Carrots are popular crops to add to home veggie patches. There is nothing greater than pulling out crunchy carrot roots.
But, planting root crops is a gamble, no matter how you look at it. The hidden roots leave you guessing as to whether or not your carrots are thriving. They could be their desired length, looking healthy and happy. Or, you could be faced with short, misshapen veggies. Even worse, you might have carrot rust fly infestation and not even know it.
Luckily, companion planting can save the day. From ensuring healthy soil to repelling nasty carrot flies, there is a companion plant waiting to be paired with your carrots.
Companion planting is a popular technique that aids in the health of plants, especially fruits and vegetables. Some plants can deter pests, while others attract beneficial insects to your garden. Some can even improve the soil conditions, encouraging and improving the growth of their partner.
There are also a few unexpected plants that need to be kept separate from carrots – we’ll chat about those too.
Before we get started on the best companion plants for your carrots, let’s have a recap on the best planting conditions for them. No amount of partnering will save poorly planted carrots.
Carrots can grow in almost all climates and can even face the great indoors (USDA Zones 3-10). However, they do grow best in slightly cooler climates, enjoying temperatures that average 75F during the day. The most delicious carrots grow in full sun, with their foliage taking advantage of at least six hours of rays.
Soil plays a key role in carrot health too. You’ll want to stick your carrots in rich, loamy soil that’s loose and well-draining. Carrot roots need unobstructed growing space, especially downward. Without that, the roots will be stunted. Carrots should be spaced 2 inches apart and planted in rows between 1 and 2 feet apart.
Water is also important for the health of your carrots. They enjoy frequent, consistent waterings in well-draining soil.
For a full guide on growing your best carrots ever, you’ll want to click here.
Now that we know that your carrots are thriving in the right conditions, let’s get into the best companion plants.
Companion Plants for Carrots
Chives are a super companion for carrots. This herby perennial is known to improve the taste of carrots and their shallow roots allow for undisturbed growth. Further, chives deter nasty pests like carrot flies with their oniony smell.
This herb enjoys similar conditions to carrots, thriving in USDA Zones 3-9. They too enjoy full sun, and even though they’re drought-tolerant, will appreciate the frequent watering you give carrots. The soil chives love is rich, loamy, and well-draining – perfect for your carrots.
While it may be a more than two-month wait before carrots are ready for harvest, you can enjoy your chives a lot sooner. Chives are ready for harvesting in as little as 30 days after seeds have been planted. Chives also don’t need to be harvested all at once, ensuring your carrots can enjoy all the benefits in the garden, while you benefit from their pungent flavor in the kitchen.
A mutually beneficial pair are carrots and leeks. Leeks suffer from leek moths, which are deterred by carrots. On the other hand, leeks shoo away carrot flies.
Encouraging healthy growth is also something both these root crops share. As they grow, they loosen the soil, something both plants need for a successful harvest. Even better, leeks have shallow roots, leaving respectable space for their partner to thrive.
Growing leeks is simple. They love light (at least eight hours of full sun), making them suitable for sun-loving carrots. Both carrots and leeks need slightly acidic soil that is loose and drains well. Leeks enjoy plenty of water and may require more frequent watering than carrots in warmer temperatures. However, a thin layer of mulch helps keep both plants happy as can be.
Leeks have a long growing season, sometimes stretching well past 3 months. So, you may enjoy your carrots before the leeks are ready for harvest, but you will certainly enjoy them pest-free.
For a soil-enriching companion for carrots, opt for legumes. Legumes make a great companion plant for a variety of crops. They’re an absolute must-have in every home garden. Beans, peas, and lentils are common options. Why are they so great you might ask? Well, unlike many other companion plants, where the benefits are mostly anecdotal, there is some science behind adding legumes to your garden.
Simply put, these plants help change nitrogen into a usable form for plants. Good bacteria living on the root systems of legumes aid this process. This usable form of nitrogen (ammonia) stays in the soil even after the plants die, enriching the soil for future plantings.
The increased nitrogen aids in foliage growth. More foliage means more photosynthesis. Increased energy means your carrot roots stay healthy and produce the right amount of sugars. In short, healthy foliage means delicious, crunchy carrots.
Legumes are involved in a complex process. But practically, they’re easy to care for and thrive in almost any garden and climate, depending on the type you choose. They take up little space and reward you with healthy large harvests. No matter the type, legumes love full sun and moist soil, perfect for growing with your carrots.
Onions, like chives (part of the same family), deter carrot flies with their smell. So, if you prefer strong onions over lighter chives, pairing them with carrots is ideal. Onions are biennial bulbs that can take a little practice to get right, but in the end, you’ll be rewarded with abundant carrots and onions.
Onions and carrots share the same love for full sun and regular watering. The soil needs to be rich, loose, and well-draining for onions to thrive. They enjoy cooler temperatures and will be ready for harvest in 90 days, another great reason to pair them with carrots. You’ll have the makings of a salad or burger garnish in no time.
Tomatoes are a home garden favorite for beginners and seasoned gardeners alike. There is much debate about the beneficial partnership between tomatoes and carrots. Some suggest that the nitrogen produced by tomatoes is excessive, inhibiting the growth of carrots. Others rave about the protective nature of tomato foliage and its ability to enhance carrot flavor.
Tomatoes tend to grow tall or wide or both, depending on the variety. Their thick foliage helps protect tomato fruits from sunscald (a common tomato issue). In doing so, it keeps the plant cool.
When grown alongside carrots, it’ll offer the same protection.
Tomato roots enjoy space as much as carrots do. Space these plants about 2 feet apart and in rows. These also need about 2 feet of space between them.
Tomatoes are relatively easy to grow, however, a lot goes into ensuring their success, and picking the correct variety for your region is important. Either way, both are great vegetables for your garden.
These stunning flowers attract beneficial insects, such as pollinators, but their main use is as a trap crop to lure bad insects like aphids away from your veggies.
While their pretty red, orange, and yellow flowers spice up your garden visually, they can spice up your food too. Nasturtium flowers are edible, with a peppery flavor perfect for salads.
This plant can be grown close to your carrots, enjoying similar conditions. Nasturtiums grow best in USDA Zones 2-11 and love long hours in the sun. They prefer well-draining soil whilst still appreciating weekly watering, making it a perfect companion for your carrots.
Radishes are another perfect companion plant for carrots. Common radish thrives in all USDA zones. It also flourishes in the same conditions as carrots, so much so that interplanting the two is possible.
Radishes are root crops too and as they grow, they aid in loosening the soil.
Even better, they grow much quicker than carrots, creating even more space for carrots to thrive once harvested. Radish is ready to harvest in as little as a month – ideal for impatient gardeners.
8. Rosemary and Sage
Romesmary and sage are two of the most common herbs to use as companion plants. Both have many benefits outside the garden too, but they thrive as companion plants for a variety of plants.
Rosemary and sage do well among roses and lavender, adding to your garden’s beauty if allowed to flower. The flowers attract many beneficial insects to your garden too.
But, their best quality shines brightest when used to accompany carrots.
Their scent is not only great for your nose, but it masks the smell of carrots, ultimately preventing carrot flies from finding your carrots and settling into the roots.
Both rosemary and sage thrive in similar conditions, needing full sun and soil that drains well. However, both are susceptible to root rot and can’t handle being constantly moist like carrots can. We suggest planting these herbs, together or one or the other, in pots, close to your carrot patch.
We truly are building the perfect salad or garnish with our list of companion plants. Lettuce is another great addition to your veggie patch. It has shallow roots, with the majority of the plant growing above ground. This leaves enough space for carrots to grow, whilst minimizing the total space needed for your veggies.
Lettuce grows well in cooler weather, making it a great companion for carrot growers in these regions. The vegetable is hardy in USDA Zones 2-11 though, suiting a variety of individuals.
Carrots and lettuce share a love for well-drained, rich soil, thriving with a regular watering routine.
Plants to Avoid
Dill falls high on the list of must-have herbs in your garden. It’s is a useful companion plant for a variety of vegetables.
The herb isn’t particular about soil, so long as it’s well-draining. Its need for plenty of sun and water means there is no altering your carrot care routine.
These characteristics may lead you to believe that dill makes a great companion for carrots. However, there is one reason dill and carrots should be kept far away from each other. They are both members of the same family, running the risk of cross-pollination if planted together (a problem if you’re a seed-saver). Further, carrots attract lacewings and wasps, enemy insects of dill.
Parsnips are another deceptive plant. They look almost like white carrots and thrive in similar conditions, making you believe they’d pair perfectly with carrots. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
Both parsnips and carrots attract similar pests and are susceptible to the same diseases.
When planted together, you increase the chances that a disease or pest will spread to both plants, not just one. Carrot fly is sure to swarm your garden if you decide to plant these two together.
Potatoes and carrots are another pair that don’t do well together, even though they’re both root crops. Potatoes are quite sensitive and need as many nutrients as possible. Planting these hungry plants together results in competition, ultimately reducing the yield and vigor of both.
Carrots are an easy and rewarding vegetable. Sometimes though, even the best conditions aren’t enough to ensure sweet, crispy carrots. The best way to do this organically is through companion planting. These are several of the best companion plant options for your carrots. They either deter pests or enrich soils or simply create paths for your carrots to grow effectively.