- USDA hardiness zones:
Also known as Lady's fingers, or Gumbo. It is cultivated throughout the tropical and warm temperate zones, being one of the most heat- and drought-tolerant vegetables there is. Okra tolerates poor soils, heavy clay and irregular moisture.
Okra is usually grown as an annual vegetable for its seed pods which are harvested and eaten in the immature state. It is related to other beauties in the mallow family like cotton, cocoa and hibiscus. Its name comes from a Nigerian language where it is native, and it was introduced in the New World as early as 1658, during the height of the transAtlantic slave trade.
- Dry to medium
- Seedlings need consistent water
Seeds should be sown directly into the garden a week to two weeks after last frost in your region, when the soil has warmed up. Cool soil will slow germination, soaking seeds overnight will help speed it up. Seeds are sown 1 inch (2 cm) deep in hills 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm) apart. Thin to 1 plant per hill when plants are about 3 inches (7 cm) tall. Seed pods should be harvested when they are still immature so they are tender " around 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) long for most varieties. Do not allow the pods to get too large as they will become woody and unpalatable. Pruning shears should be used to remove pods so as to not damage the plants which will continue to bear until they are destroyed by frost. If they are tough to cut then they will be too tough to eat. Care should be taken handling the plants as they have irritating hairs on the leaves and stems.
Size and growth:
- No data available
Bloom / flowers:
- Flowers are white to yellow, with a purple or red spot at the base of the petal.
Okra can be prepared in many different ways. Its pods and other plant parts are mucilaginious which is a soluble fiber which is edible (some culinary traditions keep the pods intact, cooking them quickly, to minimize the 'sliminess' texture). Leaves can be cooked in a similar way to beet greens or chicory, or eaten raw in salads. Seeds can be roasted, ground, and used as a flavoring for hot beverages, or can be pressed to make oil, which has a pleasant taste, high boiling point and is high in unsaturated fats. In addition to its edible value, the flowers are highly decorative and make a lovely addition to the ornamental landscape.
Okra is extremely frost-sensitive.