How To Grow Okra & How Long Does it Take?

Okra is a close cousin to the hibiscus flower. It thrives in summer heat and is very adaptable. The bushy, heat-loving, and fast-growing plant can reach five feet in height. It produces edible pods that can be used in many kitchens around the world. The tender pods of okra are a highlight in soups, side dishes, stews and sauteed sides, as well as relishes and stews. Now we want to show you how easy it is to grow okra from seed up to harvest in your backyard.

The ideal soil composition and pH for growing Okra

Okra, like most vegetable plants, prefers well-draining, nutrient-rich soil. Okra will thrive in soil that contains some clay. It is advised to add native soil to your garden bed, but native soil is not enough. You should also enrich the soil with lots of organic matter, which will help to feed your plants. Okra prefers soil that is slightly acidic, with pH levels between 5.5 and 5.8. You can get a soil test at your local extension office or from your local nursery or garden center if you are unsure about your soil type, quality or pH.

Okra Temperature and Light Requirements

Okra thrives in humid, warm climates. It does not like temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Okra should be planted in an area that gets full sunlight for at least 6-8 hours per days. For best results, aim for temperatures between 75 and 95 degrees F in the evenings. This plant is very sensitive to shade, and will notoriously shade its neighbor okra plants.

Where to plant Okra

Okra is a warm weather crop that can be grown in most areas of the country. Its heat-loving, drought-tolerant nature makes it a good choice for southern gardens. Okra can also be grown in northern climates, although it will produce smaller pods. Okra plants are tall and broad. In-ground planting is best for most varieties. However, some varieties are better suited to be grown in containers. You can add some to your garden to reduce pests and increase plant production!

How to Grow Okra

It takes approximately two months for plants to mature. They should be directly sown in the garden or started indoors.

  • Start seeds indoors by sowing seeds in biodegradable containers 6-8 weeks before you plan to transplant outside. Keep ideal temperatures in mind.
  • Transplanting seedlings can be difficult. When transplanting outside, peat pots can help reduce the shock to plants.
  • Wait two weeks until the weather is stable before you transplant outdoors or sow seeds directly into your garden.
  • Even though the pods are smaller, they continue to produce pods through the summer months. Gardeners who live in warm growing areas can plant a succession of plants in the late summer to harvest their fall harvest.

Spacing Okra in a Garden

For okra to grow well, it is important to have the right spacing. If not properly spaced, plants can grow very tall and branch out, posing a problem for other plants. Consider staking the plant to ensure a more tidy growth habit.

  • Plant okra seeds one inch deep, 6 to 8 inches apart.
  • Thin seedlings and plant transplants should be spaced 18-24 inches apart in rows of 3 feet.

How to Water Okra Plants

Okra is a drought-resistant vegetable and can be left alone to grow well. You can keep track of the weather conditions in your area to ensure that your okra plants get a thorough watering every week. This could be from a good soak of rain or a hose watering.

For Okra Growing, You Will Need Nutrients

These plants are strong feeders of nitrogen and produce a lot of it quickly. It is important to have a good soil modified with organic matter for this reason.

Common Okra Pests & Disease

Okra is relatively easy to grow and resistant to disease. Only a few pests seem to be attracted to the plant. These are easy organic ways to keep your okra plants healthy:

  • Aphids As a trap crop, nasturtium plants can be used to repel aphids from okra plants. To knock the aphids from your plants, you can spray them with water.
  • Stink Bugs Spray your plants with a powerful water jet to get rid of stink bugs from the leaves.
  • Root Rot Ensure that your okra plants are planted in well-draining soil. Allow the soil to dry completely before watering.

Harvesting Okra

Harvestable fruits of the okra plant are the pods that they produce 60 days after their planting. These are the best tips for harvesting pods from these prolific producers.

  • Before seed pod production, plants have a striking hibiscus flower that looks like a hibiscus. This is a good indicator that harvest time will be just a few days away.
  • Once the blooms have been placed on the plant, harvest time is very quick.
  • You can either use pruning shears or pinch the pods to remove the stems.
  • For the most tender fruits, look for young pods measuring between two and four inches in length.
  • Fruits that grow more than 2 to 4 inches can become fibrous and woody.
  • To increase continuous production, harvest okra pods every day.
  • Okra plants can be spiny and hairy which can cause skin irritation if they are touched with naked skin. To avoid discomfort when harvesting seeds pods, wear long sleeves and gloves.

Recommendations for Okra Variety

There are many varieties of okra plants available. They come in a variety of sizes and colors. Although they might produce different colors of pods, all okra becomes green when it is cooked. You can find spineless varieties that are less irritating for your skin. However, this does not mean that they are free of spines!

These are some of our favorite varieties of okra.

  • ‘Red Velvet’
  • ‘Go Big’
  • ‘Baby Bubba’
  • ‘Emerald’
  • ‘White Velvet’

Share the Garden Love


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *