Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is an excellent addition to your garden, capable of withstanding drought and providing excellent yields with just weekly watering. However, there are many colorful and delicious plants your okra benefits from growing near. If you’re seeking gardening tips on what to grow with okra, we explore companion planting for okra in this article.
Wouldn’t it be great to sow a dream garden of fresh herbs, flowers, and veggies without worrying about common pests like aphids, flea beetles, and stink bugs? What if by simply planting a good companion for your okra, you could increase the yield of vegetables? What if the right combination of plants could help preserve the condition of your soil and make your job next season easier when it comes to removing weeds?
Companion plants and permaculture add to your garden and your eventual harvest while lowering the risk of certain insects visiting your garden. In return, okra provides benefits to adjacent plants. Aside from warding off harmful pests, companion planting draws beneficial insects to your garden, offers shade to nearby plants, delivers protection from disease, and absorbs certain nutrients from the soil that may benefit nearby plants by altering the biochemistry of the soil.
- Companion Planting for Growing Okra
- More Ideas of What to Plant with Okra
- What to Grow with Okra to Avoid Cross-Pollination
- What to Avoid when Companion Planting for Okra
Companion Planting for Growing Okra
Companion planting, planting with the idea that one plant helps another, is a tradition in gardening that Native Americans used to create the best yield for their crops by combining crops that worked well together.
This concept has expanded beyond the corn, beans, and squash that Native Americans were known to plant together. Discover options for what to plant with okra for the best results.
Planting Aromatic Herbs
Beneficial and aromatic plants attract bugs that do not harm vegetable gardens; some are ladybugs, bees, and butterflies. If pollination is something you’re looking for in your garden, summer savory is a great addition.
Like other plants, summer savory is known for repelling pests like spider mites and cabbage moths with its strong scent. Other aromatic herbs are chives or cilantro/coriander.
Repel Cabbage Worms with Pepper Plants
Pepper plants are mutually beneficial plants to add to your garden when planting okra seeds. The sturdy stems of okra plants create a windbreaker for tender crops like pepper plants.
In exchange for shelter from rough winds, peppers repel cabbage worms, which feed on various leaves in your garden and chew small holes in the leaves. Over time these holes affect your crops’ ability to photosynthesize, leading to stunted crop growth and making your crop unfit for consumption.
Allow Your Okra to Grow Stronger Roots with Radishes
As a cover crop, radishes are one of the best companion plants to add to your garden when planting okra. Beneficial to your okra and any pepper plants nearby, radish seedlings loosen the nearby soil through a process known as biodrilling, and allow the roots of your okra plants to grow deeper and more robust.
In addition to their ability to aerate the soil, radish plants are known for their weed suppression. If you plant radishes and okra together six weeks before the first frost of the season, with at least five plants per square foot, your springtime de-weeding could be little to none in this area.
Restore Soil Quality with Bush Beans or Pole Beans
Aside from water and sunlight, the soil is the other crucial component to crop growth, and as they grow, crops absorb valuable nutrients from the soil, which leaves you as the gardener with work to renew the soil by the end of the season.
With tall plants like bush or pole beans planted nearby, your okra’s soil will need less maintenance as the bean plants add nutrients, like nitrogen, back into the soil to keep nearby plants healthy.
Protect Soil and Draw in Pollinators with Oregano
Oregano is a kitchen staple, and when grown in a garden, spreads low across the ground and protects your soil from the sun. This shade keeps your soil cooler and benefits plants that enjoy cooler temperatures to thrive.
Oregano also protects okra by driving away pests like spider mites. Oregano makes a great companion plant to peppers if you’re looking to plot out your next garden additions. If cross-pollination is not a concern for you, oregano, along with flowers like nasturtiums, brings pollinators to your vegetable garden.
More Ideas of What to Plant with Okra
Most companion plants for okra serve the purpose to drive away pests, typically through their strong scent that deters harmful insects and pests. Note when to plant okra and its companions to ensure they require the same type of climate.
While leeks and comfrey provide unique benefits to your garden, they are somewhat limited in their advantages to your okra.
Leeks act as a natural insecticide but don’t offer much support for other crops outside of dealing with their pest problems. Other plants can provide the same benefit of repelling pests and aiding your okra in different ways.
Comfrey is unique for its usage as a chop-and-drop plant. By pruning leaves from your comfrey, or the entire plant, and leaving it in the garden, comfrey decomposes and activates soil microbes; this retains moisture in the soil by using comfrey as mulch.
Since okra and watermelon have some of the same growing requirements, okra is a great companion plant for watermelon.
What to Grow with Okra to Avoid Cross-Pollination
Okra is a self-pollinating plant, meaning okra flowers do not require assistance from wind or pollinators like bees.
While adding plants like borage to your vegetable garden can encourage pollination, if you’re hoping to avoid cross-pollination between different types of okra, like heirloom okra, planting certain seeds helps reduce pollination in your garden.
When looking at companion planting for okra, planting marigolds is a great start to avoid cross-pollination. The smell of marigolds to common pollinators like bees and ladybugs keeps them away from your garden, thus reducing any risk for cross-pollinating your okra varieties. Marigolds also protect your okra from nematodes, stink bugs, and whiteflies.
What to Avoid when Companion Planting for Okra
With so many helpful options for companion planting, it should come as no surprise that some plants will not aid your okra crop. Some crops draw pests that prove harmful to your okra yields.
While fennel does attract pollinators like ladybugs, it also attracts whiteflies and aphids that you don’t want near your okra. Overall, fennel is not a great companion for most herbs and vegetables in the garden.
Avoid planting okra in soil nearby or in soil previously used to grow vine crops like sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes increase the population of nematodes in the soil. Nematodes feast on young okra roots, which diminishes yield.
In addition, do not plant next to strawberries or even in the soil where they grew before.
After harvesting your okra, learn the different ways to preserve okra without fridge, including freezing and pickling. There are tons of tasty recipes.
We hope that our article on okra companion planting helped you plot out ideas on what to plant with okra for your next garden project. We suggest reviewing a companion planting chart for further expansion plans if you want to plant more crops in your garden to add to the companion plants listed here.
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