105: Growing Okra Tips and Troubleshooting Problems

Okra is one of the gardener’s most beloved and no doubt finds a spot in a sunny location of the garden.

I had experienced especially newbies plant Okra with both excitement and expectation and are often disappointed with how things goes in the real world. The reason being gardeners are unable to understand what Okra plant is trying to communicate. Of course they do communicate with us in a “visual” way! 

Here are some the common issues and ways to correct the problem.


Let’s start with the seeds germination itself – seeds do not germinate when soil temperature is below 70⁰ F. Okra prefer warm temperature, always make sure the soil temperature is above 70⁰ F. In addition you are Pre-soak seeds in water for 24 hours before sowing. This speeds up germination.


Flowers falls down and at times flowers are not turned to pods – There are many factors that causes this problem. 

1. Let’s start with the plant itself, the flowers fall out if they are not pollinated. If the natural pollinators are not around (could be due to temperature or sprayed chemicals) simply hand pollinate using a tooth brush. Do not use any chemicals that repels pollinators at least in the flowering phase.

2. Now, let’s look at the soil condition, if you had amended soil with fertilizer that have Nitrogen (N) ratio then expect the plant to grow lush without pods. Excessive nitrogen inhibits pod formation. 

3. Other factors that inhibit pod formation is the reach of sunlight (requires full sun) and soil moisture levels (requires even moisture). High humidity causes spread of fungal disease.


1. Black spots on the plant stem and leaves – Anthracnose is a fungal disease caused due to high humidity or cause of high rail fall. The plant stem and leaves exhibit black spots, it spreads rapidly to neighboring plants under these conditions. Often this disease kills the plant. Be diligent to remove and throw away every piece of the infected plants from your garden. Avoid working in garden until it is dry to prevent spreading of fungus.

2. Gray circular spots on leaves – This may a fungal disease often referred to as Leaf spot. This is due to the plant varieties susceptible to the disease. Always shop for disease resistant varieties. In addition, proper caring and practicing crop rotation prevents the spread of this disease.

3. Leaves are yellow and brown from the bottom up - Root knot nematode is a microscopic eelworm that attacks roots. Practice crops rotation and be diligent to remove and throw away infected plant debris from the garden.

4. Leaves are deformed, curled and yellow - Aphids are tiny greenish insects that colonize on the undersides of the leaves. They leave behind sticky excrement called honeydew which can turn into a black sooty mold. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to eliminate them.

5. Tiny white insects around the leaves - Whiteflies will colonize on the undersides of leaves and fly up when disturbed. Gently remove and throw away infested leaves from the garden.


1. Holes in pods - Corn earworm is a brown-headed caterpillar with lengthwise stripes to 2 inches long; the adult is a night-flying moth with brownish or olive wings and bright green eyes. The worm will tunnel into pods. Handpick caterpillars and destroy.

2. Deformed pods - Southern green stink bug is a light green bug to ½-inch long. Bug sucks sap from leaves and pods causing them to become twisted and deformed. Spray with insecticidal soap or neem oil to eliminate this problem.

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