Okra is a low-maintenance and delicious plant to grow. Though it doesn’t take much work, many backyard gardeners find themselves in trouble with yellow buds that fall off their plants. Several things could cause this, but a thorough investigation should solve the problem.
To fix okra buds that are turning yellow and falling off::
- Plan ahead for ideal conditions.
- Adjust water intake.
- Add or remove shade.
- Check pH.
- Move indoors.
- Check for diseases.
You can try each of the six things on this list to prevent your okra buds from turning yellow and falling off, but it’ll save you time to get right to the source of the issue right off the bat. Below, I’ll explain why okra buds turn yellow and fall off. Then, I’ll go through each of the six steps above thoroughly.
Why Are My Okra Buds Turning Yellow and Falling Off?
Typically, your okra buds will be a white or pale yellow once they bloom, with a gorgeous maroon-colored center. The leaves are as strong as their fruit and are often hard to prune. So if they’re falling off on their own and your buds are becoming uncharacteristically yellow, you probably already know something is wrong.
Your okra buds may turn yellow and fall off because conditions aren’t ideal. The buds may struggle if they’re too hot, too cold, underwatered, or overwatered. Stressed plants often wilt and drop their leaves or buds.
Several things can be stressing your plant out. You’d consider watering, weather, sunlight, pH, and nutrient availability. Additionally, if you’ve recently moved your plants or pruned them, note how long afterward your plants started wilting. Sometimes, the stress can be caused by a disease.
While you can follow each of the six steps below to help your okra plant, you’ll get things done quicker if you can pinpoint what’s causing the yellowing buds and falling leaves. Investigate:
- pH level
- Moisture intake
- Heat/soil temperature
- Possible symptoms of diseases
If you still aren’t finding anything, you can just try each step until the problem is solved.
1. Plan Ahead for Ideal Conditions
First and foremost, you’ll want to plan your garden according to the ideal conditions of an okra plant.
- Full sunlight
- Drier soil
- Weekly watering
I know, if you’re already having problems with your okra, this piece of advice is useless to you. However, if your okra plant isn’t growing in the right spot, you’ll likely lose the crop anyways. During your next growing season, make sure that you’re growing your okra in the right place.
The right place for okra will be a spot with full sun that isn’t susceptible to flooding or overwatering.
You’re much more likely to overwater your okra plant than underwater, so pick the spot accordingly. A place at the bottom of your gardening hill won’t be ideal, as run-off will likely flood the plants. If you have an irrigation system (which can be great for your garden), put your okra near your minimally watered plants.
Planning can save you headaches in the long run, but if you’ve already got the headache, don’t worry! All isn’t lost. You can save okra in unideal conditions with simple adjustments.
Water less if your okra is in a moist spot in your garden, trim shady tree branches if your okra isn’t in full sun, and add compost or mulch to soak up extra moisture. These fixes are even easier if you’re growing your okra in a container. Simply move the plants!
2. Adjust Water Intake
A plant that loses leaves may indicate it’s stressed, and one of the common causes of stress is over or underwatering.
Water intake is critical for okra plants, but only because they require little water. Okra grows heartily in the south and is native to Africa. For this reason, okra is okay with drier soil and needs only one watering a week in a moderately dry climate.
If you’re getting tons of rain, overwatering may be your problem. Cover your okra plants with a shade or protective layer, or move them inside (into a warmer part of your home) until the weather has gone back to normal.
I recommend using a moisture meter or the toothpick test to see if you’re watering your okra enough. To do the toothpick test, you’ll just stick a toothpick or a bamboo stick into your plant’s soil and pull it out.
If it’s bone dry, your okra needs more water. If it’s a little dirty, the moisture level is good. If it’s muddy, or you’ve noticed upon poking that your soil is wet, it’s either compacted, or you’re overwatering.
A moisture meter is also an excellent tool, and you’ll have to buy it online or at your local garden store. There are moisture meters to fit most budgets, and it’ll be worth it. You insert the moisture meter, check the screen, and adjust water intake accordingly. The newer moisture meters can also check pH and sunlight.
3. Add or Remove Shade
Okra loves the heat! Okra needs full sun and lots of heat to grow. If you live in a cooler climate and temperatures are dropping anywhere below 65° F (18° C), this is probably the reason your okra is struggling.
Most people plant okra mid-summer if they live in a mild climate because they’ll be able to grow a total yield before the coolness of the spring or fall takes them out.
In a warmer climate, you can start your okra in spring. Regardless, the temperature of your garden could be causing an incredible amount of stress to your okra and making the buds yellow or the leaves wilt.
If you’ve planted your okra in a shady area where they can’t get any sun, you need to move the plant. Whether this means moving your okra across the garden (which is easiest if they’re in pots) or trimming some tree leaves, your okra will appreciate it.
It’s rare, but if you’re experiencing scorching conditions that overheat your okra, you may need to add more shade. Okra may drop buds in temperatures over 95° F (35° C).
If the weather gets that hot in your area, place something over your okra to give it more shade and water it more frequently (around twice a week or any time the leaves curl in).
4. Check pH
The pH balance in your garden is essential for plant happiness, but it’s often the most neglected factor in cultivating a garden. pH determines whether or not your plants can absorb all of the nutrients in your soil. If you’ve been working hard to add nitrogen or phosphorus, but your pH is highly acidic or alkaline, your plant won’t get any yummy nutrients.
Your okra likes to have a slightly acidic pH, something between 6.0 and 6.8. They also enjoy more nitrogen-rich soil. You can test your soil pH with a test kit or with a moisture meter if it has that functionality. If the pH is off, you can solve your yellow flower and falling leaves problem by adjusting the pH accordingly.
5. Move Indoors
Unfortunately, this advice only works for those of you who are container gardening your okra. Excess rain or cold temperatures will cause okra to wilt, and it’ll also make the leaves fall off, stressing the buds out to the point of yellowing.
If the weather is too extreme for your okra plants, move your okra into your house until the bad weather has subsided. You can place the pot on a heat mat to keep the soil warm and take it out when it’s sunny.
Moving your okra around might not solve all your problems, but it’ll be more productive than letting it freeze or drown.
6. Check for Diseases
You may have noticed the falling leaves or yellowing buds because they were the symptoms right in front of you. However, ask yourself this: is there anything else funky going on?
Check for other symptoms of common okra diseases.
Okra is susceptible to:
- Cotton root rot
- Fusarium Wilt
- Root-Knot Nematode
- Southern Blight
You can rule out cotton root rot, as leaves don’t typically fall off with this disease. However, the yellowing may indicate you have fusarium wilt if your plants have also been dying and dissection of the root shows some uncharacteristic darkness.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to stop fusarium. You can try to prune off the mushy roots, but the chances of success are pretty low (although there’s a slim chance you could save your okra.).
The only solution for the disease is to rotate your crops seasonally so they don’t become susceptible to the rot again.
If your okra’s buds turn yellow and fall off, your plant is stressed. Conditions that commonly stress okra are improper placement, over or underwatering, inappropriate sunlight exposure, imbalance soil PH, or severe weather. However, root rot and fusarium wilt can also shrivel up your okra buds.
A thorough investigation is for a timely solution. If you’re okay with checking out your systems and routines, you could go through the six steps. There’s no harm in checking all of the above!