By Sarah Wilson
Picking the best companion plants for carrots is an easy way to boost your produce and get flavorful, sweet and crunchy results. They're a great choice to get started on if you're new to companion planting as they work well with many other plants.
Companion planting is a way of maintaining a natural balance in your garden, aiding pollination and keeping pests under control. Many companion plants are strongly scented which puts pests off their tracks. Companion planting is organic too, and if it's done properly with the right crop planted next to carrots, it will help support them and increase your harvest.
When it comes to learning how to grow carrots, some plants work to improve their growing conditions, whereas others can limit or inhibit their progress. Knowing the right companion planting combinations can help you prevent common carrot diseases, at the same time as increasing yield and flavor.
It's all about improving conditions that favor carrots and discouraging anything that doesn't lead to a stronger crop. Our guide to companion planting for carrots includes everything you need to know.
Why should you use companion plants for carrots?
Growing carrots as part of your raised garden bed ideas is simple. They like a lot of sun and loamy soil that's easy to penetrate, as they are a root vegetable that develops underground with fern like foliage sprouting out of the top. They also like sunshine so won't thrive if taller crops put them in the shade.
In terms of beneficial partners, the main thing to do when it comes to the best companion plants for carrots is to look for ones that deter beetle larvae, aphids, and carrot flies.
Carrot fly is the main pest that attacks carrots – a small black-bodied insect that feeds on the roots leaving black gouges that invite disease. The good news is that companion plants can help deal with these pesky flies by masking the smell of the growing carrots that attracts them in the first place.
Best herb companion plants for carrots
Strongly scented Mediterranean herbs are great deterrents for bugs as they mask the smell of the carrots that is so attractive to pests. Plus, these plants will attract beneficial insects, which will increase pollination as well as munching up nasty pests – a win-win.
Chives are one of the best deterrents for carrot fly. What's more, growing chives with carrots has the added benefit of improving their flavor, as well as boosting productivity: carrots not only taste sweeter, but grow faster if they're planted with chives.
Chives also have relatively shallow roots so don't compete for space with the carrots. They happen to be one of the best companion plants for tomatoes, too.
Strongly scented rosemary deters carrot flies as well as other detrimental pests. The fragrance is overpowering to flies and other bugs, and confuses them in their search for carrots. Just bear in mind that rosemary bushes can grow quite large, so be sure to plant them where they won't steal the sunlight from your crop.
Our guide on how to grow rosemary is full of useful tips for a natural and organic way to control pests.
Carrots love parsley as it attracts beneficial insects that give them a growth boost. If you let your parsley go to flower, it will attract hoverflies which are great pollinators for carrots, while the larvae of hoverflies eat many pests such as aphids and mealybugs. The strong smelling leaves can also help to prevent carrot flies.
The strong smelling leaves of mint can help to prevent carrot flies by confusing them. This puts them off their scent, so it's a beneficial herb to grow as a companion plant as it will repel harmful insect pests and help protect your precious carrot crop.
Our guide on how to grow mint will show you just how simple it is to do so. Just remember that it's best to contain mint, as it's an invasive plant and will spread like wildfire if you don't restrain it. Try dotting several pots of it throughout your carrot planting.
Sage is a great herb to plant in your vegetable garden due to its pest repelling qualities. It's also a natural way of attracting pollinators to your garden. And, of course, it has many uses in the kitchen.
It deters carrot flies with its scent. Plus, it doesn't need much water, leaving the moisture for the carrots to absorb. Planting sage with carrots is also thought to enhance the flavor of carrots.
Best flower companion plants for carrots
There are some gorgeous flowers to choose that can help boost your carrot crop if you plant them as companions. They're a great way to beautify your kitchen garden ideas, too.
Beautifully scented lavender is a must in any vegetable garden. It attracts a range of pollinators, including bees, butterflies and hoverflies. Its strong fragrance can also act as a deterrent to aphids.
If you plant lavender with carrots it will confuse predatory pests and lead to a much happier outcome in terms of your harvest. Our guide on how to grow lavender has plenty of tips.
Fast growing common marigolds are called calendula and can be annuals or perennials. They are also known as pot marigolds. They emit a strong scent that will repel greenfly and blackfly so they are a popular choice for the veg plot.
Calendula are often used as a companion plant in the vegetable garden to lure other pests away from the vegetables. In fact, they're one of the best companion plants for cucumbers, too. They also attract beneficial insects – including ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies – which prey on aphids, so help to protect your carrot crop.
Nasturtiums make a good companion plant for carrots and a wide variety of other garden vegetables as they help to get rid of aphids, beetles and other pests. Nasturtiums also attract a range of pollinators to increase the diversity in your garden.
Plus they look great, adding a pop of hot orange, red and yellow to your veg plot. Simple to grow, they're on our list for the best plants for beginners, too.
Best vegetable companion plants for carrots
Want to add diversity to your veg beds? These picks will happily grow alongside your carrot crop, and will benefit it too.
Tomatoes and carrots are good friends, and growing tomatoes next to carrots enhances the flavor of the carrots quite dramatically. Just be sure to leave a bit of a gap so your tomato plants don't swamp them.
What's more, tomatoes produce a chemical called solanine which is a natural defence mechanism against insects such as beetles.
Our tips on how to grow tomatoes is a good place to start, and will help give your summer salads a lift.
Leeks' strong scent works as a deterrent to carrot flies and other pests, and also deters aphids. In fact, the whole allium family works in the same way when it comes to carrots. This includes onions, garlic, chives, shallots and scallions.
Carrots grow underground, while lettuce has shallow roots and lots of leaves on the surface of the soil. This makes lettuce great for companion planting with carrots.
The big leaves of lettuce help to cool the soil. They also keep the carrots shaded if the weather is hot. Plus, they'll prevent invasive weeds encroaching on carrot plants, as the leaves block out light efficiently.
What not to plant with carrots
Although carrots are happy to grow alongside lots of other crops, there are some that they don't get along with, so try to avoid them.
Some varieties, such as other root crops, will compete for space, light, water, and soil nutrients. Or in some cases, they'll attract insects that are detrimental. So, when choosing companion planting for carrots, stay clear of the following:
- Parsnips belong to the same family as carrots, so they're vulnerable to the same pests such as carrot fly. Planting them together can lead to a pest explosion.
- Potatoes are also root crops and require high levels of phosphorus in order to thrive and planting root vegetables too closely together will lead to competition and neither will get what it needs. So, using them as companion plants for carrots is not a good idea. Don't let that put you off learning how to grow potatoes though – just keep them a good distance apart from your carrot crop.
- Coriander and dill are said to release chemicals which can stunt the growth of your carrots. If dill is allowed to flower it can cross-pollinate with carrots, leading to poor-tasting hybrids.
Sarah Wilson has been a lifestyle journalist for many years, writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, as well as Country Homes & Interiors and Modern Gardens magazines.
Her own (small urban) garden is a work in progress - so many ideas, not enough space to cram them in. Hero plants include her ever growing collection of ornamental grasses, black bamboo and ferns, and the perennials like salvias and penstemons that come back reliably year after year. All very restrained though when in fact she'd love to pack her garden with gaudy dahlias and giant cannas, so these are top of her wish list for what to grow next.
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