​How to Grow ​​​OKRA

​Okra, or "Gumbo", has its roots in Northeast Africa. Cultivation spread into the eastern Mediterranean regions. It has been used for thousands of years. A member of the mallow family, it is closely related to flowering hibiscus. One of the earliest accounts of okra is by a Spanish Moor who visited Egypt in 1216. It was introduced to Brazil in the mid-1600s and it is likely that the French colonists of Louisiana introduced it to America.


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Growing Notes

  • Okra likes fertile, well-composted soil and needs moisture and warmth to thrive. Soak seeds for overnight before directly sowing into warm soil or started indoors three to four weeks prior to your last expected frost. You must be careful not to damage the roots during transplanting. Although okra typically has no problems with disease or pests, it is very sensitive to frost. Okra easily cross-pollinates so if you are planning to save seed, either plant only one variety or separate by up to one mile.



Seeds or Seedlings


2-12 days, 65F


2 years





Full Sun


1-2 inches


12-18 inches


50-65 days


The key to maintaining okra production continuously throughout the summer is to harvest regularly. Only 3 to 4 days are required from the time the okra flower opens until the pod reaches harvest maturity. For this reason, okra must be harvested at least every other day during the growing season. Failure to remove mature pods from the okra plant will cause reduced yield and quality of pods which set on the plant later. The pods are either cut or broken from the plant and should be refrigerated or used as soon as possible after harvest.


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Harvest the pods young before they are too large, usually at two to four inches long. After that they become fibrous. Harvest often to increase production. Okra should be used as soon as it is harvested; Consume, can, freeze or dry.

Saving Seeds

Although the flowers are perfect and self-pollinating, the flowers also are large and will attract insects. Isolation by up to one mile, caging the whole plants, or bagging the flowers is required to maintain purity. The pods are simply left to reach full maturity and then broken open to remove seeds. The pods cause skin irritation in some people so gloves may be desirable.

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