Growing Okra:
How to Grow Okra Organically

Growing okra is a good gardening project for the beginning warm-climate gardener. This Africa native and relative of the hibiscus (making Okra a highly ornamental as well as edible plant) is a staple in Southern and Cajun dishes. As long as it gets full sun, plenty of warmth and fertile soil, it will produce throughout the season if harvested regularly.

Growing Okra: Plant Snapshot (Abelmoschus esculentus)

growing okra
  • Family: Malvaceae (Mallow Family)
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual – 55-60 days to maturity
  • Recommended varieties: Cow Horn, Star of David, Red Velvet, Emerald
  • Cold tolerance: Warm Season – Will not survive frost and their seeds will not germinate in cold soil. Plant them at about the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring.
  • Required Sun: Full sun (at least 6 hours each day)
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Plants that add nitrogen to the soil, like peas and beans.
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Basil, cucumbers, melons, black-eyed peas
    • Avoid: None
Back to top of How to Grow Okra Organically

Growing Okra: Planting the Seed

Where to Find Planting Supplies...

The following resources offer effective, healthy and/or well-rounded options. Click the links to go there now...

Okra is easy to grow from seed if it has high enough soil temperatures. The soil should be at least 80 degrees F/27 C for germination. If your soil isn’t warm enough, use black plastic mulch for a few weeks before planting.

You can sow okra directly into the ground after danger of frost, or start early indoors. Sow directly or transplant when the air temperature is consistently above 60 degrees F (16 C). Before planting, nick the okra seed with a file or soak it in water overnight to make it easier for the seedling to emerge.

Always thin seedlings to about 18 inches apart.

Snapshot: Planting Okra

  • Planting depth: about 0.4 inches deep for seed (1 cm)
  • Spacing in rows: about 18 inches (45 cm)
  • Germination soil temperature: 70 to 95 degrees F (21 to 35 degrees C)
  • Days to germination: 7 to 15 days
Back to top of How to Grow Okra Organically

Growing Okra: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

Where to Find Growing & Plant Care Supplies...

For effectice, healthy and/or well-rounded options, click the following links...

Okra requires plenty of sun and water, so use mulch to help keep the soil from drying out. Stake the plants if necessary and remove fast-growing shoots to keep the plant bushy.

Okra grows very quickly once the weather warms. Fertilize with a natural fertilizer about once per month. You may not have to fertilize as much if you've planted in a spot that grew a high-nitrogen crop such as beans or peas last year.

Snapshot: Growing Okra

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6.0 to 8.0
  • Growing soil temperature: 70 to 95 degrees F (21 to 35 degrees C)
Back to top of How to Grow Okra Organically

Growing Okra: Harvesting Time

Okra should be harvested when young... the pods should be about as long as your finger. If pods are left on the vines too long, they become stringy.

Cut the pods with a sharp knife or clippers and handle them gently, as they bruise easily. Be sure to harvest regularly so that production doesn't stop.

Snapshot: Harvesting Okra

  • Time to harvest: 55 to 60 days, depending upon variety
Back to top of How to Grow Okra Organically

Storing Okra and How to Freeze Okra

Okra can be stored in the warmest part of the refrigerator in perforated plastic bags for about a week.

They freeze quite well, too. To freeze, wash the pods and remove the stems. Blanch for about 3 minutes for small pods and about 4 minutes for large ones. Once cooled, freeze whole.

Snapshot: Storing Okra & Freezing Okra

  • Storage temperature: 45to 50 degrees F (7.2 to 10 C)
  • Humidity: 80 to 90% relative humidity
  • Storage life: 1 weeks
  • Storage life (frozen): 6 months
  • Seed longevity: About 2 years
Back to top of How to Grow Okra Organically

Growing Okra: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Okra. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Corn earworm
  • European corn borer
  • Japanese beetle
  • Leaffooted bugs
  • Stink bugs
  • Vegetable leafminer

Diseases

  • Blossom blight (aka Southern Blight)
  • Damping-off
  • Leaf spots
  • Powdery mildew
  • Verticillium wilt
  • Wet rot
Back to top of How to Grow Okra Organically

YOUR Experience & Advice About Growing Okra

growing vegetables Yep - He grew these himself!
Click here to share your photo
or experience
.

Figured out a unique and effective way to grow them in your region?

Solved a problem that's been plaguing you?

Want to show off a picture of your perfect harvest?

Click here to share your advice, experiences and/or photos.

Back to top of Growing Okra - How to Grow Okra Organically

Was this page helpful?  If so, please tell your friends about it with a Facebook like or via Twitter, Pinterest, email or good old fashioned word of mouth. Thank you for supporting our efforts!

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave a comment in the box below.

Also see...

Okra photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

ask a vet

What Visitors Are Saying...

Share your thoughts!
[?] Subscribe To This Site

XML RSS
follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines