Companion Plants for Carrots

Carrots are one of the trickiest, but most rewarding, vegetables to grow at home. Try companion planting techniques for a more successful carrot crop this year.

April 05, 2021

Carrots aren’t the easiest veggies to grow, but when you pull that first crunchy, sweet, and flavorful root from the soil, from the first bite you will know that it was well worth the effort. Give carrots their ideal growing environment and experiment with companion planting to improve yields of healthy and delicious homegrown carrots.

Harvesting Carrots

Harvesting Carrots

Photo by: Kendall Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens

Kendall Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens

What is Companion Planting?

Companion plants can improve the health or productivity of a desired crop. The root of companion planting is plant diversity. By growing a variety of crops rather than just a few species, you will be able to fill more niches in the garden ecosystem and improve the growing environment for your crops, including those in your vegetable garden. Not all companion plants fill the same role. Depending on the species, companion plants may build and improve soil quality, repel pests, attract beneficial insects, or improve disease resistance.

Carrot Companions

  • Onions repel carrot rust fly and aphids and attract predators of the carrot rust fly. Strong-smelling onion relatives, like garlic and chives, may work as well. This partnership works both ways — onions grown with carrots tend to have less damage caused by thrips.
  • French marigolds (Tagetes patula) deter carrot rust fly and carrot psyllid. Growing carrots with marigolds also increases the sugar and carotenoid contents of carrot roots.
  • Pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis) repel nematodes and carrot psyllid and may also develop sweeter roots rich in healthy carotenoids.
  • The fragrant herbs thyme and basil discourage yellow-striped armyworm caterpillars from defoliating carrots.
  • A living mulch of subterranean clover suppresses carrot rust fly and decreases cavity spot (Pythium spp.) disease.
  • Carrots grown after a cover crop of phacelia, buckwheat, sunflower or mustard may be more productive.
  • Carrots need deep, loose soil to develop healthy taproots. If you have compacted clay soil, try a cover crop of buckwheat, forage radish, or ‘Appin’ turnip to break up the clay and improve soil structure.

Tips for Growing Carrots

Carrots can be an array of colors, including deep purples, reds, yellows, whites, and the traditional orange. There are even varieties of bicolored carrots with a different colored core. Taproots also vary in terms of size and shape, from long and cylindrical to short and rounded. If you have struggled with pests or diseases in the past, try growing a resistant variety.

'St. Valery' French heirloom carrot

Carrot 'St. Valery'
Seed Savers Exchange

'Purple Haze' hybrid carrot

Carrot 'Purple Haze'
National Garden Bureau

Carrot 'St. Valery'

The non-profit Seed Savers Exchange says ‘St. Valery’ was mentioned in gardening literature as early as 1885. This heirloom has red-orange roots that grow to 12 inches, with a fine-grained flesh and sweet taste. 'St. Valery' keeps well in storage.

Carrot 'Purple Haze'

Eye-catching 'Purple Haze' carrots won an AAS award. This is an Imperator type carrot (a carrot with long, tapered, straight roots). The bright purple skins hide bright orange interiors; the colors fade in cooking.

Photo By: National Garden Bureau

'Deep Purple' hybrid carrot

Carrot 'Deep Purple'
National Garden Bureau

'Lunar White' heirloom carrot

Carrot 'Lunar White'
National Garden Bureau

Carrot 'Deep Purple'

Sweet-tasting and tapered, ‘Deep Purple’ carrots grow to 7 or 8 inches long. They’re dark purple inside and out, although the color fades when the carrots are cooked. Try quickly stir-frying them to preserve the color.

Carrot 'Lunar White'

Some seed sellers say that white carrots were grown as far back as the Middle Ages. Today, the cream-colored roots of ‘Lunar White’ offer cooks and gardeners a mild flavor and small cores. While carrots with colorful pigments are thought to offer more health benefits, this variety is a good source of dietary fiber.

Carrots prefer to grow in cool weather, which makes them great candidates for spring and fall gardening. Northern regions may grow carrots through the summer, and warmer regions may grow through the winter. Carrots have very specific growing requirements. For instance, these taproot forming veggies don’t like to be moved, so plan on sowing seed directly into the garden rather than transplanting a carrot plant that has already taken root.

Soil preparation is key for healthy root development. Ensure soil is loose and free of stones that could impede growing roots. If you struggle with rocky or compacted soil, carrots also grow well in raised beds and large containers. Sow seeds about a half inch deep, lightly covering the small seeds with soil. Keep an eye on watering until seedlings emerge and establish — carrot seedlings do not tolerate dry conditions well.

It’s a good idea to thin young plants so there’s plenty of room for roots to form. Early or small rooted varieties may have closer spacing requirements, so follow the instructions on the seed packet. Try to snip leaves at ground level rather than pulling thinned plants up from the roots to avoid damaging the remaining plants. The carrot rust fly is attracted to damaged carrot foliage, so remove thinned seedlings rather than leaving them behind in the garden. Carrots should be ready to harvest within 60 to 80 days, depending on the variety.

Where to Buy Vegetable and Flower Seeds

Find out where to buy your vegetable, flower and herb seeds based on a variety of important factors, including widest selection, most heirlooms, organic seed and regional varieties.

Tips for Crop Rotation

  • Grow carrots with their relatives: parsnips, parsley, and cilantro. Plants that share a family tend to be susceptible to the same pests and diseases. Cultivating related plants in a different area of the garden each season will prevent diseases and insect eggs from building up in the soil.
  • Carrots are happy to follow heavy feeders like solanaceous crops (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers) and brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale) on the crop rotation schedule.

Next Up

Companion Planting for Tomatoes

Learn what companion plants to grow alongside your tomatoes to improve tomato plants' health and boost your harvest.

Companion Plants for Beets

Beets are relatively easy to grow but they can benefit from being planted before and after certain other garden crops.

Companion Planting for Okra

Boost your okra harvest by planting with companion plants, plus learn about creative ways to use okra in the garden.

Companion Planting for Onions

Onions are easy to grow and so ueful in the kitchen. Learn what other vegetables and herbs grow well with onions in the garden.

Companion Planting for Eggplant

One of the most beautiful vegetable garden plants, eggplant can be plagued by pests like flea beetles. Try companion planting techniques to protect your eggplant crop.

Best Companion Plants for Cucumbers

Discover companion planting techniques to boost your crop of cucumbers and avoid common pests like cucumber beetles and squash bugs.

Companion Planting for Sweet and Hot Peppers

Homegrown sweet and hot peppers top most gardeners' wish lists for the summer garden. Learn companion planting techniques that may protect your peppers from pests and boost your harvest.

Companion Planting With Cilantro

Cilantro serves as a powerful companion plant in the vegetable garden, attracting beneficial insects that prey on insect pests of a variety of crops, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, beans and more.

Companion Planting for Broccoli

This cool-season crop attracts just as many gardeners as it does pests. Learn some companion planting techniques to ease the pest pressure on your precious broccoli crop.

Companion Planting for Potatoes

Discover best garden companions for potatoes, from beans to barley, plus get potato planting and growing tips.

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