We know the feeling: your tiny house or apartment doesn’t offer enough garden space for growing veggies.
OKRA IS ONE OF THOSE.
Growing okra in containers is not only possible but a PIECE OF CAKE.
Despite being a medium-sized plant that requires a surprisingly high amount of care, it thrives in small spaces. As long as you follow our advice, steps, and recommendations – growing your okra in pots will be way easier than you think.
Ready to learn how? Then keep reading!
What’s the Best Container for Okra?
You can grow okra pretty much ANYWHERE.
That includes any type of container going from clay and ceramic pots to cement, stone, and brick planters. You can even grow them in plastic buckets or growing bags if that feels like a cheap choice.
But there’s a catch…
You need to use a container that drains well. Otherwise, you may experience a slow-growing or diseased okra that doesn’t offer any harvest. In the worst-case scenario, it will die.
That’s solvable: pick something with either holes or pores where the water can drain through. That should be enough to keep it safe.
Other container-related factors to consider include:
- A 10-inch pot would be minimum, as okra is a medium-sized plant that requires enough space to thrive.
- The container should be at least 12 inches deep. This ensures enough soil to prevent saturation and lack of space for the roots to grow.
- Pots in black and brown are better, as they retain heat more effectively for the okra to thrive.
What Okra Varieties are Better for Containers?
Planting large okra on containers won’t be the same as growing a small one. The reason is clear: bigger plants require more space, which most containers may not be enough for.
Here’s where the Dwarf varieties enter into action:
- Baby Hubba
It can get to 4 feet at its max, with no more than 24 inches of diameter. The best is how fast it grows: barely 53 days to start producing yields. You will find it ideal for cool areas.
Also capable of getting to 4 feet, this one produces okra pods as quickly as 50 days. You will also find it perfect for cool environments.
- Cajun Delight
Need to grow okras quickly? The Cajun Delight yields appear in just 50 days while barely reaching 4 feet. This also comes with its ability to thrive in cool climates.
- Perkins Long Pod
Whether you grow it in warm or cold places, it thrives. You can get edible pods in 55 days, and you can get a total height of 5 feet.
- Red Velvet
No more than 48 of diameter and hardly 5 feet in height, Red Velvet okra matures in 60 days where you can start seeing pods growing.
A maximum of 50 days is what Jambalaya needs to reach a mature state. It rarely grows over 5 feet and loves warm areas.
What Does an Okra Plant Need to Grow?
Want the okra plant to thrive? Then you need to ensure it grows in the right environment regardless of the variety of okra you’re growing. Here are some factors to consider:
Okra is a tricky plant when it comes to soil. The reason is its susceptibility to saturation and its specific pH
In other words, you need to grow okra in crumbly and loamy soil that drains well. And more importantly, they need to have a pH level between 5.8 and 6.5 if you want the okra to thrive.
TIP: Soilless mixes tend to do a great job at this, which is why many gardeners prefer growing okra in growing mediums over the soil.
The okra plant is among the hungriest, so you need to keep it well-fertilized. And for that, nothing beats a balanced liquid fertilizer.
While growing, okra thrives in moist soils. You need to water at least 4 times a week to make that possible, especially in dry areas.
But as it matures, maintaining the soil not too moist would be a better strategy. You can keep the plant dry for a week, and it should thrive. If the environment is too dry, you can always use growing mediums as they maintain humidity more effectively than soils.
TO CONSIDER: Keeping the soil with compost, manure, and mulch will increase humidity while preventing overwatering.
There’s nothing okra needs more than sufficient sunlight. If you can ensure at least 6 hours of sun exposure every day, that would be perfect for the plant.
Alongside the sun, okra also prefers high temperatures. Warm areas tend to be the best for okra to thrive on, with temperatures higher than 55 degrees Fahrenheit (preferably over 65 degrees).
You actually need to keep it over 70 degrees if you want the okra to bear a lot of fruit. If temperatures rise over 90 degrees, you may still see the okra grow as it would normally do, but it will struggle to produce pods.
WORTH KNOWING: Okra may thrive in cool temperatures only if you grow it indoors, keep it away from frosts, and maintain temperatures above 40 degrees. You can also use, grow tents to ensure a perfect environment.
How to Grow Okra in Containers: Step-By-Step Guide
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty now that you have the basics figured out. Follow these steps to grow okra in any container:
Step 1: Choose the Ideal Container
First and foremost: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT CONTAINER.
As explained above, you can use pretty much anything as long as it drains well. That’s why multiple holes in a plastic or terracotta pot would be your best bet.
Either way, make sure it is sufficiently large for the variety of okra you’re growing (at least 10 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep).
Step 2: Prepare the Container and Soil
The next step is to prepare the container with soil so you can plant the okra seeds.
Here, you need to make sure the soil drains well. As a recommendation, use sandy soil. This will keep the humidity off the roots.
Once you have that, pour it into the pot. You don’t need to fill more than 80% of the pot for okra (at least 1.5 inches between the soil and top of the pot).
Step 3: Plant the Seeds
Planting okra is also a piece of cake. But first, you need to understand that okra is a slightly tricky variety when it comes to germinating – so you need to do it right starting.
Here are some tips to consider:
- Don’t sow the seeds deeper than 1 inch.
- Moist the soil as soon as the seeds are planted. Keep it moist.
- Warm temperatures (over 60 degrees Fahrenheit) boost the germination speed.
- Don’t plant okra seeds less than 12 inches apart.
- Leave the pot with the seeds under the sun or grow light if possible.
This is for seeds. You may also decide to start from a seedling directly from a garden nursery. In that case, don’t worry too much about humidity. Instead, focus on getting the seedling to receive as much sunlight as possible.
Step 4: Move the Seedlings
As the seeds germinate and the seedlings grow, you will need to move them into the sunniest place in your home.
If you’re in an apartment, take the okra seedling into the balcony so it can receive at least 6 hours of light.
For houses, keep them close to windows or in roofless areas where sunlight can hit directly for the same number of hours.
Like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, they need A LOT of sunlight exposure when growing from seedlings. If you can ensure that, the plant will grow faster and healthier.
Step 5: Let the Seedlings Grow
There’s not much else to do for now. Letting the seedlings grow will probably be your best bet.
But there are still a few things to consider:
- Don’t overwater in this period – try to water a maximum of 4 times a week
- Keep the container in a warm location for the seedlings to acclimate faster
- Don’t fertilize until the seedlings are totally established (2 weeks after the seedlings appear)
These tips will keep your okra growing without much fuss. Just remember, okra grows pretty much by itself as long as you can maintain temperatures high. There’s not much to worry about.
Step 6: Harvest
As the plant grows and the pods appear, you can then start to harvest. This is also a pretty straightforward process.
As a general rule, start by picking tender pods (they feel soft and fat). Stay away from the hard, small, and fibrous pods.
Most ready-to-pick pods are between 3 and 6 inches long. Because you’re likely growing a dwarf variety, try to get them no sooner than 20 days after the first blossom appears.
INTERESTING FACT: Okra has one of the most beautiful white flowers from a vegetable that you’ll see. The blossoms boast black and yellow marks. This will tell you when the plant is ready to produce fruit – which it will do within the next 10 days.
How to Take Care of Okra in Containers?
The plant will grow, you will harvest it, and it will keep growing for long. You will have the chance to keep harvesting for years (maybe even a decade or more).
To ensure this happens, follow these general care tips:
- Protect from Frosts and Cold
In case of temperatures ever get below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you must take the plant indoors. Growing it inside a grow tent or similar area will be an excellent idea.
The same happens when you’re in winter and frosts start to fall. To avoid any damage, you should keep it inside and under a roof.
Just remember to keep the plant receiving sufficient sunlight during the day. Otherwise, the plant will likely suffer anyway, and your okra pods may never appear.
- Fertilize Properly
Fertilizing your okra consistently will help with growth and fruit production. But nothing will keep it thriving, like mixing the soil with compost and manure.
This will maintain the pH levels perfectly for the okra to thrive. You will have a more challenging time controlling where it goes with fertilizers, as high nitrogen content in most fertilizers makes the soil more acidic (which could cause the okra to struggle).
REMEMBER: Using too much nitrogen is never helpful. In fact, you should avoid overfertilizing in case the okra is healthy and thriving already (only fertilize if the conditions change).
- Ratoon the Plant
Believe it or not, cutting the okra plant from the bottom may help it produce more yields next season.
This is mainly recommended when the plant fails to produce pods due to extremely high or low temperatures (also with dry or humid areas).
- Prune if Needed
Just like ratooning, you will need to prune the okra from time to time. This will promote further fruit production, especially when it is slowing down.
As a general recommendation, avoid pruning if the plant is smaller than 5 feet. This will prevent any possible damage.
- Keep Mulch Around
Okra doesn’t require much humidity, but it still prefers slightly moist areas over dry ones. Maintaining its soil with mulch may help improve humidity which eventually aids in pod production.
KNOW THIS: Hot summers and dry climates will cause the okra to slow down growth and not produce any pods. You can consider watering more consistently and add the mulch to increase humidity and avoid stunted growth.
- Avoid Weeds, Pests, and Diseases
Even though growing okra in containers is way healthier than growing it in crops, there’s still a high chance of pests and diseases.
To avoid that, follow these tips:
- Use companions plants like pepper, cucumber, basil, and cabbage to prevent weeds, pests, and diseases.
- Don’t place okra plants closer than 3 feet.
- Move the okra between seasons to avoid pests and weeds from growing into the container.
- Remove dead leaves and stalks as soon as they dry up (they may cause disease)
- Don’t forget to use pesticides when you see insects like aphids around
Okra is still a pretty tough vegetable, so you may not need to worry. But it’s still worth taking action before it’s too late.
Harvest to Promote Growth
Harvesting when the plant produces pods is essential to keep its production high. Preferably, you will harvest as soon as the pods achieve a decent length.
As a best practice, you will simply not wait until the pods get too thick and stiff. Instead, you will harvest as soon as it’s ideal, so the remaining pods don’t get old and suck away precious resources from growing ones.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Is it different to grow okra in containers than in gardens?
Yes, most container okras tend to produce denser foliage but smaller stems. This surprisingly increases yields per square foot and helps you get more pods from a single plant.
Q2. What seeds to choose for growing okra in containers?
You should pick seeds from small-growing varieties, preferably dwarf ones. More specifically, you should stay away from seeds that come from diseased plants. Pods that seem to be harvested from struggling okras will not be too suitable for growing. Focus on choosing the healthiest specimens instead.
Q3. When is it too late to pick okras?
The best way to tell whether an okra pod is ready is to break its tip. If it takes a lot of work to break it, that means the pod is either too young or too old. But if the tip breaks easily, that speaks of tenderness.
Q4. Can you transplant okra into a garden?
Okra is a tricky plant to move from pot to garden (or vice versa). This is due to the okra’s root system that extends broadly. Given the root is wide and long, it is likely to struggle to get comfortable in new soil (potting or garden soil).
It won’t be too complicated or too expensive – growing okra in containers will be the best thing you start today.
As long as you follow every single piece of advice above, your experience will be as straightforward as it can be. Given how tough and fast-growing okra is, you will actually get quicker and better results than you may think.
But don’t rush… Take it easy and follow our recommendations to the letter. That should keep you from making mistakes.
Either way, the time to grow okra is NOW!