Gardeners in the southern United States usually reserve a spot to grow okra, because it's a staple in southern cooking.Growing okra.Okra will grow in many soil types, so mulch and fertilize as needed.Regular watering is needed and is particularly critical during flowering and pod development.During extended dry spells, a weekly deep soaking is beneficial.It grows and bears seed pods until frost, which quickly turns them black and kills them.Start harvesting a few days after the okra blooms fade.At that point the seed pods should be soft and two to three inches long.Pick the pods at least every other day, as they quickly turn from tender to tough the bigger they grow. .
How Do I Grow Okra?
Okra is a vegetable you either like or you don’t, though we can all agree it provides great ornamental value to any landscape.Okra seeds pods are great roasted, grilled, braised, sauteed or fried and can also be used in a number of dishes, including stew and gumbo.Although it grows over a wide range — from zone 4 to 11 — don’t sow seeds outdoors or plant out seedlings until all risk of spring frost has passed.Ensure the seed starting mix is warm enough by using a seedling heat mat with a thermostat.By the end of this period the plants will be ready to receive a full day of direct sun.Okra requires full sun and will grow best in soil with a pH that is close to neutral, which is 7.0, so anything from 6.0 to 8.0 will work.Water immediately upon planting and cover the ground with a layer of two to three inches of organic mulch.Mulch will retain moisture between waterings and will keep the soil warm on cool nights.All varieties of okra — also known as okro, ochro and ladies’ fingers — are the same species, Abelmoschus esculentus.In the North, it’s wise to choose varieties that are intended for a short growing season.It is high yielding and matures early, making it a great choice for cooler climates.Candle Fire is a hybrid okra with smooth, round red pods that mature in just 30 days from transplanting.Clemson Spineless is an open-pollinated variety with light green pods that have between five and eight points, and cream-colored edible flowers.It’s the gold standard for “painless picking.” These are better for the South, since they take 60 days to mature from transplanting.Jambalaya is a green hybrid okra that thrives in shorter growing seasons, maturing in 50 days from transplanting.Red Velvet grows 4 to 5 feet tall with pods that are slightly ribbed and best enjoyed when 3 to 6 inches long.Adding finished compost or organic matter at planting time will give okra much of the fertility it needs to get through the season, but a light monthly application of organic fertilizer will increase yield.As they eat plant leaves they excrete honeydew, which attracts ants and other insects.They are easily controlled by knocking them off plants with a sharp stream of water.Handpick eggs on stems and under leaves, and pick off any caterpillars, which may be green or black and gray.Bt is an organic control for moth and butterfly larvae that is safe around humans and pets and will not harm other wildlife.Just be sure not to apply it around butterfly larvae host plants such as milkweed and fennel.Blossom blight may occur when temperatures are high and there has been a lot of rain.Starting off with compost-rich soil in the ground or premium-potting mix in containers is the best proactive defense against wilt.Proper spacing of plants to provide air circulation can stop powdery mildew from becoming an issue.A solution of baking soda or diluted milk can slow the spread or be used as a preventative measure.Root knot nematode is a tiny worm that parasitizes okra.Sign up to receive gardening resources, eBooks and email updates on the joegardener podcast and more.None of the items included in this list have any bearing on any compensation being an influencing factor on their inclusion here.The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast were based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship.At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Rain Bird, Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Exmark, Greenhouse Megastore, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Territorial Seed Company, Wild Alaskan Seafood Box and TerraThrive. .
Growing Okra Plants
Choose your sunniest spot for growing okra, and wait until the weather is warm to set out your plants.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.In addition to gaining height, okra’s leaves get bigger as the plants grow and begin producing yellow blossoms followed by tender pods. .
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.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.If you garden in the South, all varieties should serve you well, as okra loves heat, humidity, and a long growing season.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 Family: Malvaceae Spread: 12-48 inches depending on cultivar Genus: Abelmoschus Planting Depth: 1 inch or less Species: A. esculentus Water Needs: Moderate, every 7-10 days Pests & Diseases: Aphids, armyworms, cabbage loopers, corn earworms, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, stink bugs, thrips, root knot nematodes, spider mites, 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.
Okra: Plant Care & Growing Guide
Some gardeners like to soak the seeds in water the night before planting, but you should get good germination if you simply keep the soil moist until the seedlings emerge.Thin seedlings to 18 to 24 inches apart when they are roughly 4 to 6 inches tall to give the plants room to branch.You'll have the strongest plants and the most pods if you plant your okra in full sun.For best yields, water well at least every seven to 10 days if you haven't had rainfall.They also excel in dry conditions but still grow perfectly well in humid climates.Okra Varieties.Consider these okra varieties:.' is an heirloom variety that has deep reddish seed pods that lose some of the color with cooking.It is a larger variety, growing 4 to 5 feet high.It is a larger variety, growing 4 to 5 feet high. '.' has especially long seed pods at 7 to 9 inches.Okra pods are best when picked young.They are most tender when they’re 2 to 4 inches long and as wide as a pinkie finger.However, if growing conditions are good, even larger okra pods can still be tender and edible.Use a quality organic potting mix, and keep the soil lightly moist but not soggy.Pods left on the plants to mature and dry can be harvested for their seeds. .
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. .
Both beautiful and productive, okra can be harvested for several weeks throughout the summer.Time of Planting.Because okra germinates and grows best when planted in soil that has warmed above 80 degrees F, northern gardeners often start seeds in flats and transplant seedlings when the weather heats up.When and How to Harvest.Okra pods are harvested for eating when they are young and immature, just after the flowers fade.Okra pods can be harvested every few days with pruning shears or a sharp knife.If pods are longer than 5 inches, they might be tough, though there are some varieties that grow longer than others and these may still be tender.Refrigerate okra pods after harvest.Harvesting.Just as the solitary flowers of okra open at different times, beginning at the base of the plant and progressing upward, so do pods mature in this same pattern.Store okra seeds in a cool, dark, and dry place protected from pests. .
How to Grow Okra
Okra, or gumbo, is a popular warm season vegetable in the South, but also can be successfully grown in Michigan.Plants grow from 3 to 7 feet, depending on variety and climate.They produce attractive red to yellow blossoms that resemble hibiscus flowers.Okra is not difficult to grow, but it does require warm weather to thrive.Start picking when pods are no more than 2 to 3 inches long – this takes about five days from flowering.If you allow pods to develop to their full size, the plant will stop producing.Contact with the okra plant causes some people to develop a burning itch.Cook quickly with the caps on if you want to avoid releasing the mucilaginous interior.Developed by James Manning, Undergraduate Research Assistant, and Daniel Brainard, Vegetable Extension Specialist; MSU Department of Horticulture; Gary Heilig, MSU Extension educator.For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at [email protected] .