Growing okra plants in your backyard is both enjoyable and rewardable.
But soon, it can be worrying when you must deal with gardening issues like discolored foliage, falling leaves, and yellow spots.
Each growing stage of okra has its fair share of challenges, but okra leaves turning yellow are the most difficult of them.
Choosing okra to grow in your house is apt because it is easy. However, certain problems repeatedly often overrule this assumption.
In Short: Overwatering, underwatering, inadequate sunlight, poor soil quality, nutritional deficiency, pests can cause okra plant leaves to turn yellow.
We feel bad to be the bearers of this unwelcome news, but if you notice an okra plant with discolored leaves, it can indicate a more severe problem than expected.
This is due to the causes and reasons that underlie them to turn yellow.
There is not one, but many of them. Understanding the causes behind the yellowing of your okra leaves is important because it is the first step towards creating a successful prevention and treatment plan.
In the following article, we will tell you why your okra plant leaves are turning yellow, how to stop the yellowing of okra plants, how to take care of your okra plants correctly, and much more.
Overwatering and poor drainage results in root rot and yellowing of okra leaves. Report okra in a new pot with well-drained soil and allow the soil to dry between watering.
Okra plant needs at least 6 hours of full sunlight. Inadequate sun exposure also results in yellowing and falling off okra leaves.
Deficiency in essential nutrients like nitrogen, magnesium, and iron can cause okra plant yellowing.
Pests like aphids and verticillium disease can turn okra leaves yellow.
You can revive yellow okra plant leaves with proper care, which I mentioned below.
Why Are My Okra Plant Leaves Turning Yellow: Causes & Tips
Before we know the causes that contribute to the yellowing of Okra plant leaves, let us first revisit why this condition is considered dangerous.
Yellowed leaves of okra plants indicate that they do not have enough chlorophyll to sustain their lives.
Going back to the basics of class 6th, you will know that chlorophyll is a catalyst that converts the incoming sunlight into an edible form for plants.
What would happen if you were not given food for a long time?
The ability to stand strong against diseases and other bacteria gradually reduces to a point where you can no longer survive. Something similar happens to Okra plants.
The leaves become susceptible to pests and diseases, thus declining their natural resistance or immunity to fight, consequently leading to their death.
While some causes of yellowing okra leaves can be quickly remedied, thus saving them before dawn, other causes require a professional or long-term intervention that can be a hassle for gardeners.
Here are some of the most frequent causes for your okra plant leaves turning yellow.
Identify the most suitable of them according to the condition of your plants and choose an appropriate treatment plant eventually.
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1. Poor Quality of Soil
Soil or a potting mixture forms the bed of a plant. They stay there for their entire life.
It is especially important to treat your plant right, and the first step to do so is to provide proper and high-quality soil that is nutrient-dense for your okra plant.
The soil in which your plant stays directly affects the roots of your plant, causing immediate root issues. Enriching your plant with a superior-quality soil involves:
- Setting the right temperature.
- Containing enough nutrients.
- Having an excellent drainage property.
- Not being too arid or soggy.
Okra plants cannot tolerate being planted in soils with a temperature colder than 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you need help arranging your soil’s temperature, try waiting for a week after the last frost.
7-10 days (about 1 and a half weeks) would give enough time for your potting mixture or soil to return to its normal temperature and stay warm.
Not every plant would like to sit in water. Excess watering is common among new gardeners.
Overwatering can be due to excess or repeated watering or choosing the wrong potting soil. Soil that fails to drain excess water often results in this issue.
Soil that does not allow enough water to drain causes root rot, making the leaves yellow.
Add perlite or peat moss to your potting mixture to enhance its drainage properties.
If you cannot arrange the materials, try creating small holes in your plant container to facilitate drainage.
Based on climatic conditions in your region, you must regulate watering frequency.
More water, adequate sunlight, and good fertilizers will reward you with a quality yield.
But, when leaving for vacation or if your growing medium fails to retain moisture, your okra plant may dry.
Drooping and yellow leaves are common signs of underwatering.
To revive, you must water generously and ensure that the soil always stays moist.
Mulching is one of the best ways to lock in moisture for longer.
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5. Lack of Sunlight
As a gardener, you must know the importance of sunlight for growing vegetable plants.
When your okra plant doesn’t get enough sunlight for an extended period, leaves will eventually lose their color and turn pale green to yellow and white. (1)
Okra plants need 5-6 hours of direct sunlight.
If you’re growing okra in a container, shift the location to expose the okra plant to sunlight.
Also Read: How Long Does it Take for Okra to Grow?
6. Fertilizing Okra
Check for soil that does not have enough nutrient content. While the number of micronutrients can vary from one number to another, this should not happen with a major macronutrient, nitrogen.
If your okra plant leaves have suddenly started to turn yellow, try adding nitrogen substitutes to your soil. You can also spray a nitrogen-rich fertilizer on your okra plant to remove the deficiency.
Problems surrounding the yellowing of okra plant leaves can also be treated if the soil needs more organic material.
A potting mixture that needs more room for sufficient organic material tends to create growth problems for the okra plant, thus contributing to yellow leaves.
To get the best returns from the soil you are using and prevent the yellowing of your okra plant leaves, cultivating the ground as deeply as possible is especially important.
It is suggested that you turn over the topmost 7 to 11 inches of the soil properly before you plant your okras in the soil. This ensures maximum growth and a smooth flow of nutrients from the soil to the leaves.
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7. Fungal Infection
Fungal diseases, commonly known as fungal infections or fungi, are one of the most obvious reasons your okra plant leaves turn yellow.
With or without enough food, the okra plant shows absolutely zero resistance to fungal infections caused by verticillium wilt. Thus, it can be safely concluded that okra plants are 100% vulnerable to the trap of fungal infections.
Two symptoms inform us that a fungus has attacked the plant. One, the roots start to become excessively weak. Second, the plant above the ground, including stems and leaves, turns yellow.
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Fungus is attracted by soil with poor drainage quality, soggy soil, or root rots. While one needs to be especially careful during the monsoon season, the care of plants should be considered at other parts of the year.
If you suspect your plant of being a victim of fungus, you can prevent the yellowing of leaves and further damage to the roots by constantly checking the lower side of the leaves to show symptoms.
If not taken care of, the yellowing of leaves due to fungal infection will soon turn into the death of these leaves. So, how to treat the infection?
The sad news is that there have been no traces of a chemical treatment that can treat the fungal infection caused on your okra plant by verticillium wilt.
You cannot use any insecticides, pesticides, or spot treatment options on your plant’s leaves and expect it to show results because it will not.
If you want to reduce the intensity of how badly verticillium wilt affects your plant, you can start by solarizing the top side of your okra plant leaves.
Note that you should completely cover the top layer of your leaves with a plastic sheet before heating it.
A consistent approach should reduce the negative impact of the fungal infection on your plant to a larger extent.
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Nematodes can be understood as a roundworm that bore deep into the plant’s roots and damaged them from the inside.
A major challenge these roundworms produce is that they are significantly small and difficult to spot.
As the plant’s wounds begin to heal, the plant starts forming unusual conditions like galls or root knots. These conditions invite the presence and unfortunate breeding of nematodes.
As the plant root becomes affected by nematodes, it significantly loses the power to extract water and other nutrients from the soil.
Their inability to fetch sufficient water renders the plant a yellow color, indicating that there is no food left.
If not observed in its earliest stage, okra plants can die after excessive yellowing. Researchers have been trying to formulate a chemical treatment that is proven effective against breeding roundworms like nematodes.
Professionals have not yet approved a treatment plan to treat nematodes on your okra plants. However, you can try and control the spread of nematodes from one okra plant to another.
One way to practice preventing and reducing the effects of nematodes on your okra plants is through crop rotation.
Planting your newly bought okra plants after the yield of other plants, including, but not limited to, corn, brassicas, or onions, is an effective way to keep nematodes away from your plants.
Another way is to turn the plants under the cover cropping of marigolds. It keeps all types of roundworms away until the marigolds are frequently replaced with new ones.
Lastly, suppose you feel that the planting conditions of your okra plant are far away from inviting nematodes. In that case, you can plan and keep your plants healthier to completely reduce the possibility of a nematode attack. One way is to add humus to the potting mixture.
Tilling the ground frequently with the right equipment and modern-day technology is a widely recognized way of maintaining good plant health and keeping worms at bay.
9. Perpetuating Insects
Perpetuating insects cause insect problems in the okra plant, thus avoiding the much-needed nutrition and water requirements.
In the case of okra plants, sucking insects are the ones that attack them. These insects are the key reasons the plant has a deficiency of vigor. If not paid enough attention to, they die immediately.
Sucking insects differ in the kind they look and attack. Red spider mites are the most common insects found on okra plants. They suck on the plant’s sap, causing a yellow or whitish uneven pattern on the leaves.
If the attack of insects is intense and the plant cannot bear it, it causes the shriveling and browning of leaves at the edges, causing death.
Aphids are another type of insects that focus on extracting the nourishment and hydrating properties of the plant by sucking from leaves as well as stems. The lack of water causes the yellowing of okra plant leaves.
If you suspect your okra plant has any underlying insect problem, it is advised to carefully inspect the bottom side of the leaves and look for a usual pattern on the same. Any abnormalities reveal that you should start seeking treatment plans immediately.
Why Are My Okra Seedlings Yellow?
The seedling stage of the okra plant is more vulnerable to diseases and pest attacks.
Yellow vein mosaic virus is one such disease that attacks okra seedlings, resulting in yellow veins. If not diagnosed and prevented at the time, okra leaf can turn yellow completely.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this disease. You must take utmost care to prevent such diseases.
There are, of course, not just 4 reasons for your yellowed okra plant leaves, but they constitute about 80 percent of those reasons.
Addressing the causes leads us to develop a comprehensive approach to properly caring for your okra plants. If followed seriously, they can also cure other perpetuating problems that come around now and then.
Other causes for the okra plant leaves turning yellow include too much or too little sunlight, overwatering, underwatering, and not following a good fertilizer.
Okra plants come in the category of forgiving houseplants that revive their growth if given ample care at the right time.