There are some veggies that are more popular than others. Okra is maybe one of the not-so-well-known ones, and although they might be unknown to some people they are actually quite delicious ones, in my humble opinion. Assuming you were led here by your love for them and the curiosity about how okra grows, I’m here to share with you some information about this lovely plant. So if you wish to know how to grow okra plants, read on to find out.
The first important thing to know about okra is that it requires warmth, so you will really need warm weather if you wish to grow okra plants. Okra seedlings must be very gently handled, so after all the frost danger has passed and the hot season starts arriving you may delicately place them into the ground in your garden or inside large containers. Their best growth is seen in warm conditions. It usually takes them from 50 to 70 days to mature after being planted.
Grow Okra: Planting and Caring for Okra in Pots or in the Ground
- Picking a spot to grow your okra plant. Pick a spot where your okra will get a lot of sunlight, then wait for the arrival of warm weather so you can begin your okra growing journey. These plants like it when they have temperatures of 29 celsius during the day and 15 during the night, or warmer.
- Soil Conditions: The best soil to grow okra in is one with close to neutral pH levels, between 6.5 to 7.0, but up until 7.6 it does fine. Your plant will benefit from soil that has been generously enriched with compost or other organic matter that is rich. When applying these to the soil, mix them in well, this should be done before you plant the okra. You can also use fertilizer throughout the season in order to ensure that the plants get the nutrients needed for them to offer the best results in the harvest.
- Okra seedlings have taproots that are fragile, so when handling them do it delicately so you don’t cause them any damage. Water the seedlings thoroughly before planting them. Remove them gently from the pot, separate them, and plant them 25 centimeters apart from each other. You want to have them planted a bit deeper than how they were growing in the pot. Then, water these new baby plants, unless rain is expected. Give the soil a few days to absorb the warmth of the sun before mulching. One of the bonus points of the okra plant is that they have a good ability to survive droughts in comparison to some other vegetables, but if you wish to have them growing and producing well, you should give them at least 2.5 centimeters of water per week.
- In the beginning, okra often grows slowly, but don’t worry, when the temperatures start rising in the summer their growth rate picks up. As the plant starts growing, their leaves grow bigger, they become taller, start to produce yellow blossoms, and then finally develop nice pods.
Tips to Grow Okra
- Grow them from seedling or seeds.
- Start to grow okra in pots indoors in a warm and well-lit place.
- The best soil temperature for the seed to germinate in is 29 celsius
- The seed starting mix should be kept moist until the seed germinates.
- If the temperature of the soil in your garden is warm enough you can sow the okra seeds directly there.
- It takes from 7 to 12 days for the germination to occur at a temperature of 29 Celsius or warmer.
- If you decide to start the seedlings indoors, remember to keep them under direct light, either close to a window or under a grow light. The nighttime temperature indoors should remain above 18 celsius.
Things to Watch Out for When Growing Okra
- They really don’t like cold weather, it stresses them making them more susceptible to fusarium wilts and verticillium, both diseases that are soil-borne and that can cause wilting and death to the plants.
- Root-knot nematode is another pest that can afflict okra plants. Often ants will climb up plants with the purpose of stealing nectar sips, they can cause damage to the plants.
- Other pests you might need to watch out for are: Stink bugs, corn earworms, Japanese beetles, aphids and flea beetles.
Harvesting and Storing
- Pods grow quite quickly in warm weather, so once your plants have started producing you should try to check on them every day. In 2 to 3 days a pod can develop fully so it’s important to keep checking on them. The pods’ growth happens from down-up on the plant.
- Cut the pods using a pruning shear, keeping a short stem part attached to it. The okra leaf hairs can cause itching sometimes so just to be sure it’s better that you wear a shirt with long sleeves and gloves when harvesting the okras, so you can avoid this discomfort. It’s important that you don’t leave giant ones attached to the plant because they can drain too much energy from it.
- When growing in places with a warm climate where the summer lasts for long, the okra plant can grow up to 1,8 to 2,4 meters in height. When they grow this tall, a lot of people choose to prune them at the end of summer, taking down a third of the plant height from the top. This way you can have a late crop with the buds that are along the main stem developing.
- As long as you keep cutting the pods every 2 to 3 days, they will keep coming on.
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