Okra, you probably love it or hate it. If you are in the “love it” category, then you are probably already, or thinking of, growing it. Okra, like other plants, can benefit from okra plant companions. Okra plant companions are plants that thrive with okra. Companion planting with okra can deter pests and generally boost growth and production. Keep reading to find out what to plant near okra.
Companion Planting with Okra
Companion planting strives to boost harvests by situating plants that have symbiotic relationships. Used for centuries by Native Americans, selecting the right companions for okra cannot only reduce pests, but also provide a safe haven for beneficial insects, boost pollination, enrich the soil, and in general diversify the garden–all of which will result in healthier plants that are able to fend off disease and produce bountiful crops.
What to Plant near Okra
An annual vegetable that thrives in warm regions, okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is a rapid grower. Extremely tall plants, okra can get up to 6 feet (2 m.) in height by the end of the summer. This makes it a useful companion in its own right to plants such as lettuce. The tall okra plants shield the tender greens from the hot sun. Plant lettuce between the okra plants or behind a row of emerging seedlings.
Spring crops, like peas, make great companion plants for okra. These cooler-weather crops do well interplanted in the shade of okra. Plant a variety of spring crops in the same rows as your okra. The okra seedlings won’t crowd the spring plants until temps are higher. By then, you will have already harvested your spring crops (like snow peas), leaving the okra to take over space as it grows in earnest.
Another spring crop, radishes marry perfectly with okra and, as an added bonus, peppers too. Plant both the okra and radish seeds together, 3 to 4 inches (8-10 cm.) apart in a row. The radish seedlings loosen the soil as the roots grow, which allows the okra plants to grow deeper, stronger roots.
Once the radishes are ready to harvest, thin the okra plants to a foot (31 cm.) apart and then transplant pepper plants between the thinned okra. Why peppers? Peppers repel cabbage worms, which love to feed on young okra foliage.
Not just veggie plants do well as companions for okra. Flowers, such as sunflowers, also make great companions. The brilliantly colored blooms attract natural pollinators, which in turn visit the okra flowers resulting in large, plump pods.