Sow from March to April in small pots or seedtrays, either in a propagator or covered with a clear polythene bag, and keep above 16°C (60°F). .
Introducing a whopping new variety of okra – and how to grow it
Okra, or ‘lady’s fingers’, so-called because of its delicate finger-like shape, is back in the spotlight after becoming a highlight of RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021.“Okra is becoming more and more popular as a vegetable, not only to grow but also to eat,” says Simon Crawford of plant breeding and seed sales company Burpee Europe.Previously, this staple of Asian diets has not been bred for greenhouse production, and so was nearly impossible to grow in the UK.Okra ‘Bhut Bhindi’ was selected by the Burpee breeding team in Bangalore because of its vigour, colour and cold tolerance.After testing this okra in the UK it was found to be extremely vigorous and highly suitable in colder conditions, the most fitting for this climate.Sow March to April in seed trays or small potsKeep covered by clear polythene and around 16COnce you see the seedlings emerge, take away cover and place in a light warm areaWhen seedlings are large enough, move to 10cm potsMake sure compost is kept moist but do not overwaterSuitable for unheated greenhouse growing in UKRequires full sun and some warmth in the growing seasonGrows to 1.5 metres tallHow is ‘Bhut Bhindi’ best served? .
Okra Grow Guide
Rich, well draining, moisture-retentive soil with plenty of compost dug in.Soak seeds in water overnight before planting them 2cm (1 in) deep and 15cm (6 in) apart in warm soil after last frosts.Our Garden Planner can produce a personalised calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.Requires warm temperatures to give a good yield.Wear gloves if handling the plants when wet gives you an allergic reaction. .
How to Grow Okra
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), native to Africa and related to hibiscus, arrived in North America in the 1600s.This edible green seed pods quickly became popular in the Deep South as both a side dish and a thickening for gumbo and stews.It will grow in ordinary garden soil but does best in fertile loam, particularly where a nitrogen-fixing crop — such as early peas — grew previously.When seeding okra directly in the ground, wait until after the soil has warmed and the air temperature reaches at least 60 degrees.In areas with long, hot summers, cut the plants back almost to ground level in midsummer and fertilize to produce a second crop.They're tough when mature, so harvest daily with a sharp knife when they are no more than finger-sized and stems are still tender and easy to cut.This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. .
Growing Okra Plants
Growing okra requires warm weather, but by using seedlings, you can shave 3 weeks or more from its usual long season.As long as okra seedlings are handled gently, as if they were breakable eggs, they can be slipped into the garden – or into large containers – just as the hot season begins.For the best results, begin with vigorous okra starter plants from Bonnie Plants®, the company that has been helping home gardeners succeed for over a century.Space okra plants 10 inches apart in a very sunny area that has fertile, well-drained soil with a neutral pH of 6.5 to 7.0.Okra loves the heat and can withstand a dry spell, but do your best to give plants 1 inch of water every week.Water the little plants if rain is not expected, but wait a few days before mulching to give the soil a chance to absorb the sun's warmth.The early growth of okra is often slow, but the plants grow much faster once summer starts sizzling.In addition to gaining height, okra's leaves get bigger as the plants grow and begin producing yellow blossoms followed by tender pods.Warm weather helps pods grow quickly, so check plants every day once they start producing.This raised bed with dwarf okra provides good drainage, improved soil, and easy access.By the end of the season, full-sized okra plants will tower overhead as these do at the edge of a tree and shrub border. .
Okra Grows Up North
It seems to be an unusual plant for a northern garden, with its beautiful, pale-yellow blooms that look a lot like hibiscus flowers.But lately, gardeners north and south have been hearing a lot more about okra, thanks to ‘Cajun Delight’ receiving an All-America Selection award last year.A native of Africa, okra prefers the warmth and sun of the South but will produce in any climate where tomatoes, corn, and melons can be grown.Here in Maine, okra can be seeded in the garden in early- to mid-June but the harvest period, which begins in mid-August, may be cut short by a September frost.This doesn’t mean that seeds from other parts of the country won’t perform, but any information a local company provides helps predict how a variety will grow in my garden.If flowers form, they may not produce enough pollen to set seeds, and the resulting underdeveloped pods are apt to fall off.If you don’t have a mat, soak the seeds overnight and expect germination in about five days at room temperature.Place two or three seeds in each cell and once they have sprouted, keep them under grow lights or in a sunny window.On days when I plan to be away for awhile, I put a window screen, supported by the sides of the cold frame, over the seedlings.If you don’t have a cold frame, keep your seedlings in a bright place until the days get warm enough to set them out.In the garden, okra demands a sunny spot, preferably in well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 8.Compost is beneficial, but don’t add too much nitrogen before the plants have set fruit or you’ll have lots of foliage at the expense of flowers.Water the seedlings with a high-phosphorus solution, which helps with flower production, and fertilize monthly with a foliar fish spray.To give okra the warmth it loves, use black plastic mulch and row covers.I find plastic mulch useful for direct seeding in the garden, but it can be a little awkward when transplanting.Floating row covers will raise the temperature of the bed a bit and still allow water to pass through.Clear plastic row covers raise the temperature even more, but they have to be removed to water the plants.Support either type of row cover with wire hoops and secure it with clips or clothespins.Fortunately, once the seedlings establish themselves, they rapidly outgrow the grasp of future cutworms.In our relatively short growing season, I’ve yet to experiment with either approach, but in a warmer climate, it may be worth the effort.I’ve heard that pruned plants tend to bush out, making harvesting a prickly affair.Even the spineless varieties have scratchy leaves (like squash plants) so wear long sleeves and gloves if your skin is sensitive, or use the grin-and-bear-it approach and expect the itching to last half an hour.The pods grow on fairly thick stalks so use a sharp knife or scissors to cut them off, including about an inch of stem.Then dry the pods in a warm place, and shell the seeds for next year’s crop.Most people think okra seeds came to America in the hands of the Africans packed in the holds of ships and bound for slavery in the 1660s.During the Civil War, Confederate troops had to substitute okra seeds for coffee beans.The seeds were roasted and ground, and probably made pretty poor coffee, though some folks still recommend it.Okra is best known as the main ingredient in gumbo, a stew that makes good use of the great thickening power of the gooey liquid inside the pods.The result is not a pretty sight, and this beautiful, healthful plant deserves a bit more consideration. .
The 13 Best Okra Varieties for Your Vegetable Patch
Okra, Abelmoschus esculentus, is a flowering annual that bears edible pods and grows in all USDA Hardiness Zones.In this article, we offer thirteen delicious and attractive types of okra from which to choose, to introduce this plant to your outdoor landscape.For those in the North, like me, choose those with the shortest dates to maturity, and start seeds indoors to maximize growing time before temps turn chilly.Unless you want to feature the pods on plants grown as ornamental specimens without picking them, length need not be a factor in product selection.Descriptions of the tallest plants are sometimes non-specific with reference to mature diameters (i.e. the full habit), so a good rule of thumb is to allow for a width as wide as the maximum height.As you shop, you’ll find dwarf varieties that grow to three or four feet tall with three-inch pods, and tree-sized plants with fruits up to 14 inches long.I like plants that are both decorative and functional, and from a floral design perspective, nothing is as exciting as a crop of dry pods to spray gold and feature in a holiday arrangement. .
Growing Okra In Pots
Its delicate foliage and showy blooms look like hibiscus, making it a great ornamental plant as well!It is best to select a black-colored pot if you live in a cold climate, as okra loves heat, and the color black absorbs it.If you live in a climate with short summers, search for varieties that mature fast.The best okra planting time is when the temperature starts to stay above 55-60 F (13-16 C) after all the dangers of frost have passed.Growing okra is possible year-round if you live in USDA Zones 9-11 or other subtropical or tropical regions.Baby Bubba Hybrid, Cajun Delight, Blondy, Perkins Long Pod, Silver Queen, Clemson Spineless, and Star of David are the best ones you can grow for a plentiful harvest.Pick a spot that receives full sun (at least 5-6 hours of sunlight is essential).You can also add plenty of compost or aged cow manure to provide a constant supply of nutrients to your okra plant.Water regularly to keep the soil uniformly wet and particularly more from the beginning of the flowering period until production.The plant can grow above 50 F (10 C), but to flower and bear fruit abundantly, the temperature must be around 70 to 95 F (21-35 C) ideally.Keep in mind that if the soil is nitrogen-rich, it may promote vegetative growth at the expense of fruiting, so maintain the balance.Okra is susceptible to fusarium wilt, nematode attack, aphids, and whiteflies.It blooms about two months from planting, and fruits start to appear 5-7 days after flowering, but you will have to wait till they become 3-5 inches long. .
Can okra be grown in pots?
For best results, a five-gallon pot that is ten to 12 inches deep with a similar diameter is the perfect size for a single okra plant.When picking out your seeds, look for a dwarf okra variety that will not grow larger than five feet tall.Growing okra year-round is possible if you live in a subtropical or tropical region, or in USDA zones 9-11.Like other prolific southern vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers, okra needs lots of sunlight to thrive.Otherwise, you can add in a lot of organic matter, such as compost, or aged-manure to give a constant supply of essential nutrients to your okra plants.Later on in the growing process, feed the plant with lower nitrogen fertilizers instead of balanced blends, like a 5-10-15, or 6-12-12.Okra is often plagued by fusarium wilt and is also susceptible to attacks from nematodes, aphids, and whiteflies.These problems are usually only an issue when growing okra in large quantities, however, and should be easy to control in smaller container gardens. .
How to Grow Okra in Your Home Veggie Patch
Rich in fiber, protein, and vitamins A, C, and K, okra is not only a nutritious addition to veggie gardens, but makes an attractive specimen in beds and borders, with varieties ranging from dwarf to over eight feet tall at maturity.Pods may be green or red; curved or straight; with or without ridges; and smooth or covered in tiny fuzzy “spines.”.Gardeners often prefer “spineless” varieties, because these protrusions commonly cause itching and irritation when okra is harvested and prepared.Prepare seeds for planting by scraping each lightly with a nail file and soaking in tap water overnight.In warm climates, direct sow in the early spring garden when soil temperatures are at least 60°F, to a depth of about one inch.Around mid-summer, you may prune tall varieties to encourage further growth, and you can also choose to plant a fresh crop at that time for a late harvest.In cold regions, like mine in the Northeast, you’ll have to wait a little longer for the soil to warm up enough for direct sowing outdoors, at least two weeks after the last frost date, maybe more.Extreme weather fluctuations can affect this plant, causing flowers and buds to drop, or pods to fail to form.Avoid the need for troubleshooting later with crop rotation, high quality seed, ample air circulation, and appropriate moisture.Walk through your garden each day, and be on the lookout for aphids and stink bugs feeding on the juices of emerging pods.Hand picking insects or dousing them with a steady stream of hose water is usually all that’s needed to avoid an infestation.Okra is a cultigen, meaning it has been improved upon via selective breeding and hybridization for many generations, to produce the most delicious harvests and attractive, resilient plants.You’ll find an array of cultivars available from all over the world that includes heirloom species and hybrid varieties.To save your skin, look for spineless varieties – but keep in mind that no cultivar is truly entirely free of those potentially irritating little hairs that grow on the plant.Plant Type: Annual Tolerance: Drought Native to: Tropical Africa and Asia Maintenance: Moderate; keep free from weeds Hardiness (USDA Zone): 9-12 Soil Type: Loamy Season: Summer Soil pH: Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline, 6.5-7.5 Exposure: Full sun Soil Drainage: Well-draining Time to Maturity: 50-60 days, depending on cultivar Companion Planting: Melons, cucumbers, sweet peppers, eggplant Spacing: Thin to 12 inches Avoid Planting With: Short, sun loving veggies and flowers whose light may be blocked Planting Depth: 1 inch or less Order: Malvales Height: 3-6 feet Family: Malvaceae Spread: 12-48 inches depending on cultivar Genus: Abelmoschus Water Needs: Moderate, every 7-10 days Species: esculentus Common Pests: Aphids, armyworms, cabbage loopers, corn earworms, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, stink bugs, thrips, root knot nematodes, spider mites Common Disease: Charcoal rot, fusarium wilt, powdery mildew, southern blight, white mold, yellow vein mosaic virus.Whether you cultivate it as a vegetable for the table, or a decorative specimen in beds and borders, it’s going to make a bold statement in your outdoor living space.Easy to grow and virtually trouble free with the right conditions, okra’s hibiscus-like yellow blossoms and pods of striking proportions offer season-long interest, and the opportunity for gardening fun with the family. .