Okra plants are among those you can expect to thrive and grow well when planted close to other beneficial crops. If you are interested in companion planting for okra, then you may want to know what exact plants you can grow with it.
If that is the case, this article can help as it will give you an idea of companion planting for okra. You will also know the best okra companion plants, so you have a hundred percent assurance that your crop will grow as best as possible.
What are okra plants?
Also called Abelmoschus esculentus, okra can be classified as a hardy plant. Many even consider it the hardiest among the crops that belong to the mallow family. Many believed that it came from Asia and Africa.
Presently, though, you can see the okra plant being grown throughout the US, especially in areas with mild seasons and are in temperature zones. The good thing about this famous crop is that it is not that difficult to grow, provided you supply it with good soil, as well as full and ample sun.
The accompanying okra flowers or blossoms also boast of their striking color. This means that it also belongs to flowering plants – with flowers emitting a nice aroma, which is why historically, many used the flowers as a base for their perfumes.
Sowing okra seeds now will let you enjoy okra stalks that reach up to 7 feet after just a few months. One more thing that you should know about the okra plant is that it is defensive, which is why you can see it releasing spines upon being harvested.
These spines are smaller compared to the spines of cactus. They are also irritating to the skin, so you have to be careful during the harvest. It is worth the effort growing and harvesting okras, though, as they can supply your body with plenty of nutrients, including carbs, fiber, and protein.
Related: Growing Guide for Okra Plants
What Makes Companion Planting Beneficial?
Okra is definitely one of those plants that can greatly benefit from companion planting. Basically, this is an organic method that you can use in controlling and preventing diseases and pests in plants.
What you should do is grow and cultivate at least two types or species of plants that provide beneficial symbiotic relationships. Plant them close to each other within a confined or designated space in even a small garden.
Companion planting is beneficial for a lot of plants, including okra. Note that okra plants are quite spiny to the hands of humans, making them good companions for other crops , too.
The majority of your common produce is capable of doing well when grown with okra. Now, the question is, which among them can truly help okra grow? By choosing the right companion plants, you can expect to boost each species’ growth in vegetable gardens.
Best Okra Companion Plants
Now, it’s time to get to know more about the different plants that serve as truly powerful and effective companions for okra:
#1 – Pepper
Pepper plants are definitely among the best okra companion plants as they can help in preventing cabbage wear, which may only damage the growth of okra. It is advisable to plant pepper close to okra if it is afflicted by cabbage wear.
To use pepper as a great companion plant, make sure to start the okra seeds first for around 6 to 8 weeks. After that, you can safely add pepper plants to your garden. Expect the peppers to perform at their best if you plant them from late April to early May, the time when there is warm soil and the temperatures every day is more than 75 degrees F.
Okra can be expected to be truly compatible with different types of pepper, including hot peppers such as jalapenos and habaneros. It also has the same watering and sunlight requirements as okra.
#2 – Lettuce
Lettuce, which is also one of those fast-growing plants, can be expected to mature even at a time when your okra is still growing. Plant lettuce in a way that surrounds the base of okra plants. By doing that, you can definitely maximize the space in your garden.
It also has shallow roots that make it effective as a companion plant for okra. Planting lettuce close to okra is also a good idea. The reason is that once okra reaches a tall enough height, it can start providing shade for lettuce once the summer comes. The fact that okra is a tall plant makes it a perfect lettuce companion or for other plants that have delicate leaves.
#3 – Peas
Peas are also fantastic companion plants for okra because of their ability to increase nitrogen in the surface or soil. This makes it helpful in the correct development and growth of the plants and crops close to it, including okra crops.
There is also a high chance for the cooler-weather crops or pea plants to thrive and grow well if you interplant them along with okra. Note that the seeds of the okra crop will not be able to grow tall until there is an increase in temperature.
With that, the peas can gain sufficient time for pod development. Once the peas are already okay to harvest, you will also notice your okra seedlings starting to mature and taking over the garden space while growing.
#4 – Sunflowers
It is also a good idea to plant sunflowers close to okra. It helps to grow them along your okra garden’s border, so the flower can easily attract beneficial insects and primary pollinators, including hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. This makes the beneficial insect, pests, and natural pollinators move to okra after they went to the sunflowers.
#5 – Radish
A plant that belongs to the Brassicaceae vegetable family, radish refers to an edible root vegetable cultivated starting from Asia’s prehistoric period. You can plant radish seeds throughout the row where your okra plants are.
By doing so, the soil surrounding the okra will break down a bit, allowing the plant to reach deep inside the soil. Radishes can also benefit from being grown close to okra because the deep roots of the latter make it capable of growing into really tall plants.
It also acts as a sufficient shade plant for the radish. As much as possible, you have to plant okra and radish around 4 to 5 inches apart. This should encourage proper air circulation.
Related: Radish Companion Plants
#6 – Melon
You can also plant melon if you are looking for the best companions for okra. The reason is that both have the same requirements, like water and sun.
When growing these two plants together, ensure that melons are not shaded or covered by okra. You can guarantee that by planting melon in the east. By doing that, it can enjoy the benefits of the morning sun.
#7 – Basil
It is also a great idea to plant basil close to okra. One thing that it can do is repel or dissuade pests. It has this strong smell or fragrance, which is a big help in deterring several pests, including flea beetles, stink bugs, whiteflies, and aphids.
Once your okra plant reaches up to 6 feet, expect it to be of help in shading tender perennials. This is especially good when the summer season comes with a very sweltering hot sun.
#8 – Tomatoes
It is also a good idea to plant okra and tomatoes together considering the fact that the two have similar growth requirements. What’s great about tomatoes is that they work effectively as a trap crop. They can, therefore, help prevent pests from penetrating your garden and possibly causing harm to tomatoes.
#9 – Cucumber
A cucumber is a vining plant that also works well with okra. It can produce mostly cylindrical and edible fruits called cucumber. Also, these two plants require similar conditions for growth, so expect both to survive when grown side by side.
Avoid planting them too close, though. There should still be proper distance. As much as possible, plant cucumber six inches (minimum) away from okra. By doing that, both plants will receive full sunlight.
#10 – Eggplants
Eggplants are also great additions to your garden if you have okra. One thing that eggplant can do is supply the soil with potassium. This is a good thing in preventing inadequacy in potassium, which can make your plants prone to fusarium wilt, a fungal disease.
Eggplants can also benefit from okra, especially tall ones as they can provide shade. The fact that okra needs plenty of water also means that it is possible to grow it close to other plants and crops that have similar watering requirements.
#11 – Zinnia
Zinnia is an attractive flowering plant that also acts as an effective and powerful companion for okra. It blooms during the late summer but has this great ability to attract pollinators. Expect them to visit okra flowers that will lead to a huge plump pod.
#12 – Marigold
You will also like the benefits provided by marigold to okra. It is a good okra companion plant as the marigold flower serves as a trap or bait attracting pests in the sense that they will feed on it rather than the primary okra crops. If you notice pests coming to marigold, work on eliminating and destroying them right away.
#13 – Calendula
Calendula is also one of the best companions for okra as it can repel pests and insects. Among these insects are aphids, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, squash vine borers, cabbage worms, Japanese beetles, and squash and stink bugs. What calendula invites, instead, are beneficial pollinators and bees.
#14 – Aromatic flowers and herbs
Some herb plants, such as chives, wormwood, chamomiles, yarrow, tansy, coriander, chervil, mint, geranium, and sage also work as favorable companions for okra. These aromatic herbs are very impressive companion plants for okra as they are effective in repelling insects and pests, including spider mites and cabbage moths.
They can also attract pollinators and beneficial insects. This means that they can promote the successful growth of your okra plants.
#15 – Brassica
Several plants that belong to the Brassica family can also provide benefits if you grow them along with okra. Among these plants are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and Swiss chard. These plants are good as they can nourish the soil, thereby boosting the overall health of okra plants.
What You Should Not Plant with Okra?
While there are truly fantastic and beneficial okra companion plants, take note that there are also plants that are not good for them. Among them are the following:
Sweet potatoes are not great companions to okra. The reason behind this is that they are capable of increasing the number of nematodes that your garden attracts. With that, it would be much better to grow and cultivate it along with crops capable of repelling nematodes.
Nematodes are actually good for a few garden crops. However, this is not the case with okra as they feed on the plants, instead. This makes it necessary to avoid planting potatoes that attract nematodes close to okra.
Planting squash in your garden is definitely a good idea as it will let you have easy access to this highly nutritious vegetable. However, if there is okra, avoid planting squash. The reason is that it can also invite nematodes that only feed on okra instead of helping it grow.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What grows well with okra plants?
The best plants that tend to grow well with okra are cucumbers and other early cool weather crops. These two types of plants have similar water and soil requirements, so expect them to grow and thrive well as companions.
The same is true for lettuce and other brassicas. Make sure, though, that you avoid planting cucumbers too close to each other as they require plenty of sun to bloom and ripen.
Can you plant okra near tomatoes?
Yes, both plants tend to grow well when cultivated together. Tomatoes act in a way that they support okra as they are vine crops. Meanwhile, okra has leaves capable of protecting tomatoes from unwanted pests.
Can you plant onions and okra together?
Yes. Onions, as well as other garlic greens, are among the most valuable companion plants for okra as they act as effective pest repellents. They can deter pests and insects, including beetles and aphids.
Are okra flowers and leaves edible?
Yes. Most of those who love okra favor the pod of this plant the most. Note, though, that it is not only the okra pod that is edible in the plant. You can also eat its flowers, leaves, and even seeds. You can even use okra leaves in making stews thicker.
What is the recommended distance when planting okra and its companions?
If you plan to grow okra seedlings, a wise tip is to plant every seed at half an inch depth in the soil. The seedlings also have to be spaced around two to four inches apart.
In case you are planting the best companion plants or okra cuttings, the best distance would be a minimum of twelve inches. Do not plant them too closely even if the plants are mutually beneficial as doing so may only lead to poor growth of crops and the development of fungal diseases.
How often do you have to water okra?
Aside from companion planting, your okra plants will also thrive well by providing them with what they specifically need to grow well. One is the right amount of water. You have to water okra in a way that it can retain the moisture in the soil.
Avoid overwatering the plants as excessive amounts of water can only hamper their growth. A wise tip is to water only when you notice that the upper layer of the soil looks dry.
Okra is indeed one of those plants that can bloom and flourish when grown together with good companion plants. Planting okra with its best companion plants will surely make your vegetable garden flourish.