okra

Growing Okra In Containers

Last Updated on June 13, 2022 by Real Men Sow

Many people believe that okra cannot be grown in their area because it isn’t tropical. Okra is a tropical, warm-season vegetable. However, you can grow okra in containers so that the plants can be brought inside when the temperature drops.

Okra is not only a great vegetable, but it also has gorgeous foliage and showy blossoms. It can be used as an ornamental or edible plant. Here’s how to grow okra indoors.

How To Grow Okra In Containers

The Right Okra Variety For Containers

Choose the right kind of okra before you plant it. Different varieties of okra grow at different heights and produce different-colored pods. Look for dwarf okra plants under 5 feet in height. You can grow all varieties, but dwarf okra plants will produce the best results when the container’s dimensions limit root growth.

You’ll need a variety that matures quicker if you live in a region that isn’t tropical or warm. These are the best okra varieties to use in containers:

Best Okra Varieties To Grow In Containers

  • Baby Bubba Hybrid
  • Dwarf Blondy
  • Cajun Delight
  • Perkins Long Pod

Best Container Size For Growing Okra

The size of the pot you choose will determine how successful you are at growing okra in containers. Okra is a large root vegetable, so you will need a pot that can hold them. The pot should be at least 3 gallons large, with a minimum of 10-12 inches in depth and a similar diameter.

Okra loves heat so black is the best color for pots. If the pot is dark-colored or black, it will absorb more sunlight. It’s important to line the container with gravel and make sure there are drainage holes. A plate or tray should be placed underneath the pot.

Where to place containers to grow okra

It is best to place the large pot in its exact spot before filling it. Okra needs full sun for proper growth, usually 6-8 hours. Some varieties thrive with as little as 10 hours of sunshine.

Correct Potting Soil for Growing okra

Okra loves well-draining soil. Soggy feet can cause rotting and death. A soilless potting mixture with organic matter is an excellent choice to fill your containers. You should use soilless mixes that contain equal amounts of sand and peat moss.

Before you place the plant in the compost, make sure to add lots of compost or aged manure. A constant supply of nutrients is essential for the plant. They thrive best in soil that has a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. However, they can tolerate soil as high as 7.6. Use potting soil and not topsoil. Potting soil should be loose and light. Topsoil can become compacted, which will hinder drainage and root growth.

When To Plant Okra In Pots

Okra doesn’t like frost or cold weather. If you live in an area with first and last frost dates, make sure to wait until the frost danger passes before you plant the seeds.

Before you can plant, the temperature must be between 55-60 degrees consistently. It is possible to grow Okra all year round if you are located in USDA zones 9-11. It is possible to grow okra in any tropical or subtropical area around the globe. To plant a pod in the north, it might be necessary to wait until June middle to plant. Within two months, pods will appear.

Plant The Okra Seeds In Containers

Okra’s extensive root system means that they won’t transfer well. This is something you need to keep in mind. You will likely encounter a root-bound plant when you attempt to transplant them. This can lead to shock and death.

Planting Okra From Seeds

In each container, sow 2-3 okra seeds 1/2 inch to 1 inch deep. To help your seeds germinate, water them well with a hose. Keep the soil moist until germination occurs. Germination takes about 5-10 days. However, the faster they germinate, the more warm the soil and the weather. Place okra plants 12-18inches apart.

Planting Okra From Seedlings

You might consider planting seedlings if you see them at your local nursery. Okra seedlings are delicate because of their taproots. You need to take care when transplanting them into your garden beds.

You should dig a hole in the garden bed slightly deeper than the container where they were grown. When you plant, they should be at least 1/2 inch deep. Gently take the seedlings out of the pot and place them in the hole. Each plant should be spaced 12-18 inches apart. Fill the hole with soil and press the soil in place. To help roots grow, make sure to water seedlings well.

What Are The Best Companion Plants To Grow Okra 

Your planter might look empty because the okra must be placed far apart. Complementary plants can be helpful in promoting the growth of your Okra.

  • Lettuce – Withstands the sun and still provide fresh greens for your salad.
  • Radishes – Radishes are a root crop that helps keep soil loose. They also provide another edible salad.
  • Mint– Repels flea beetles and smells wonderful!
  • Peppers – You won’t have the ability to grow pepper plants unless you have a large container. However, they can repel stink bugs and deter cabbage loopers.
  • Nasturtiums – Deter flea beetles visiting your okra plants and attract pollinators.
  • Beans – Great for getting rid of stink bugs from your okra.

General Care For Okras in Containers

One reason that people love to grow okra is that they’re relatively easy plants to maintain. They don’t require much care, so here is what you need to remember.

Watering Okras

Okra plants require a mixture of moist and slightly damp soil. Regular watering is important for your plants. Okra plants are resilient to dry spells but they thrive if they get at least 1 inch of water per week.

You will need to water more during the flowering period as well as at the end of the production. Before you water, make sure to check the soil. It doesn’t matter if the soil is wet at least two inches below the surface. If the soil is dry, you should water it. Once your plants have established themselves, you will only need to water them once a week, but make sure to do it regularly.

Feeding

To provide nutrients for your plants, mix composted manure (or compost) into the soil at the beginning. For additional nutrients, you can side-dress your plants using compost during the growing season.

Adding a balanced, granular fertilizer to the soil at the time of planting is a great choice. It should be well mixed into the soil. You can add another dose of balanced fertilizer to the plant when it is 6 inches tall. Avoid too much nitrogen in your soil. It can encourage vegetative growth instead of fruiting. Balanced soil is desirable. You can feed your plant a fertilizer with low nitrogen levels later in the growing season.

Mulching

Mulching is a smart move because it helps soil retain moisture. Mulch can reduce the frequency you have to water if you live in an area with hot summers. These plants can withstand drought but it is important to keep the soil moist to ensure optimal growth and production.

How To Harvest Okra 

It is important to remember that okra plants need regular and frequent harvesting. Blooms take around 2 to 3 months after they are planted. Expect to wait another week for fruits to appear after the flowers have begun to appear. Okra can be cut and replanted. 

How Long Does It Take For Okra To Flower

Okra flowers almost every day. Each flower self-fertilizes, so there is no need for pollination. It takes between 7-10 days for the flower to mature. Pick the pods as soon as they are tender. You can make it difficult to eat if you leave them too long. Each pod should measure between 3 and 5 inches in length.

Signs That You Can Harvest Your Okra

You can see the first pods you can harvest at the base of your plant. They gradually move up. You can harvest the pods from the top of your plant at the end of the growing seasons. To remove the pods from the plant, use pruning shears. It is important to check on the plant every day. It takes only a few extra days for the pods to become tough and almost inedible. They have thick hairs which will eventually fall out unless you get spineless okra. Since it is not easy to keep the hair in place, gloves and long sleeves are a smart choice.

Common Pests & Diseases On Okra

Okra is not prone to many diseases and pests. The biggest problem Okra has with cold weather is usually cold. However, you need to be ready for anything that may come your way.

Fusarium Wilt

A fungal infection can quickly kill your crop. The leaves can become wilted and eventually die. Plants can become stunted or even die from severe infections. Fusarium wilt is more likely to grow in warmer temperatures and there are no cures.

Charcoal Rot

This fungal infection can cause discoloration at the soil line and eventually, cankers. The leaves will wilt and eventually fall off. Unfortunately, this fungus is not curable once it has spread. To prevent it from growing in the soil, it is best to practice crop rotation.

White Mold

The other fungus can cause a cottony fungal growth and small dark green lesions on your plants’ leaves, branches, pods, and roots. The lesions become longer over time. White mold can survive up to five years in soil. Rotate your crops regularly to avoid over-application of nitrogen fertilizer. It is also a good idea to space rows evenly.

Cucumber Beetles

Cucumber beetles can cause stunted plant growth and leaves damage. The symptoms can look similar to bacterial wilt and may leave scars on your fruit. Cucumber beetles tend to be brightly colored, with a yellow background or black spots. To protect your plants, you can use floating row covers. Kaolin clay is also effective for small infestations. Insecticides may be useful.

Loopers

These pests can cause severe damage to the leaves, often causing large or minor holes. Cabbage loopers appear pale green and have white lines along their bodies. Natural enemies can usually be used to keep the loopers under control. To kill young larvae, Bacillus Thuringiensis can also be used.

Root-Knot Nematode

They can cause galls to form on the roots which will result in a decrease in plant growth. In hot weather, they can also cause plants to turn yellow. If you suspect that Nematodes might be present in your soil, make sure to plant resistant varieties or you can check the roots during the middle of the growing seasons. The solarization of the soil can help reduce the number of nematodes.

Final Thoughts On Growing Okra

For new gardeners, it is easy to learn how to grow okra inside containers. Okra grows well in almost all regions. If you live in colder climates, it is smart to grow okra inside pots.

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