The okra or by its scientific name Abelmoschus esculentus, is a tropical plant that can reach 2 meters in height, native to the African continent. Although it is annual, if the climate characteristics are favorable, it could be bi-annual or even perennial. Its popularity is given by its edible fruit, which slowly begins to be used in kitchens around the world. During this post, we will look at how you should use fertilizer for okra, what type is ideal to use, and some basic care for good growth.
1. NPK values – What is its meaning?
If you ever had to go buy a fertilizer in a nursery, and you don’t have much experience, you may have been confused when choosing between one package or another. Perhaps the only notable variation that existed between one package and another was three numbers separated by a hyphen.
If you didn’t ask the seller what exactly those three numbers are, you may still have doubts. Well it’s your lucky day, here we will answer that question.
The three numbers on a fertilizer package are what are known as NPK values. The letter N is given by nitrogen, the P by phosphorus and the K by potassium, these three being the most necessary nutrients for plants.
So these NPK numbers represent the percentage of the total of each nutrient. Explaining in one example, in a 1 kg fertilizer package of a 10-5-15 mix, 10% is nitrogen (i.e. 100 g of the total), 5% is occupied by phosphorus (50 g) and 15% potassium (150 g).
As you may have noticed, it is a fairly simple concept. With this already learned, we can continue with our article on okras.
2. Feeding your okra plant
Although fertilization is an important point in the development of a crop, only with fertilizers a plant cannot grow. needs other foods such as sunlight, water, soil and various basic care.
We will start by looking at some essential tips for a good cultivation of your okra plant, and then we will delve into the main topic, fertilization.
2.1 How to grow
Below we will list the basic points that you must carry out to carry out the cultivation. Note that they are not ordered by priority, each is as important as the other.
The most favorable climate for these plants is tropical and temperate, with ideal temperatures above 20 ° C. In areas with prolonged summers, it grows much better.
As a consequence of the low cold tolerance, we must wait until spring to sow. Depending on where you live, it may be mid to late spring, waiting until the soil has warmed up enough.
The depth at which the seed must be sown is 8-10 cm, and each plant must be separated at a distance of between 30-60 cm. To ensure correct germination, we can sow 3 seeds per hole, eliminating the weakest ones after germination.
During planting it is good to always keep the soil moist, although without causing waterlogging. If you then transplant the seedlings, you should also do it with plenty of watering.
Both in the flowering season and in the formation of the fruit, you must be much more careful when making excessive buds. This is because they are plants very prone to fungal attacks.
If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.
2.1.4 Diseases and pests
Among the pests and diseases that can be considered most common to attack the okras are the following:
- White fly.
- Fusarium fungi.
Try to carry out regular checks to be able to solve any of these problems in time. Any pest or disease that takes time to be found can cause irreversible damage.
In general, and if the plant has been properly cared for, it can be harvested after 60-70 days after planting. At this time, its fruits will already be 10 cm long, they will be tender and stringy.
Keep in mind that sharp hairs come off during harvest, which can be very harmful to your hands if you don’t wear gloves. In addition to gloves, it is good to harvest with the help of pruning shears, this allows to remove the fruits without damaging the plant.
2.1.6 Soil and fertilization
They adapt to a large number of soil types, the most important condition being that they are well drained. If we must name its ideal soil, it is the one rich in organic matter and potassium.
As for the fertilization of the okras, it is not too demanding, but if we want to improve the harvest, it is good to do it at certain times. We will detail all this in the following sections.
2.2 Best fertilizer for okra
As we have just said, okras are a crop that does not need fertilizers and can develop correctly if the soil is fertile. Now, in case the soil is somewhat poor, or if we want better yields in the harvest, there are some fertilizers that can be of help.
First, and as the most recommended is the use of a well-balanced inorganic fertilizer. When I say balanced, I mean the three main nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, a 10-10-10 mix is ideal. We already studied in the first section what the NPK values are so that you understand what I am talking about. 😉
Another option that at certain times can help improve the growth of this plant is some organic fertilizer. Here you can find a lot of variety, to name the most common; natural manure and animal manure.
Okras may also need a supply of magnesium, especially to aid flowering. More specifically, prevent the flowers from falling without first producing the fruit. The use of Epsom salts can provide the necessary magnesium.
Finally, in the search to control the pH of the soil (prefers a pH in the range of 6-7), you can make different additions to increase and decrease this value. For this, you can use sulfur if you want to lower the pH or add lime if you need to raise it.
3. How and when to fertilize okra
Fertilization should start before planting this crop, add 10-10-10 mix fertilizer to the soil. When placing it, make it to a depth of about 4 inches, with a dose of 3 ounces per 100 square feet. Regarding this last detail, it is always good before reviewing the recommendations for use in the container.
Once the first fertilization has been carried out, you must wait until the plant has developed sufficiently to carry out a second application. Measure the plant and if you have already reached 8 inches, you can make a new addition of fertilizer. After this, it should be observed if the development of their okras is correct, being able to make new applications every 4 or 6 weeks in the seasons of greatest development.
You can change any of the 10-10-10 fertilizer applications for an organic one (for example, manure, compost). Remember that these release nutrients much more slowly, so you should wait a few more weeks for the next application. Always remember not to put these fertilizers in contact with the stem of the plant, as it can damage it.
As for the use of Epsom salts, you can add a tablespoon in a spray bottle and add warm water. Then mix well and spray the foliage and flowers of the plant. Remember that with this what we are looking for is to improve the flowering, so it is at that moment when it should be applied.
Whenever you are going to fertilize, no matter what fertilizer you use for okra, accompany this process with good irrigation, the water ensures a better dissolution. Although the water is good, in the case of a very heavy rain, it can cause the removal of fertilizers (especially if it has been recently placed). If this happens, you may need to re-fertilize.
As a last tip, and if you do not know the characteristics of the soil, it is good to observe the development of the plant before fertilizing. It is easier to correct nutrient deficiency problems than problems caused by excess fertilizer.
4. Fertilizer for okra video
To finish with the article, and as usual in this blog, we will leave a video of the Daniel Preach channel. In it you will see how to fertilize your okras through a 13-13-13 mixture. You will notice that I recommend a 10-10-10, but the important thing is that it is equally balanced and provides similar amounts of nutrients, making it an equally valid blend.
Well, and with this video we have already finished the publication. I hope it has been useful and you have no doubts about how and when to fertilize an okra.