Okra Hibiscus esculentus
A heat loving, easy-growing veggie related to the hollyhock, produces ornamental yellow flowers, along with the pods.
Size: 8-15' tall x 5-6' wide
Full Sun, Part Shade
Plant when soil is adequately warm in well-drained soil amended with plenty of compost. Needs all-day sun.
Sow in spring, after all danger of frost has passed. Best in soil that is 80-95° (roughly April through mid-June).
Depth: 1/2 - 3/4" Spacing: Group of 3 seeds every 18"; Rows 4' apart Emergence: 5-14 days Thinning: @ 4" tall, thin to 1 every 18"
Soak seeds in water for 12-24 hours before sowing. Add some seaweed to speed germination even more.
Does not require much water. Increase yields with lava sand and soft rock phosphate. Texas Greensand helps alkaline or high calcium soils. Apply thick mulch after seedlings start to grow.
Fertilize in spring when the plant blossoms; and again about a month later. Use a handful of compost and organic fertilizer per plant. Optionally cut back plant in midsummer to encourage a more bushy form; fertilize after cutting. After initial harvest, remove lowest set of leaves to increase production.
- Control nematodes by tilling citrus pulp (peelings can be stored in the freezer until needed) into the soil prior to sowing at a rate of about 50 lbs. per 1,000 square feet.
- Misshapen pods usually caused by stink bugs and other insects. Control with citrus spray.
- Molasses water spray controls aphids.
- Cutworms can be controlled with DE around the seedlings.
- Apply Garrett Juice, garlic tea, and potassium bicarbonate to control fungal diseases.
See Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening, p137 for troubleshooting information.
- Okra creates a windbreak for peppers and eggplant
- Okra provides shade to extend growing season of lettuce planted around the base
- Sow black eyed peas around established okra (peas may be less bothered by aphids)
Avoid planting where nightshades have previously grown.
50-70 days, 4-6 days after first bloom
Harvest young, tender pods daily at about 2-5″ long. Large pods are tough and inedible, and leaving maturing pods on the plant will stop new pod production.
Use gloves; foliage may cause allergic reaction. Store in fridge if needed but best to eat fresh. Each plant produces about 20-30 pods.
Seed Saving & Propagation
Allow pod to completely dry on the stalk; remove with shears. Will keep almost forever stored somewhere away from weather. Mix okra seeds with other seeds may even repel pests like weevils.
Okra can be boiled, fried, canned and pickled. Flowers are edible.
ReferenceCarrots Love Tomatoes by
Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening by
The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by