Okra is a great garden plant for warm and hot climates. In addition to the okra pods for cooking, you get to enjoy the flowers, which are similar in appearance to hibiscus flowers. Sometimes, though, gardeners find themselves with a large and seemingly healthy okra plant that has no flowers or fruit. Here are some possible reasons why okra won’t flower.
Why Won’t My Okra Bloom?
Here are the most common reasons for non-blooming okra plants:
Time. Flowering should begin around 50 to 65 days after planting, depending on the variety. The plants can then produce pods for 10 to 12 weeks. Okra with no flowers may just require patience.
Not enough sun. Okra is a full-sun plant, and it won’t bloom well unless it has at least 6 to 8 hours of daily sun.
Not enough heat. Okra likes hot weather and won’t do well in cool climates. Don’t try to plant okra when the soil is cooler than 65-70 degrees F. (18-21 degrees C.) in the spring. If your garden is slow to warm up, try starting okra seedlings indoors and carefully transplanting when the soil is warm enough. You can also try some measures to warm the soil in spring, like placing plastic sheeting over the soil. Additionally, look for varieties that are known to do well in your climate.
Lack of water or nutrient imbalance. Non-blooming okra may be suffering from a lack of water. Okra is more drought tolerant than many garden plants, but watering it will keep it healthier and may make it more productive. Also, okra prefers fertilizers that are higher in phosphorus than nitrogen. Excessive nitrogen can prevent flowering, while applying phosphorus fertilizer can promote blooms.
Reasons for No Flowers on Okra That Previously Produced
If okra pods are allowed to mature on the plant, they will inhibit future flowering. For the plant, the goal of flower and fruit production is to provide seeds for reproduction. When mature fruit is left on the plant, it will direct its resources toward seed development, not producing additional flowers.
Be sure to harvest pods promptly when they are the right size to eat, about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm.) long. This is usually after only 2 or 3 days of growth. Remove any older pods that have become too tough to eat so they won’t reduce future bloom and pod production.