Okra is a nutritious vegetable that has many culinary uses, making it a popular vegetable among home gardeners. The leaves, seed pods, and seeds from the plant are all used as food. Can okra be grown successfully in containers if you do not have outside space or need to manage the growing environment?
Okra can easily be grown in a container and requires relatively little maintenance. A warm daytime and nighttime temperature are needed for the plant to thrive, but it can be grown indoors. A wide-base container of 10 to 12-inch or 25 to 31cm in diameter is a good size for this plant.
Okra likes a warm climate, but its preferred growing environment can be created by growing it in a container or pot in a warm, sheltered spot. You can ensure success growing okra by choosing the best container, soil, and location.
Can Okra Be Grown In A Container?
Most gardeners consider Okra to be a vegetable, and like most other vegetables, it can be grown in a container. Considering that okra can be a large plant, it is important to choose the right container and give the pant the right care to get a good harvest.
Okra grows naturally in West Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and South East Asia. All these regions have hot summers and mild winters, perfect for growing okra.
Due to the size of okra plants, it is generally recommended that they are planted in their own container without any plants cultivated in the same container. If your growing space is limited, there are several dwarf varieties of okra that grow to about half the size of the standard variety.
Best Container For an Okra Plant
Okra plants are not fussy about the type of container used to house them, but the shape of the container has relevance due to the size of the plant.
You can use plastic, ceramic, or terracotta pots to grow okra, but choose a pot that does not taper to a narrow base. Straight-sided containers with a wide base are the best choice for growing okra to prevent them from becoming top-heavy and toppling over.
A fairly large container or pot with a diameter of 10-inches to 12-inches or 25cm to 31cm in diameter is a good size to use for okra. The pot must have holes at the bottom to provide sufficient drainage to prevent the okra plant’s roots from becoming waterlogged.
Okra can grow taller than most people expect and can reach heights of between 3 feet and 5 feet or 1-meter and 1.5-meters. Ensure you have the space to cater to the height of these plants.
Best Soil For Growing Okra In A Container
Okra does not need special soil, so a standard good quality potting mix is a good growing medium choice. Do not add soil to the potting soil mix because you do not want the potting mix to become compact and restrict drainage.
The potting mix for okra should have a good amount of vermiculite or perlite to promote water retention but avoid water logging. Okra is very susceptible to root rot, which will set in very quickly if the potting mix is not well-drained.
A top-dressing of well-aged compost is a good method to keep the plant well fed in the container. The compost can have animal manure as an ingredient if the plant is well established. If you are growing the okra from seed or planting a seedling, do not use compost with animal manure to prevent burning the young plants.
How To Care For Okra In Containers
A great aspect of growing okra is that it is self-pollinating, so you can get a crop from growing a single plant in a container.
If growing from seed, soak the seeds overnight in warm water to soften the hard outer shell and stimulate the germination of the seed. Plant the seed ½ inch to 1-inch or 1.5cm to 2.5cm deep in the potting mix. The seeds will take 2 to 12 days to germinate.
The soil in the container must be kept slightly moist uniformly throughout the container. As the plant begins its flowering stage, through to the end of the growing season, the okra requires more frequent watering.
Okra needs full sun and warm conditions, but temperatures that are too high or too low can slow the plant’s growth. Okra has a temperature range in which it thrives and will produce flowers and fruit, which is between 75°F and 95°F or 23°C and 35°C.
The plant will grow as long as the lowest nighttime temperature does not drop below 50°F or 10°C. This means you can plant okra in its container at the end of winter once there is no chance of frost, but it will only bear fruit in the summer.
If you top-dressed the container with well-aged compost when planting the okra, it would not need feeding throughout the growing season. However, you should monitor the plant if it is located where it receives rainfall, as this can leach nutrients from the container.
If you need to feed the okra plant during the growing season, do not use nitrogen-rich compost as it will cause the okra to produce rich foliage but few flowers.
Okra will begin to flower about two months after flowering, and the pods will start to appear about 2 to 4-days after the flowers.
Harvest the pods frequently from the plant to keep the plant producing more pods. If the pods are left on the okra plant too long, they begin to harden and are no longer good to eat. If the pods are too old, they become fibrous and tough.
To check if the pods are still good, try to snap the end of the pod off. The pod is still good if the end snaps cleanly and feels crisp. If the pod does not bend and the end does not snap off, it is no longer good for eating but can be kept for seed.
Okra can be susceptible to aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, and powdery mildew. Fortunately, growing okra in containers reduces the risk of these pests and diseases affecting the plant.
Okra can be grown in a container very successfully without too much effort or specialized care. Okra is a large plant, so make sure you have the vertical space where you position the container.
Okra is self-pollinating, making it possible to have a good harvest with a single plant in a container. A container with a wide, stable base makes an ideal container for growing okra. If you enjoy including okra as part of your diet but don’t have a lot of space, container growing is the ideal alternative!