This guide on how to grow okra will help your care for your okra plants from seeds to harvest.
Okra is a southern favorite and a vegetable that can be served up fried or in a number of other tasty ways. Okra loved warm climates, so if you live in an area where the heat index gets high, it may be the perfect plant for you. Look below at some helpful tips on how to grow okra, so you can enjoy this southern favorite at your own dinner table. Getting started is easy. Here is what you need to know!
How to Grow Okra
How to plant okra seeds:
Planting okra seeds is easy and a great way to get started early on the growing season. You can plant okra indoors using peat pots and nutrient-rich soil. A heat or sunlamp may help with germination if you don’t have a window that gets full sun available. If you wish, you can soak the seeds overnight in water to help speed up the germination process.
To plant okra seeds indoors, bury seeds about 1 inch deep and provide moist soil and 8 hours of full sun. Seeds should be spaced a few inches apart in the beginning, taking care to thin them as they grow. You can start this indoor process about a month before the last frost of the season.
If you are planting your okra seeds directly in the ground, wait until outdoor temperatures have a reached a steady 70 degrees or higher. Choose an area that has soil that drains well and enjoys full sun only. You can plant your seeds a few inches apart, and space seed rows at least one foot apart.
How to plant okra seedlings:
When planting okra from seedlings, choose only the strongest seedlings with bright foliage and sturdy stems. Plant the seedlings at a depth of 2-3 inches so the entire root ball is covered. Plants should be spaced 10-12 inches apart, and rows should be at least one foot apart.
How to grow okra in containers:
Growing okra in containers is a great idea, especially if you don’t have an area in your yard that gets full sun. This way, you can move the pot as needed to get the sun it desires. You can sow seeds directly into the pot or use seedlings, just be sure you still space them according to the suggestion above. Because okra grows upward, you may wish to have a trellis system ready to help support the plants as they start to climb.
Okra does love its personal space, so avoid overcrowding plants. It is advised that you just focus on one plant per pot.
How to care for okra plants:
There are a few ways to ensure healthy growth of your okra plants. Okra plants enjoy 1-2 inches of water per week, and applying it at the base of the plant is advised. You can use mulch or compost at the base as well to help support the plant, keep moisture in the soil, and keep the roots cool.
Once the plants reach 3-4 inches in height, add more mulch or even manure around the base of the plant. You can also offer liquid plant food at this time. Should you notice any struggling seedlings, you can remove them at this time to allow for the stronger plants to grow.
Weeds can easily snuff out your okra, so you need to be vigilant about keeping weeds pulled. Another enemy of okra is stink bugs and aphids, so if you notice any of these pests you want to treat your plants quickly with a food safe repellant.
Okra plants hate to be crowded. As they grow, you may wish to remove weaker plants. If you are concerned about the height of the plant, a simple trellis or stake feature can help offer some support and keep the plant from snapping over.
When to harvest your okra:
Now comes the fun part of harvesting your okra. It only takes about 60 days for okra to reach maturity. When it is ready, the okra will be about 3 inches in length. Simply take a knife and cut the okra from the stem. Because okra has small spikes on them as well as the stems, you may wish to wear gloves when handling the plant.
If you notice that the stem is tough and unable to be cut with a knife, chances are the okra is over-matured and won’t be any good to eat. Once you have harvested your okra, remove wilting foliage at the bottom/base of the plant to encourage new growth. Your okra should continue to grow.
How to store okra:
Once you have harvested your okra, it can be placed in freezer safe bags and frozen until needed. You can also find a variety of canning recipes that use okra, so you can enjoy this food all through the winter months.
Okra is the perfect plant to grow if you live in a warm region! Give these tips on how to grow okra a try and see how they can help you grow a stunning crop.