Okra is a tall annual vegetable with attractive flowers. It loves to grow in hot gardens with plenty of moist soil.
If you have the right climate and rich well-draining ground, you are already on the path to producing wonderful okra plants.
But did you know there are natural ways to get your plants to grow even better? In this article, we’ll show how okra companion plants can help you to produce a healthy and bountiful harvest.
What is companion planting?
Grouping plants together which help one another is known as companion planting. It’s not a new way of growing, but it’s been getting more popular as the interest in organic food continues to rise.
It means you shouldn’t need to reach for the chemicals to control insect pests. The natural processes encouraged by companion planting will do it for you.
It’s also a way of enriching the soil, as plants contribute different nutrients. Beans, for example, add nitrogen which can help other plants to grow.
Plants that grow well together also benefit each other by the way they grow. A tall vertical-growing plant such as okra can provide support and protection for others. Low growing leafy vegetables can shade the roots of other plants.
In this way, plants help each other out. Neat eh?
How some companion plants work
One of the most commonly used companion plants is the marigold. If you plant marigolds in your veggie patch, they will attract insects that eat pests such as aphids.
Marigolds will also attract the aphids themselves, meaning they won’t be eating up your precious vegetables. They are often known as ‘sacrificial’ plants for this reason.
However, you’ll find that even under attack from pests, marigolds can thrive surprisingly well! They are an essential part of an organic vegetable garden.
What about okra companion plants?
So which companion plants grow well with okra? We’ve included some tried and tested planting combinations for you below.
Don’t forget that what you can grow will depend on your local conditions. Soil type, drainage and climate will affect which plants thrive.
Okra loves a warm climate. Try different combinations where you live and see what works best for you.
Okra companion plants: which are best?
You’ll see that many okra companion plants like similar conditions to okra – makes sense right? Putting plants together that like the same things is the first step to awesome companion planting.
Okra is a tall plant that can reach 6 feet, so make sure there is enough space between your okra and your companion plants. Sun-loving vegetables shouldn’t get too much shade. Sometimes though, the shade okra casts can be a benefit.
Best Okra Companion Plants
Both melons and okra love plenty of sun and water, so these two make great companions. Make sure your okra doesn’t cast too much shade on the melons. You can do this by planting melons on the east side of your okra for morning sun, or on the west side for afternoon sun.
Cucumbers make great okra companion plants. They love lots of water and a sunny spot, the same as okra. Make sure there is enough room between your cucumber and okra plants because cucumbers need lots of sun to ripen up.
Peppers of all varieties make great okra companion plants. Okra can stop gusts of wind breaking the more fragile pepper plants. In return, pepper plants help to put off cabbage worms which love eating okra leaves. This combination is a win-win.
Growing eggplants as okra companion plants will help to enrich the soil. These beautiful purple fruits release potassium, one of the three key nutrients that most plants need to thrive, along with nitrogen and phosphorus.
Like beans, peas help to improve the soil by fixing nitrogen. This can help plants like okra to grow better. The timing of these two vegetables works well. You’ll harvest your peas as the weather starts to hot up, just as the okra gets growing, so they shouldn’t compete with each other.
The bright yellow of sunflowers attracts aphids away from your crops. Planting these beautiful sunny plants around your vegetables is a great idea. They work well when you grow them with okra, peppers and tomatoes.
This beautiful aromatic herb works to repel aphids, spider mites, flea beetles, and whiteflies from your okra plants. Position your basil plants six inches apart so that they have space to grow into, around the base of your okra.
This is a companion planting combination where the plants help each other by the way they grow. Okra shades the lettuce. In return, lettuce chokes out weeds around the base of the okra. There is little competition for nutrients because lettuces have shallow roots.
We mentioned tomatoes above, and they make excellent okra companion plants teamed up with peppers and lettuces. Add sunflowers for a beautiful display of companion plants. Tomatoes help okra by repelling stink bugs.
Companion plants: what not to plant with okra
Avoid growing okra in places where you’ve had sweet potatoes or squash growing. These plants encourage nematodes in the soil.
Nematodes are microscopic creatures that can often be helpful in the garden for dealing with pests. But in some cases, they attack plants. Okra roots are particularly susceptible to nematodes.