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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 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 in 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 the 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, 3-4 inches 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 apart and then transplant pepper plants between the thinned okra.
Why peppers? Peppers repel cabbage worms, which love to feed on young okra foliage. Finally, tomatoes, peppers, beans and other vegetables are a great food source for stink bugs. Planting okra near these garden crops draws these pests away from your other crops.
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.