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Okra Plant Care Guide ~ Health Benefits


Okra (US /ˈoʊkrə/ or UK /ˈɒkrə/; Abelmoschus esculentus Moench), known in many English-speaking countries as ladies’ fingers, bhindi, bamia, or gumbo, is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of South Asian, Ethiopian and West African origins. The plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world.


Botanical name: Abelmoschus esculentus

Plant type: Vegetable

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Loamy

Flower color: YellowWhite

Bloom time: Summer

Okra is traditionally a southern U.S. plant that thrives in warm weather. It is easy to grow and use and looks great throughout the growing season due to its beautiful flowers. Okra is also rich in vitamin A and low in calories.


  • You can start okra seeds indoors in peat pots under full light 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date.
  • You can also start okra directly in your garden 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date as long as you cover the plants with a cold frame or grow tunnel until the weather warms up. Make sure that the covering is 2 to 3 feet tall so that the plants have room to grow.
  • If you do not start your okra plants early, wait until there is stable warm weather. You can plant okra in the garden when the soil has warmed to 65° to 70°F.
  • Plant okra in fertile, well-drained soil in full light about 1/2 to 1 inch deep and 12 to 18 inches apart. You can soak the seeds overnight in tepid water to help speed up germination.
  • If you are planting okra transplants, be sure to space them 1 to 2 feet apart to give them ample room to grow.
  • Okra plants are tall, so be sure to space out the rows 3 to 4 feet apart.


  • Eliminate weeds when the plants are young, then mulch heavily to prevent more weeds from growing. Apply a layer of mulch 4 to 8 inches high. You should also side-dress the plants with 10-10-10, aged manure, or rich compost (1/2 pound per 25 feet of row). You could also apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly.
  • When the seedlings are about 3 inches tall, thin the plants so that they are 10 to 18 inches apart.
  • Keep the plants well watered throughout the summer months; 1 inch of water per week is ideal, but use more if you are in a hot, arid region.
  • After the first harvest, remove the lower leaves to help speed up production.


  • Aphids
  • Corn earworms
  • Stinkbugs
  • Fusarium wilt


  • The first harvest will be ready about 2 months after planting.
  • Harvest the okra when its about 2 to 3 inches long. Harvest it every other day.
  • Cut the stem just above the cap with a knife; if the stem is too hard to cut, the pod is probably too old and should be tossed.
  • Wear gloves and long sleeves when cutting the okra because most varieties are covered with tiny spines that will irritate your skin, unless you have a spineless variety. Do not worry: this irritation will not happen when you eat them.
  • To store okra, put the uncut and uncooked pods into freezer bags and keep them in the freezer. You can then prepare the okra any way you like throughout the winter months.

Recommended Varieties

  • ‘Annie Oakley’, which takes 52 days to mature and has spineless pods. It grows to about 5 feet tall.
  • ‘Park’s Candelabra Branching’, which is a base-branching okra plant. This type of branching makes picking easy.
  • ‘Louisiana Green Velvet’ is good for big areas; it is vigorous and its plants grow to be 6 feet tall. It is also smooth and spineless.



Health benefits of okra

Thursday, September 19, 2013 by: Yanjun

(NaturalNews) Okra is available the entire year in the southern lands, but for Americans, it is only available during summer. The appearance of okra is comparable to that of a grooved pepper, and it belongs to the same genus as both cotton and hibiscus. Food experts said that the most likely origin of this vegetable is Africa, and it was transported from there to the United States about 300 years ago.

Learn more:



10 responses

  1. I can believe it came from Africa. Africa LOVES to send it’s unwanted “weeds” over here to Australia. This one was sent under the guise that it is “edible” but even as a vegan I have trouble with the mucilaginous texture of this fruit/veggie. I can’t bear that snotty quality that okra gets. It is very easy to grow and the flowers are spectacular so I might just give it a go as it is also drought tolerant BUT I doubt I will be eating it. I will grow it as a flowering specimen 🙂

    April 2, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    • i like okra fried with cauliflower and mushrooms not in itself alone 🙂 pretty flowers though

      April 2, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      • Is it slug like when you cook it that way? I can’t eat it when it slithers right off the plate ECH! 😉

        April 2, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      • lol, deep fry it is my solution ! 😛

        April 2, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      • Deep fry is the solution for just about everything. I think I would eat REAL slugs if they were deep fried but then my derierre would expland to the size of a small continent…sigh…

        April 2, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      • lol 😀 Mediterranean diet you will never be obese just pleasantly plump

        April 2, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      • Pleasantly plump and unable to fit out the door 😉 (Fried slug filled as well…not sure the duck is going to take kindly to me pinching her chief source of happiness in life! 😉 )

        April 2, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      • yeah i can’t do slugs, leave them for the birds lol … 😀

        April 2, 2014 at 7:00 pm

  2. cntryldy7

    If you make a vegetable gumbo with tomatoes, the tomatoes will cut the slime and they will be good to eat when boiled. I like okra, corn, butterbeans and tomatoes. Yum!! I also thicken it a bit with a little flour or cornstarch.

    April 14, 2014 at 11:37 am

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