The Effect of Fertilizer Application on Okra


Okra--called gumbo in some southern states and Caribbean countries--is a member of the cotton family. Originally grown along the Nile River in Egypt, okra plants grow well in warm weather and sandy, well-drained soil.

Soil pH

Okra prefers to grow in soil that is neutral or slightly "sour," meaning a soil that has a pH lower than 6.0. Preferred pH levels for okra are 5.8 to 6.5; proper fertilization can adjust these levels.


North Carolina State University's horticulture department recommends applying a 10-20-10 nitrogen-phosphate-potash fertilizer to okra plants. Okra grows best in phosphate-rich soil.


While adding nitrogen to the soil benefits okra plants, an application of too much nitrogen too soon after planting may interfere with production of the okra pods during fruiting.


Properly fertilized okra results in plants with deep, green leaves and sturdy stems. When fertilized with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer at the appropriate time, the nutritional value of okra pods also increases, according to a study published in the Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences.

When to Fertilize

Apply small amounts of phosphate-rich fertilizer to the soil before planting. Amounts are usually indicated on bags or packages of fertilizer. Once blooms begin to form, use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to encourage the formation of strong, healthy okra pods.


  • University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: Okra
  • Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences: Filed Study on Bio-Inoculants and Nitrogen Fertilizer on Okra Growth
  • Clemson Extension: Okra

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina State University: home Garden Okra
Keywords: fertilizer effects okra, phosphate, nitrogen-rich fertilizer, okra soil pH, gumbo

About this Author

Mary Osborne has been an educational quiz writer for more than eight years and a short-fiction writer for more than 20 years. She also reads and scores essays for several standardized tests and has written and illustrated two children's books. Her short stories have appeared in literary journals such as "The Minnesota Review" and in the "Orlando Sentinel" newspaper.