Homegrown carrots are much more flavorful than store-bought. If you want the best crop you’ve ever had, consider companion planting with carrots. Some herbs, veggies, and flowers will enhance the flavor and others help repel pests.
Let’s be real. Carrots can be a little fussy and take up quite a bit of real estate in the garden. So anything that makes growing them easier is worth it.
If you’re ready to plant some carrots, and want to make the best of your crop, let’s talk companion planting with carrots.
Good Companion Plants to Grow With Carrots
First, let’s look at the vegetables that go well with carrots.
This is a classic combination and works for a number of reasons. Both plants help each other out and should be the first duo to consider.
Tomatoes produce solanine which is a chemical that repels a number of pests. Carrots, on the other hand, attract a parasitic wasp that attacks tomato hornworms and caterpillars.
Direct sow carrot seeds when you transplant tomato plants. Try planting tomato plants in the center of the garden bed, and plant the carrots toward the edge of the garden. This way the tomatoes can provide a little shade to the carrots, but not cover them completely.
Make sure you provide the carrots with plenty of water or the tomatoes will take it.
Carrot flies are a pest that can decimate a carrot crop. Onions emit a sulfuric odor that repels these pests.
Onions take longer to reach harvest, so timing is important when combining them with carrots. Sow carrots two to three weeks after the onions. Make sure the onions are six inches away so you won’t disturb the carrots if you harvest the onions first.
Onions are a shallow-rooted plant, but you don’t want to disturb your carrots when they take a while to grow.
3. Bush Beans
If you put fertilizer in the carrot patch that is too high in nitrogen, you will end up with cracked carrots. The beauty of bush beans is they slowly release a form of nitrogen from their roots.
This should help to keep the carrots healthy and maximize the yield. When you plant the carrot seeds, plant the bush bean seeds at the same time. Keep the beans about six inches from the carrots and make sure you take the sun into account. You don’t want the beans to prevent the sun from getting to the carrots.
Beets don’t provide great benefits to carrots, but they do help a little bit. They don’t have any negative effects, so in the world of companion planting, that’s a bonus.
Beets loosen the soil as they grow, which enables carrots to grow bigger.
Plant both carrots and beets at the same time, but be wary of the green tops of beets. They can grow quite big and can shade the carrots.
Keep beet and carrot rows at least 10 inches apart and you have a happy team.
People used to consider turnips an old-fashioned crop, but new varieties are sweet and have wonderful flesh for eating. Turnips are a shallow crop compared to carrots, which can grow much deeper depending on the variety.
Some turnip greens have a mustard odor that repels pests like certain species of aphids.
Try sowing Japanese-type turnips at the same time as you sow carrots. The Japanese type is generally smaller, so you won’t disturb the carrots when you harvest them.
Keep the turnips at least six inches away from the carrots when planting them as companion plants.
Cabbage is a low-growing brassica, but can grow a bit wide. I plant cabbage and sacrifice the outer cabbage leaves to lure away pests from the carrots.
Although cabbages don’t do anything for carrots, they don’t do them any harm and can handle their outer leaves being eaten more so than carrots can handle the tops being eaten.
Give carrots plenty of space because some cabbages grow 18 inches or more across.
Like onions, leeks repel carrot flies due to the odor they give off. They may keep other pests away by masking the smell of carrots as well.
Timing is key to planting carrots and leeks together. Leeks are a long-season crop, needing up to 150 days to mature. You may mound your leeks as well to blanch them if you have a variety that requires this long.
Sow your carrot seeds when you transplant the leeks. This way you should get two carrot harvests while the leeks continue to grow.
When you harvest the first crop of carrots, use that time to mound up your leeks. Then, plant your second crop of carrots.
Keep carrots at least 12 inches from the base of the leeks when using these as companion plants.
Although lettuce doesn’t add benefits to carrot harvests, it does no harm. Lettuce also doesn’t take up much space and is a very light feeder, which suits carrots well.
For this reason, you can plant carrots and lettuce close together at about four inches apart, especially if you have pic-and-come-again lettuce you regularly keep small.
If you plant one-crop lettuce like an iceberg, give a little more space because you will need to harvest it before the carrots.
Scallions are a swift-growing crop and suit carrots because they have shallow roots and very little foliage. Like other alliums, scallions deter pests thanks to their odor. They also maximize space in the carrot garden.
Leave six inches between the rows of carrots and scallions, or better yet, plant the scallions around the perimeter of the carrot bed to maximize their pest defense properties.
Herbs That Grow Well With Carrots
If you prefer to go the herb route, there are lots of options for planting them as companion plants for carrots:
Oregano contains strong essential oils like carvacrol and thymol. Nematodes and various fly species hate them and are deterred by oregano.
Many gardeners believe oregano enhances the flavor of carrots when they are planted together. They certainly go well in the kitchen at harvest time.
Direct sow oregano at the same time as carrots. A good method is to plant the carrots in rows and then plant oregano at each corner of the carrot patch. Make sure to leave at least 12 inches from the oregano and the carrot they are closest to.
Although I wouldn’t recommend parsley family (Apiaceae) companions for carrot plants, cilantro is an exception due to the benefits it provides the carrots as they grow.
If you allow cilantro to bolt to seed, the flowers are like a forcefield for carrots. Cilantro flowers attract predators to the carrot fly, aphids, nematodes, and rust flies.
Cilantro likes cooler weather like carrots, so plant them both at the same time as companion plants.
Rosemary is a companion plant to keep at a reasonable distance from carrots. It gets large and can shade anything around it, and can be very deep-rooted.
Rosemary masks the smell of carrots and deters carrot pests.
Plant rosemary on the very edges of the garden where you plant carrots, or in a garden right next door.
Sage is good for us and good for carrots too. Sage deters cabbage moths and nematodes. It can grow large in some environments, so treat it like rosemary and give the carrots plenty of space.
In warmer areas, sage can be a great annual that you trim back in winter and regrow in the spring.
Flowers That Grow Well With Carrots
Most people think veggies and herbs when they think about companion planting, but if you have a carrot crop, there are also flowers worth having around.
Marigolds are the star of companion planting. They get on with just about anything including carrots. If you want to deter carrot rust fly and psyllids, marigolds will do that, and provide a burst of color among the greens of carrot tops.
Marigolds can take up to 100 days to mature so plant them before the carrot seeds. Wait for them to push through the surface so you know where you planted them. Plant carrots at least 12 inches from the nearest marigold.
Daffodils aren’t the flower you would normally think about when planting carrots, but they really are useful, as well as pretty.
Daffodils are poisonous to deer, mice, and squirrels. The bulbs have a taste and odor hated by rodents. For this reason, it’s a good idea to plant daffodils around the outside perimeter of your carrot garden to stop rodents from tunneling into the garden.
Plants to Avoid When Growing Carrots
Not all plants get along, so here’s what to avoid:
As yummy as fennel is, carrots do not like it, so don’t use fennel as a companion plant. Fennel produces chemicals in the soil that can stunt the growth of carrots. Fennel also attracts a lot of pests, so it’s best to keep them well away from your carrots.
Coming from the same family as carrots, parsnips attract the same pests and diseases. It’s best to plant them at a distance from each other.
This includes pumpkin, cucumber, squash, and watermelons. All of these plants take up a lot of space, eat a lot, and will smother carrots quickly.
Dill is a member of the carrot family and so is likely to attract the same pests and diseases so they make terrible companion plants. It also releases a compound in the soil that isn’t beneficial to carrots.