You don’t need a huge yard to grow your own okra at home.
Unless you’re doing some serious commercial farming, any gardener can grow a few okra plants that produce plenty of harvest inside a planter.
The nice part about growing okra in a container rather than sowing directly into the soil is that you can move it around.
If it’s too hot, cold, not enough sunlight, too little sunlight- it doesn’t matter. You can change the location to optimize yield. It doesn’t get any easier.
Plus, okra doesn’t require much space in the first place. So it’s a good choice for container planting.
Let’s get started.
Can you grow okra in a potter?
Yes, you can. Okra isn’t greedy. You can even plant multiple okra plants inside a single container.
Okra can be used for cooking or left as a decorative plant.
Does okra grow well in containers?
While nothing beats soil planting, container-grown okra will still produce plenty of yield.
Depending on the type of okra you’re planting, you can fit multiple dwarf types in a single 5-gallon container.
If you want all year yield, try succession planting or using multiple plants.
Or multiple containers. Or both. It’s really up to your needs.
Types of okra
First, you need to choose the type of okra you want to grow.
This is important because if you choose the wrong one, it may not produce optimal yield.
If you have limited space, you should pick something that’s a dwarf variety.
In this case, “dwarf” okra are ones that max out at about 5 feet in height.
This is ideal for smaller containers so you don’t suffocate it because of limited planter space.
Check out these dwarf okra types which are perfect for container growing:
- Cajun delight
- Baby hubby hybrid
- Dwarf Blondy
- Perkins long pod
How to propagate okra in a container
Propagating okra from seed is easy.
Once you’ve chosen the right type of okra you want to plant, get the seeds from the local nursery or online.
Next, it’s time to prep the pot. The type of planter you use is just as important as the type of okra you’re growing.
The cheapest method is to just get a plastic container with a few good drainage holes.
Other containers are expensive but offer a nicer look. If you don’t care about the looks of it, then plastic all the way.
The right time to plant
Okra is a warm, summer-loving plant. It doesn’t like the cold.
You should time your planting so that the danger of the frost is completely gone before you sow.
Check your local zone for the frost dates if you don’t know them as they’re easy to find out.
Plant after this date, but not too late or else they may not be harvest ready and the fall is already here.
The outdoor temperature should be around 60F before you sow.
Zones 9 or higher can have okra thriving all season, as it doesn’t get cold enough to harm them, so congrats!
Okra natively grows in tropical zones. So keep this in mind when you’re asking yourself “When should you plant okra?”
If you’re in the north or colder hardiness zones, then it matters. Wait until temperatures pick up in June to start sowing your seeds.
Choosing the planter
Here are some rules for choosing the container size:
- Get a pot that’s at least 5 gallons. While 3-gallon containers work, they give you less wiggle room for screw-ups.
- You need to be precise with your watering, fertilizer, soil parameters, etc.
- The less room you have to work with, the easier it is to change the overall profile of the soil.
- Using a larger pot gives you safety and a buffer zone. Okra doesn’t like change, so once you establish the seedlings, you’ll need to stick with it.
- Choose a container that has at least 12 inches of diameter.
This allows you to put multiple okra plants within one pot. The depth of the container should be the same as the diameter.
Using ceramic containers or clay pots are excellent choices if you can afford them. They’re pricier, but they trap heat which can insulate the base of the okra roots.
Okra is a heat-loving plant, so the ceramics will hold the heat throughout the cold of the night. Plastic works if it’s a darker shade. Brick or stone are also good choices and look good.
Whatever material or planter size you pick, make sure there are plenty of drainage holes on the bottom. Some require drilling. There should be multiple drain holes on the bottom of the pot.
Consider using a plant roller stand so it can drain efficiently and makes moving it around easier.
Okra has bright, gorgeous flowers to show off as well, so you can use it for eating or decor.
Pick your choice. Or do both. This is why okra is so awesome and versatile. It’s not just an edible plant. It’s more than that!
Prepping the pot
Fill the container with a high-quality potting mix.
It should be rich in organic matter to help your okra thrive. Consider lining the planter with some pebbles or gravel.
This prevents clumping of the soil.
The soil needs to be well-draining, there’s no way around this requirement. If you choose a poor-quality soil, the okra will suffer and may not even germinate.
Or it can either shortly after germination. The soil should be clump-free, full of organic nutrients, and soft. Use loamy soil with plenty of compost or manure mixed in.
This will feed your okra and save yourself from adding plant food later on.
The soil should have plenty of organic compost or manure to feed the okra seedlings. Aim for a pH of 6.0-7.0, so it’s slightly acidic.
You can limestone to help bring the pH lower if needed. Some okra will grow up to pH levels of 8.0, so it’s not gonna make or break your harvest.
Don’t use topsoil or garden soil. Use a potting mix only.
These are specially formulated for pots and drain well compared to garden soil, which has a lower drain efficiency.
Yes, topsoil may be cheaper. But you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage from the start by going the cheap route. It’s only a few bucks more. Do it right.
Also, if you’re growing organic okra, you need to use organic soil, fertilizer, etc. This is self-explanatory.
Sowing okra seeds
Next, you’re ready to plant!
Get your seeds then gently insert them into the soil about 12 inches apart. A circular pattern works well.
If you have a square or window planter, you can sow in rows.
Use your finger to push each seed about half an inch into the soil. No need to go crazy.
Germination time varies, but you should expect pods to show up within 2 months of planting.
To see actual seedings, it only takes 1-2 weeks if soil conditions/temperature is right.
Avoid using starter kits if you can. You know, those kits that come with a bunch of compartments to start your seeds.
Unless they’re biodegradable, skip them.
Why does biodegradability matter?
It’s good for the earth.
But even more convenient, it lets you just plant the container itself into the planter later on.
Okra does NOT like to be moved around later after it’s developed some roots.
So either plant it in its permanent location, or use a biodegradable seed starter kit. You can shock it from transplant shock by moving it. It hates that.
The roots are extensive and thick, so once they shack down, they ain’t moving.
The first time you sow, give them a good watering with a watering can.
Don’t use a hose because it can disturb the soil mix and dislodge your seeds.
Water it a bit more than usual so you can establish soil water pathways where it can drain.
Check for proper drainage on the bottom of the container. Water deeply and completely.
Keep it warm
Keep the temperatures above 60F during germination.
It should sprout within 2 weeks if the soil is warm.
If you expect a cold dip, move the planter to somewhere with shelter to keep it warm. It doesn’t like the cold.
Choosing a location
Put the planter in direct sunlight.
Okra fares well when it has at least 8 hours of direct, bright light per day. This doesn’t mean filtered or partial sun.
This means directly in the sun.
If you’re in the right hardiness zone, plant in full sun.
For warmer zones with scorching-hot summers, use partial sun or put the okra pot somewhere with fewer hours of sunlight per day.
How to grow okra in containers
Here are some general guidelines you can use to help you get the most out of your okra.
Okra grows in USDA hardiness zones 2-11, so it’s relatively versatile and can be grown all over the US if conditions are right.
It’s a seasonal blooming plant that does well in warmer regions.
Even if you’re not in the right zone, it’s OK.
Some mulch can help insulate temperatures that are below 40F or temperatures that are too high.
Sunny regions can use partial shade to stop plant burn.
Okra will grow in most containers that are at least 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide per plant.
Each okra needs about 12 inches of spacing so you can judge that a single 3-gallon container will only hold about 2-3 okra.
A 5-gallon container will hold 4-5 okra plants.
Okra is a warm-weather plant.
If you’re situated somewhere where the temperature regularly dips below 55F at night, put a layer of mulch to help insulate it at night.
Daytime temperatures should be warm, but not hot.
The ideal temperature range is between 60-80F.
Warmer temperatures will spur quicker fruit growth. Okra thrives in the subtropics by nature, so it likes high humidity with warmer temperatures.
Humidity should be moderate.
You can expect it to be somewhat higher because it always needs to be moist, but never wet. High humidity can lead to fungus, rot, and other mildew problems. Especially with dense leaves. So keep it clean!
Aim for at least 8 hours of direct sun per day.
This will help encourage your okra to produce the most pods possible.
Don’t use filtered sunlight unless it’s hot in your area. Direct sun is recommended for most hardiness zones.
Use a water meter to be precise.
Otherwise, use your finger to check if the first few inches of soil are moist. Aim for 1-2 inches of water per week. Don’t water if it rains, and water more if it’s especially dry.
Okra needs plenty of organic matter to help feed itself.
You should’ve used compost or manure when you first prepared your planter.
If you find that your okra isn’t growing correctly (failed blooms, yellow flowers, wilting), you can add soil fertilizer to help provide additional nutrients.
Use as directed. Use before the growing season and during it.
Balanced plant food works when the okra is about 5 inches tall.
Use a fertilizer with an NPK of 6-12-12 to help encourage more fruiting than leaf growth.
Nitrogen will grow leaves, not edibles. So minimize it.
Pruning isn’t necessary for okra unless the foliage is going crazy.
If you have too many leaves, but not enough flowers, it’s a sign of excess nitrogen. Reduce plant feeding or switch to a low-nitrogen type.
Prune off spent flowers or deadhead them.
Okra grows yellow or white flowers and produces pods before they produce fruit. You can use this to tell when it’s about time to collect your rewards!
Okra is predictable, so it’s easy to grow.
Perfect for beginners.
Put a layer of mulch to help retain soil moisture, keep weeds out, insulate the soil, and provide a layer of nutrients. There’s no drawback to using mulch, so use it!
Around the 60 day mark, you can start checking for blooms.
This means that your okra is about to be ready for harvest. You don’t need to wait for the perfect time to harvest.
Okra is a cut and come again plant, so you can harvest daily if you wanted to. The flowers contain both male and female parts so they’re self-fertilizing.
They also self-pollinate, so that’s nothing to worry about.
Once you see a flower appear, you can expect fruit in about a week.
Pick the fruit pods when they’re soft.
Waiting until they become firm will make them hard to chew. Feel them by giving them a squeeze.
Generally, pods are ready for harvest when they’re at least 3 inches in length. Pods show up at the base of the plant and will grow upwards.
Eventually, you’ll collect them from the top of your plant.
Use a sterilized pair of pruners to cut the pods off the okra.
Okra only lasts a few days in the fridge when you cut it apart.
You can put it into a container and then store it for 1-2 days at most.
So only harvest when you need it.
Seeds can be collected and saved for next season. After you’ve planted in the spring and it’s done growing, the flowers will produce pods.
Okra is self-pollinating and insects can help increase the yield.
Some okra may crossbreed with other varieties if you have multiple ones planted in the same area.
If a bug carries pollen from some other okra plant and brings it to your okra, then you’ll get crossbreeds that aren’t true to the original.
So be wary of that if it matters. If you want all your okra to be the same type, only plant a single type in your garden.
The seeds can be harvested when it produces seed pods. Pick the pods when they’re about 5 inches long and keep them somewhere safe.
The pods need to be left alone for a few weeks after they show up so they can grow as big as possible. This means more seeds.
Also, water your okra. This helps increase the seed yield.
For collating, cut the pods off with a clean pair of your favorite garden pruners.
Sterilize them first by using rubbing alcohol. Then start cutting them off by the stem. The seeds are inside.
Let the seed pods dry for a few days so they’re not wet. You don’t wash them or anything. Just let them be.
Get a bowl and split the pods. The seeds will fall out if you just gently brush them out.
Put the seeds in an envelope out of sunlight. congrats. You’ve successfully collected okra seeds! Save them so you can play again next season!
Caring for okra
Okra is easy to care for and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.
Here are some quick tips to get your okra to produce more fruit.
Does okra require a lot of water?
Okra plants need moist soil that’s never dry.
Don’t let it dry out between waterings and always keep it moist. But don’t overdo it. Growing okra in a container will require extra water overgrowing it in your garden.
But that doesn’t mean it should be soaked and flooded with water. Get on a schedule and water regularly.
Water 1-2 inches per week. If it rains, water less. If it’s hot, water more.
Use common sense. More water is needed when the plant begins to flower.
Reduce watering at the end of the season. You can monitor soil levels by using a soil meter. Water completely.
How many okra plants per container?
You can plant several okra plants per container.
It really depends on the type of okra you’re growing
A simple 5-gallon bucket can house 2-3 okra plants without any problems. If you’re looking to grow more, get a larger container. Provide at least 12 inches of space between each plant. The container size is the determining variable.
How to make okra produce more yield?
If your okra isn’t producing a lot of fruit, you can force it to grow more by utilizing these easy guidelines:
- Ensure that your okra is receiving at least 8 hours of sunlight per day.
- Don’t use excess plant food, and make sure it only has limited nitrogen (N).
- Water regularly, but not frequently. It should always be moist, but never wet
- Use a high quality, well-draining soil
- Use natural sunlight
- Supplement with mulch to help give nutrients, reduce weeds, retain moisture, and more
- Add some compost to help provide micronutrients
- Plant alone. Other plants will leach nutrients in the same pot
- Ensure that the planter is deep and wide enough
- Don’t overprint okra in the same pot
How to grow okra indoors
Growing okra indoors is possible, but not ideal.
Unless you have a powerful grow light that can provide continuous sunlight for 8 hours a day, okra will produce the most outside.
If you’re growing indoors inside a container, you may get smaller yields or fewer blooms.
It’s definitely possible, but you need to use a strong grow light or place it near a bright, unfiltered window for the sunlight requirements.
Otherwise, okra has no other reserves. it’s just the light requirement that’s difficult to fulfill.
Okra should be planted alone if grown in containers.
This will help eliminate competition between the individual plants. If you plan to transplant it later to the soil, consider adding some companion plants to help your okra benefit.
Here are some of the most popular companion plants to plant with okra:
- Summer savor
What not to plant near okra
Okra does have a few plants you shouldn’t plant next to it.
If you’re container planting you should only stick with okra anyway.
But if you’re planning to move it to your garden, here are some plants to avoid planting with okra:
How many okras can one plant produce?
A single okra plant can produce up to 30 pods per plant.
This is in ideal condition, like perfect soil settings, sunlight, watering, etc.
When planted in a container, you can expect lower yield just because container planting is limited.
It doesn’t have as much room to grow, the environment isn’t free-flowing, there are limited nutrients, plant food, and water.
However, you can always grow multiple planted okra or move them to the soil if you want.
Enjoy your okra
If you read this whole guide through, you should now know all the basics of growing this versatile fruit in your favorite container!
With okra’s variety of uses, you can plant it in an ideal location outside since you know the power of mobility through a planter.
If you have any questions, post them in the comments section.
I’ve always been interested in gardening, but I never took it seriously until I was forcefully gifted an orchid. This was what got me into the hobby and I’ve never looked back. I enjoy writing about it, but not nearly as much as getting into the dirt and sculpting the perfect decorative ornamental to enjoy for the times.