areas of the garden, so plant them underneath taller plants like cherry tomatoes and jalapeno peppers. You can prune the taller companion plant so the carrot tops have plenty of space to keep the airflow regulated and the roots won’t hinder each other.
Carrot Companion Planting For Nitrogen-Fixation
Legumes such as peas, lentils, or all sorts of beans like lima beans, soybeans, mung beans, fava beans, chickpeas, or even pole beans are good companion plants to growing carrots. They provide nitrogen and, in turn, healthy soil where carrots can grow. Providing your carrots with loamy soil full of the nutrients they need to thrive will give you a great head start to the growing season. Carrots also help the legumes by attracting ladybugs, which eat aphids that will feed on the legumes (and the rest of your garden).
Carrot Companion Planting For Pest Management
Planting herbs next to your carrots is usually a good idea. Although some exceptions exist, most herbs excel at repelling pests and can attract beneficial insects that will eat carrot flies! Cilantro will do the latter, and oregano will ward off nematodes and may even improve carrot flavor. Basil is also known to improve the flavor of carrot roots, too.
Carrot As Helper
Planting tomatoes in your carrot bed may help tomatoes produce more fruit as the carrots aerate the soil around your tomato plant. Carrot also helps a tomato plant produce more flavorful fruit as the root crop opens up space for more nutrient uptake and healthy growth. The tomatoes even attract parasitic wasps that feed on both plants’ pests.
A carrot plant is also an excellent companion plant for leeks, and the reverse is true too. Carrot is a good companion plant for leeks because it deters leek moths, and leeks are great for carrots because they deter carrot flies. If you have a lower-growing carrot variety, the leeks can keep your carrots shaded in sunnier conditions too.
What Not To Plant With Carrots
While there are many companion plants you can grow with carrots, some plants should be kept far away from your carrot crop because they’ll do more harm than good. Let’s review the plants that won’t work well with your growing carrots.
Carrot Fly Attractants
While one plant may be useful as a companion plant in that it attracts beneficial insects, it may also attract the carrot fly to your garden vegetables. This isn’t a problem with some root crops, but your carrots need to be planted elsewhere, as some plants are bad carrot neighbors.
The plants you should be most concerned about are the ones that the carrot fly loves: celery, dill, parsnips, and parsley. Carrot flies will lay eggs near these plants, and the roots will be destroyed by larvae, as will your carrots. If you plant these next to a carrot plant, you’re only giving the pests more food and shelter, and you’ll give yourself a bigger headache!
Dill poses another problem aside from attracting nasty pests in the form of carrot flies – it can cross-pollinate with carrots and produce seeds that will produce gross-tasting carrots! You won’t really be able to tell if the plants have cross-pollinated, so you won’t know until you bite into a carrot next year and are greeted with bitter root crops.
In general, it’s best practice to avoid planting along with other vegetables and herbs in the same family as carrots as they’ll cross-pollinate. The seeds will then grow carrots that aren’t desirable. They also attract the same diseases and pests. Therefore, start your garden plan with carrots leading the way, and avoid adding other Umbelliferae in the same bed.
Root Crops Competing For Space and Nutrients
While it may be a way to maximize space in a few instances, carrots grow underground, and planting root vegetables together isn’t always the best idea. Avoid planting carrots with other large root crops. Small radishes like the Early Scarlet Globe won’t be an issue because they have relatively shallow roots and only grow to be about 1-inch tall and wide.
But other plants with larger roots, like Daikon radishes, parsnips, and potatoes, will compete for space and nutrients and hamper carrots’ growth, causing your carrots to become misshapen or unhealthy. The top nutrient these root veggies will compete for is phosphorus, which is responsible for big, healthy roots. If you have lots of roots eating up this nutrient, you can imagine that everything will turn out small and weak.
Potatoes and fennel should be kept away because they can attract the same pests carrots do, along with other pests that wouldn’t have otherwise been a problem! Fennel attracts many beneficial insects, but it also attracts many pests. Therefore, depending on what you’re growing, it may be best to keep it away from the entire garden if possible. Consider growing it in a container that you can move around if you’re unsure how far away it needs to be.
If you have limited garden space and must plant potatoes and fennel in the same bed as your carrots, try planting them on opposite ends and plant your carrots with a companion that repels pests. It’s even better if you plant it next to a plant that deters similar pests, like those pesky flies we talked about.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What should not be planted near carrots?
A: Don’t plant dill, celery, parsnips, fennel, or other large root vegetables near carrots. They attract pests and compete for nutrients and space that your carrots need.
Q: What grows well with carrot?
A: Carrots grow well with lots of different plants: nasturtium, legumes, tomato plants, peppers, leafy greens, small radishes, and members of the allium family, like onions and leeks.
Q: Do carrots like marigolds?
A: Carrots and marigolds are a great pair because marigolds repel pests like the carrot root fly that will eat carrots.
Q: Can I plant carrots with tomatoes?
A: Carrots love tomatoes, so, yes! Carrots like the shade produced by large tomato plants, and the carrot taproot won’t disturb the tomato roots.
Q: Can you plant basil with carrots?
A: Basil and carrots can be planted together, and the basil may even improve the flavor of the carrots.