Growing Okra In Your Garden
Okra is a great option for gardeners in warmer climates. They are surprisingly easy to grow and with just a few plants, can produce enough to feed your whole family. A major factor in starting your okra seeds is timing. If you are planning a Spring crop, okra seeds should be started indoors and transplanted. However, for a Summer and Fall okra harvest, you can easily direct seed because the soil temperature has had plenty of time to warm up. Certain varieties of okra, like our Green Fingers Okra, is very versatile in the it can be grown in containers or direct seeded into the ground. The best place to start on deciding which okra you want to grow is by looking at some of the different varieties and their characteristics.
Tried And True Okra Varieties
Jambalaya Okra is a hybrid variety that is the most productive we’ve ever tried. Plants produce heavy yields of green pods that are great for pickling, frying, and stewing.
Clemson Spineless Okra
Productive plants produce pods that can reach 7-9″ in length, but are best harvested between 3-4″ long. Large plants will grow as large as 6′ in optimally-warm growing conditions.
Green Fingers Okra
Green Fingers Okra is a unique hybrid variety that produces small, flavorful 3-4″ green pods and is ideal for gardens of all sizes but has been specifically bred to be small enough for container gardening.
Star Of David Okra
Star of David produces deeply ribbed pods that are shorter and thicker than the traditional okra varieties. Pods are best when picked around 3 to 4 inches long. Plants can get as large as 7 feet tall.
While other varieties may become tough when pods get long, this variety will maintain tenderness at 10″ long. Pods are at optimal tenderness when harvested about 6″ long.
Emerald Green Velvet Okra
This variety is a favorite in Louisiana where it can be found in a wide variety of Cajun dishes. Emerald Green Velvet produces long, ribbed pods that will tend to stay tender at longer lengths than other varieties.
Chinese Okra (Luffa)
Chinese Okra is an heirloom, multi-purpose variety that can be used as okra substitute when harvested young, or for making sponges and other household items if allowed to dry on the vine.
Jing Orange Okra is an Asian heirloom okra variety with beautiful red to orange pods that are spineless and stay tender at 6″ long. Great for frying or making stews.
Red Burgundy Okra
Developed by Clemson University, this okra variety produces beautiful, deep red pods with green tips. Plants can grow as tall as 6′ and are very productive, providing bountiful harvests when picked regularly.
Should You Direct Sow or Transplant Okra?
The biggest mistake we encounter from our customers is planting okra seeds too soon in the season.Okra seeds will not germinate if the soil is too cool. Be sure that your soil temperature has been consistently 70°F – 75°F and all danger of frost has passed before direct sowing or transplanting.
Because okra is such a heat loving plant, it makes an excellent crop for succession planting. Wait for the soil to warm in the Spring to transplant, then easily have another crop direct sown behind it to enjoy okra all the way into summer and fall until the first frost hits.
Okra seeds should be started indoors at least 6 weeks before the last frost date for your zone.We recommend using our 162 Seed Trays for best results. We have everything that you need to be successful starting okra seeds.
Seed Start Supply List
- 162 Seed Tray
- Heavy Duty Bottom Tray
- Hanging Light Kit
- Sungro Seed Starting Mix
- Dramm Watering Can
- Dr. Joe Nutri Bubble
- Dr. Joe Growing Bubble
- Temperature Controlled Greenhouse
- 162 Seed Tray
- Fogg-It Mist Nozzle
- Sungro Seed Starting Mix
- 100 or 150 Watt Germination Mat
- Germination Thermostat
- Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer
Germinating Okra Seeds
- Fill each cell in the tray with the included seed starting mix. Use your hands to lightly pack the mix into each cell. Save a small amount for covering the seeds in the last step.
- Place starting tray on bottom tray and lightly water from above to generously moisten seed starting mix. Repeat 3-4 times to ensure all of the soil in the cells are moist. Water should be dripping from the bottom of the trays.
- Make a small indentation in the center of each cell. Refer to the back of your seed packet or the product page at hosstools.com for correct planting depth. Starting seeds too deep can prevent or delay germination.
- Place one seed per indentation and very lightly cover with the remaining seed starting mix from step 1. If you purchased our seed starting kit, attach the included clear humidity dome to the tray and wait for seedlings to emerge.
- Whether you are starting indoors or outdoors, the optimal temperature for okra seed germination is between 90°F and 95°F, so regularly check temperatures and adjust as needed.
- Once at least half of the seedlings emerge, remove the humidity dome. It is vital to keep the soil moist moving forward to ensure good germination. Water 1-2 times a day or if the soil looks dry.
- The reservoir tray included in the seed starting kits is for growing indoors and avoiding a mess when watering. It should be emptied after each overhead watering to avoid stagnant water and creating a breeding area for diseases.
- Once seedlings form their second set of leaves, called true leaves, fertilize once a week using 20-20-20 fertilizer. Mix 1 scoop per gallon of water and water from above.
- Once the seedlings have developed a good root system and can easily be removed from their trays, it will be time to transplant.
Okra Seed Starting Tips
Keep Your Extra Seeds!
If you have leftover okra seeds, be sure and store them in an airtight container in the freezer. You will be able to plant those same seeds for up to 2 years if you store them the right way. Keeping your seeds from year to year will help keep costs down for your home garden.
No Need To Soak Your Seeds
We have been growing this Southern staple for many years in our gardens and we strive to find the best methods to pass on to our customers and be successful growing your own food. We have tested the theory that you should soak your okra seeds prior to planting and haven’t found any benefit to doing this. So save yourself some time and skip the soak!