Grow okra in container

Learn how to grow okra in containers in this article. Growing okra in pots doesn’t require a lot of space and it is easy too if you complete all of the planting requirements.

Okra, which is also called lady’s finger is a warm season tropical vegetable that is also grown for ornamental purposes. Its delicate foliage and showy blooms that look like hibiscus (don’t forget okra belongs to the same hibiscus family) look amazing.

Very low in calories (25 to 40 kcal per 100g), okra is a vegetable rich in vitamins A, C and P, calcium and many minerals.

Choosing a pot

Choose a pot of whatever material you like. Pot should be at least 3 gallons in size. Ideally, a 5-gallon pot that is 10-12 inches deep and similar in diameter would be perfect for one okra plant if you have got a larger pot you can grow a few plants in it. Best to choose a black colored pot as okra loves heat.

Planting Okra Seeds

The first step for growing okra is to get the seeds. Ask for the dwarf okra variety that will not grow above 5 feet tall. However, you can grow any okra variety in a pot, but it is best if you choose the dwarf one. If you live in a climate with short summers, search for varieties that mature fast.

The best planting time is when the temperature starts to stay above 55-60 F (13-16 C) and all the dangers of frost are passed. Growing okra is possible year round if you live in USDA Zones 9-11 or any other subtropical or tropical region on our earth.

Due to its taproot, okra doesn’t transplant well that’s why you’ll have to directly plant the seeds in the container or a biodegradable pot. Sow 2-3 okra seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep in each pot. Water with a sprayer and keep the seeds in a bright, warm place, the substrate should remain moist until seeds germinate. The germination takes 5 to 10 days after sowing. The more warmth, the faster the germination.

Requirements for Growing Okra in Pots


Pick a spot that receives full sun (at least 5-6 hours of sunlight is essential). Like tomatoes and peppers, okra requires plenty of sunlight to produce well.


The soil you use must be loamy and crumbly; it must be well draining too. Opt for a soilless potting mix that is rich in organic matter. You can also add a lot of compost or aged manure to provide the constant supply of nutrients to your okra plant.

Also Read: How to Grow Bell Pepper In Pot


Okra requires slightly moist soil. Water regularly to keep the soil uniformly moist and particularly more from the beginning of the flowering period and until the end of production.


The cultivation of okra plant is extremely easy but requires a lot of heat. The plant can grow above 50 F (10 C), but to flower and to bear fruit abundantly the temperature must be around 75 to 95 F (23-35 C) ideally. The plant can tolerate higher temperatures well but fails to grow when the temperature starts to touch lower levels.

Okra Plant Care


Mix manure in soil to provide nutrients to the plant, you can also side dress the plant with it. Also, at the time of planting, you can add balanced fertilizer if you want. Once the plant has reached the height of 6 inches, apply a dose of balanced fertilizer again. Keep in mind that if the soil is nitrogen rich, it may promote vegetative growth at the expense of fruiting so maintain the balance. Later on, feed the plant with low in nitrogen fertilizer such as NPK 5-10-15 or 6-12-12.


Okra is self-pollinating so you don’t need to care about pollination.

Pinching and Topping

As you’re growing okra in containers, dwarf varieties we consider, the plant will not exceed the height of 5 feet. In that case, you don’t need to care about pinching or topping.

Pests and Diseases

Okra is susceptible to fusarium wilt and nematode attack as well as aphids and whiteflies in pests. Mealybugs also affect the plant’s growth. However, these pests do more damage on plants grown in large quantities. As you’re growing okra in pots, you can easily control them.

Okra requires frequent harvesting. It blooms about two months from planting, and the fruits appear 5-7 days after flowering. The fruits/pods are harvested when they are still tender. Otherwise, they become fibrous and too hard to be eaten. Ideally, the picking length is between 3 to 5 inches.

How to see if okras are not too late to be picked?

Bend the tip of any fruit and if it breaks easily this means that they are still tender and crispy and good to harvest.

Quick Guide to Growing Okra

  • Plant okra in hot weather when evening temperatures are in the 60s or warmer.
  • Space okra plants 10 inches apart in a very sunny area that has fertile, well-drained soil with a neutral pH of 6.5 to 7.0.
  • Improve native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Okra loves the heat and can withstand a dry spell, but do your best to give plants 1 inch of water every week.
  • Promote a more abundant harvest by regularly feeding with a continuous-release plant food
  • Harvest okra pods when they are 2 to 4 inches long.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Choose your sunniest spot for growing okra, and wait until the weather is warm to set out your plants. Plants like it when nights are at least in the 60s and days 85 or warmer. In the North, gardeners might wait until late June to plant, since pods appear within 2 months.

Okra grows best in soil with a near-neutral pH between 6.5 and 7.0, although it will do fine in a pH as high as 7.6. Plants benefit from a generous amount of compost or other rich organic matter, which should be thoroughly mixed into the soil before planting. Or, you can improve the nutrition and texture of your native soil by mixing in aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil with the top few inches. For an even better chance at a big harvest, you’ll also want to make sure your okra plants get all the nutrients they need throughout the season by feeding them with a continuous-release fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition Granules, following label directions.

Okra seedlings have fragile taproots that you need to be careful not to damage. Thoroughly water your seedlings an hour before you plant them. Gently remove them from the pot, separate the seedlings, and set them about 10 inches apart. Plant slightly deeper (about ½ inch) than they grew in their pots. Water the little plants if rain is not expected, but wait a few days before mulching to give the soil a chance to absorb the sun’s warmth. Okra is appreciated for its ability to withstand drought compared to other vegetables, but for good growth and production, you’ll need to water at least an inch a week, just as with other vegetables. Just know that if you run into an extended dry period and can’t seem to water enough, okra will be the last to suffer.

The early growth of okra is often slow, but the plants grow much faster once summer starts sizzling. In addition to gaining height, okra’s leaves get bigger as the plants grow and begin producing yellow blossoms followed by tender pods. Plants are erect with a main trunk, making them look a little tree-like in the garden

Ornamental Okra Plants: Tips On Growing Okra In Containers And Garden Beds

Okra is a nutrient-rich vegetable with a mild flavor that makes it a popular choice for gumbo and other flavorful dishes. However, okra isn’t on the vegetable hit parade for some people, mostly because it’s difficult to ignore that distinctive, slimy texture. If you don’t want to raise the vegetable for eating, you can still grow ornamental okra plants. The big, hibiscus-like blooms are anything but unpleasant.

What is Ornamental Okra?

Okra is a heat-loving, tropical plant that displays big, bold, maple-like leaves and tall, sturdy stems. The delicate, almost otherworldly flowers, which last only a single day, appear from early summer until the first frost.

All okra plants are ornamental, but certain varieties are showier than others. For example, cultivars such as ‘Royal Burgundy’ or ‘Red Velvet’ display bright green foliage with deep red veins, stems and pods. Others, such as ‘Silver Queen,’ have dark green leaves that provide contrast with lime-green pods.

Growing Okra as an Ornamental

Okra is easy to grow, but keep in mind that it is a summertime vegetable that needs bright sunlight, hot days and warm nights. You can start seeds indoors four to six weeks before the last unexpected frost, or you can plant seeds directly in the garden when the temperature is consistently above 60 degrees F. (15 C.).

Allow plenty of space; the plants may be bigger than you expect.

Spread 2 or 3 inches of organic mulch around the plants when the seedlings are about 3 inches tall. Mulch, such as straw or shredded bark, will discourage growth of weeds and keep the soil warm if temperatures are chilly in early spring.

Be careful not to overwater. Okra is a drought-tolerant plant that does just fine with about ½ inch of water every week. If you skip a week here and there, no worries. Feed the plant occasionally throughout the growing season, using a balanced garden fertilizer.

You’ll probably need to stake the plant. Most varieties become top heavy as they grow.

Can You Grow Okra in Pots?

If you don’t have space for standard-size plants that may reach heights of 3 to 5 feet, dwarf varieties such as ‘Baby Bubba’ or ‘Little Lucy’ are small enough to grow in pots.

To grow okra in containers, start with a fairly large pot with a diameter of at least 10 to 12 inches. A wide-bottomed pot is best because the plant may become top heavy. Be sure the pot has a drainage hole in the bottom.

Fill the container with a regular commercial potting mix that contains ingredients such as peat and vermiculite. Mix a small handful of any general-purpose fertilizer into the potting mix before planting.

Caring for ornamental okra in containers is easy, but be sure to let the potting mix dry slightly between watering. Soggy, waterlogged soil may result in rot and other moisture-related diseases.

To provide nourishment for healthy blooming, mix a water-soluble fertilizer with the water once every four to six weeks.

How To Grow Okra From Seeds in Containers

Follow the step-by-step guide on how to grow okra from seeds and how to take care of okra plants. Okra or Okro (Botanical name: Abelmoschus esculentus Moench), is an annual summer growing vegetable of hibiscus mallow family (Malvaceae).
Growing okra from seeds in containers is quite simple provided you take its care like flowers, pollination, fertilization, pests and diseases and harvesting.

Okra Harvesting

Okra is believed to have originated in West Africa, Ethiopia and South Asian. The okra plant is grown in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions through out the world. I am growing okra from seeds in Sydney and can be grown in other parts of Australia in summers.
India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, Japan, Malayasia, Turkey, Iran, Western Africa, Brazil, Ghana, Ethiopian, Cyrpus, Yugoslavia and the Southern United States are the commerial growers of okra, India being the top producer.
Okra is also known as lady fingers, bhindi, bhendi, dherosh, ochro, bamia, ki ngombo, gumbo, etc. Okra is rich in vitamin A and low in calories and is used as a vegetable and a natural thickener for soups, stew and gumbo.
Okra is a hairy, annual plant whose blooms are one of the most beautiful blooms in the vegetable garden. The okra plant produces edible green seed pods all summer long; when you harvest a pod, another grows in its place!

Okra Planting Guide

Okra is mainly propagated by seeds. It needs similar growing conditions as for tomatoes (growing tomatoes in pots).
Learn growing okra from seeds in containers and its its flowers, pollination, fertilization, pests and diseases and harvesting. It is easy to grow if you follow the guide and tips given below:

Companion Plants For Okra

  1. Melons, cucumbers, sweet peppers, eggplant, etc. are the best plants that can be grown along with okra. Sunflowers can be planted near okra plant to attract bees for okra pollination.
  2. Okra acts as a trap crop for stink bugs, which damage tomatoes, beans, peppers and other garden vegetables. Okra can repel stink bugs away from your garden.

Do not plant okra where you have grown potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, or similar vegetables.

Growing Okra in Pots or Ground

Bhindi plants can be grown in garden bed or in a pot, even in a bucket or in any big container.
If you have only small place to grow okra, you can grow it in pots on your terrace or balcony. As the roots get deep to about 12 inch so if you plant in a pot, select a 12-14 inch deep pot with drainage holes at bottom.

Position: Where To Plant Okra

Okra can be grown in hot humid areas with a preferable temperature between 25-35°C. It requires a long, warm and humid growing period. Frost and extremely low temperatures are the enemies of this plant.
Okra grows best in full sun. It needs at least 6 hours of full sun every day.

Preparing Soil for Planting Okra

Okra needs nutrient rich fertile well-draining soil with a pH level 6.5 – 7.0. Dig the soil about 12 inch deep and break big chunks of soil. If the soil is clay, mix some river sand. Mix compost (making compost at home) or cow manure or slow release fertilizer in the soil.

Sowing Okra Seeds

Okra seeds

Okra Seed germination

  1. Okra seedlings are difficult to transplant so it is better to sow the seeds directly in the garden.
  2. If you live in a warm area, you can sow seeds directly in the garden when the soil temperature is 25-35°C. Sow the seeds about 1 inch deep and 12 to 18 inches apart in rows separated by 3 feet.
  3. If you live in a cooler place, sow okra seeds in a small bio-degradable small pot indoors 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date. Put the pot in a warm sunny room during the germination period.
  4. When the weather warms up, transplant the seedlings outdoors with the container when they grow to 2-3 leaves, 12 to 18 inches apart in rows separated by 3 feet. The bio-degradable pot will merge in the soil.
  5. Keep the soil moist after sowing the seeds.
  6. The seeds will germinate in 2 to 10 days depending on the temperature. Soaking the seeds overnight prior to sowing will speed up germination.

Watering Okra Plants

  1. Keep the plants well watered. Plants in pots will need plenty of water daily. over-watering can cause the plants to start rotting.
  2. Do not wet the foliage. It’s best to water okra in the morning.
  3. Apply a thick layer of mulch to keep the soil damp and to reduce the weeds.

Fertilizers for Okra Plant

  1. Since okra needs plenty of nutrients to grow, add nutrients to the soil periodically. Absense of nutrients may result in okra plants that produce a less number of fruits.
  2. Rack some compost or bagged fertilizer or slow release fertilizer around the plants three times; first after planting the seedlings, then after the first pods begin to grow, and a third time aboutg a month.
  3. You can feed with a liquid fertilizer periodically.

Okra Flowers and Pollination

Okra flowers

  1. Okra has perfect flowers (male and female reproductive parts in the same flower) and is self-pollinating.
  2. The flowers are large around 2 inch in diameter, with five white to yellow petals with a red or purple spot at the base of each petal.
  3. Flowers open only once in the morning and close after pollination on the same day.
  4. Although insects are unnecessary for pollination and fertilization, the okra flowers are very attractive to bees and the plants are cross-pollinated by insects, such as bumblebees, when many varieties are grown in the same area and blossom at the same time.

Harvesting Okra

How long does it take to harvest okra? It takes about two months to harvest first okras after sowing the seeds.

  1. You may wonder, how often should okra be harvested. The okra pods will start to grow after about 8 weeks after planting. Okra pods can mature in just four days after flowering. Harvest the pods when they are 2 to 3 inches long. The longer the pod stays on the plant, the more tough it becomes, not suitable for eating. So okra requires frequent harvesting.
  2. Using a scissors, cut the okra pods where their stems meet the branches of the plant. You will notice that another okra pod will emerge soon from the same spot where you made the cut.
  3. You may wear gloves when you harvest the okra because the leaves and pods can irritate the skin.
  4. Harvesting daily or on alternate day during the peak season will encourage more fruits.
  5. Remove the lower leaves to increase production after the first harvest.
  6. Remove tough pods from the plant otherwise it will stop producing fruits.
  7. If the plants grow 6 – 8 high, you may prune one third of the top in late summer to get a late crop.

How can you tell when Okra is ready to Harvest?

  1. Test the pods by touching, if they feel very soft, it means, they are good for harvesting.
  2. Look at the color of the pods. If it is whitish, then they are somewhat woody.
  3. If the pods open easily by pressing it at the middle, then it is too tough to eat.

Pests and Diseases of Okra

  1. The okra plants are prone to damage by various insects, fungi, nematodes and viruses. The major insects are fruit and shoot borer, aphids, Japanese beetles, stink bugs, jassids, whiteflies, ants, corn earworms and flea beetles. The okra plants may also get many diseases affecting leaves, flowers and fruits.
  2. Keep an eye out for pests. If you see the signs (holes in the leaves) of pest infestation, remove the bugs by hand or spray the leaves with neem oil spray or simple soap water to keep the pests away.

Storing Okra

  1. Fresh okra can be kept at room temperature/fridge for 5-8 days.
  2. You can freeze extra okra to use them during the winter.
  3. Put the uncooked pods into a freezer bag and keep them in the freezer.
  4. Some suggests to blanch them before freezing by putting them into boiling water for 3 minutes, then remove and plunge into iced water or under cold running water to halt the cooking process. Then chop them into small pieces and place on a tray and freeze them until firm. Transfer the firm okra pieces to a freezer bag for long-term storage.

Saving Okra Seeds

  1. Okra’s seeds can be saved for next year planting. For this, at the end of the season allow some pods to remain on the plant to mature, dry out and turn brown, begin to split but not split open. At this stage, harvest these pods.
  2. Break the pods when you want to sow the seeds or take out the seeds and store in a air-tight bottle. No need to wash the seeds.
  3. The dried pods or seeds may be stored for up to five years.
  4. Seed can be saved from open-pollinated varieties. To avoid cross-pollination, the flowers can be isolated by placing a paper bag over them for 24 hours when they are open. If okra flowers are bagged, 100% of the flowers will set seed.
  1. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture; Home Gardening Series, Okra; Craig R. Anderson, pdf
  2. Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture, Okra
  3. Missouri Botanical Garden: Pollination
  4. Biology of Okra, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Governemnt of India, pdf

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *