Growing Okra, also Ladyfinger, gumbo

Abelmoschus esculentus : Malvaceae / the mallow family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec

(Best months for growing Okra in USA - Zone 5a regions)

  • S = Plant undercover in seed trays
  • T = Plant out (transplant) seedlings
  • P = Sow seed
  • Grow in seed trays, and plant out in 4-6 weeks. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 68°F and 95°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 14 - 24 inches apart
  • Harvest in 11-14 weeks.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Peppers (Capsicum, Chili), Eggplant (Aubergine)
  • Okra on flowering plant

Raise seedlings in a similar way to capsicums - warmth is essential. Pick pods when they are about 5 - 8 cm (2 - 4 inches) long. Cut the stem below the pod with a knife. If the stem is too tough to cut then the pod is probably inedible!

Wear gloves when picking as okra are often covered in tiny irritating hairs (which disappear when cooked).

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Okra

Use pods cut or whole in soups or casseroles as a boiled vegetable, or stirfry.
Freeze uncut okra pods for using later - they'll keep for months frozen.

Your comments and tips

25 Jan 08, Cath (Unknown climate)
is there a secret to germinating okra seeds?
27 Jan 08, Chris (Unknown climate)
You can speed up germination by soaking the seeds overnight. This can allow them to germinate in 5 days. Normally it will take around 15 days.
03 Nov 08, Gary (Australia - temperate climate)
Is it advisable to cover the soil with black plastic. Right now it's about 18c but in a few weeks we'll expect 25-35c and up to around 40c at summers peak. Also I wanted to find out if it might be trying to grow okra in tubs, your advice greatly appreciated, thanks Gary
05 Nov 08, Sina (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Okra should germinate in 10-21 days at 20C, so you shouldnt need to use black plastic. Soaking the seeds in lukewarm water for at least two hours will definately help. In a temperate zone it is definatly worth growing in tubs as warmth is necessary especially at night at all times, but if you get up to 40C, a sheltered spot will do. well watered and a foliar mist and a couple of liquid feeds will keep them happy. Usually start to crop in 52 days
24 Dec 08, nia (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
We live in western sydney and have planted some okra seeds, we prepared the garden bed with about 20cm thick organic soil from a local store. The okra plants germinated in 2 weeks OK. But it was not growing as we expected the tempeature was ranging 29-25C at that time. still they are about 9cm height and I could observe tiny buds on the plant. (after 2 months of planting). Any body help me to find out what went wrong?
23 Mar 09, Sue Marler (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Hi there My first thoughts are to do a soil test - often soils from local stores are not always as 'organic' as they could be given the health regulations and processes before sale soils need healthy bacteria - one of the vital aspects of healthy organic soil. Create your own compost or worm farm and check the pH / mineral content of your soil too.
26 Aug 12, Maria Treffinger (USA - Zone 8b climate)
Can you buy okra in Australia? Do you find it in the supermarket? My niece is in Australia for the semester and wants to make gumbo. Thank you. Maria
24 Apr 09, sadia (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I have grown okra and they are bit yellowish and bit hard too. Is it ok to eat
27 May 09, Prakash (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
My okra plants came up very well, i saved them on very hot weather but i couldn't save them from ants & its all gone now. I used ant killer, spread them over the plants but ants were happily moving around & eating them.
29 Oct 09, Dmitri (Australia - temperate climate)
Hey how come these growing tips never have spacing suggestions? How far apart should each Okra plant be?
Showing 1 - 10 of 363 comments

It’s not a good idea because zucchini takes up a lot of space at the bottom, and the roots will compete for space, I’ve grown okra and it needs space and sun to produce. Why not grow zucchini in the middle of any plant that will get burned by the summer heat, if you cut the bottom layers of the zucchini and put sticks to train it up, it’ll provide shade for lettuce, celery, anything that can grow in partial shade, zucchini can be used as an umbrella with plenty of room to plant on the ground around it.

- Sandra G

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