Growing Okra

August 16, 2006

Okra is one of those interesting vegetables like Cowpeas that for some reason you seldom discover growing in backyard vegetable gardens.

Also like those Black Eyed Peas, okra is more popular as a Southern specialty crop; however it will grow perfectly well even in Northern gardens. If you can raise tomatoes and peppers in your garden you should have no trouble growing a healthy and productive crop of okra.

Growing Okra, A Prize Southern Vegetable

Photo of Okra PodsMy first memory of okra plants were from my grandfather’s large patch of five foot plants growing in Southern Maryland. He raised an okra variety that produced short, smooth and rounded okra pods that are rarely seen or grown by gardeners today. Most of the okra cultivated in gardens now are the slender podded varieties that have pronounced groves or ridges along the sides of the pods.

While okra pods are usually light green in color, you can also find varieties with creamy white pods and I have even raised okra plants that produce attractive velvety red colored pods. The pods mature in sizes ranging from a few inches to over a foot in length.

Most okra varieties offer the best eating quality when the pods are harvested at small sizes, but a few varieties remain tender and tasty even after growing to their full length. The okra pods are packed with seeds that are soft and edible until the pods mature which is when the seeds dry, turn hard, and the pods become tough.

Planting Okra in the Garden

I’ve seen okra transplants for sale at greenhouses and garden centers but it’s a better idea to start your own plants from seed sown directly into the garden. Plant the large, green, round seeds about three quarters of an inch deep after the soil has warmed in mid spring.

Okra plants prefer warm temperatures and grow quickly so there’s no rush to plant them before the weather has settled. Okra can be planted in rows twelve to eighteen inches apart and thinned to stand six inches apart in the row. Or plant the seeds in raised beds using a matrix spacing allowing six to eight inches between the plants in each direction.

A well fertilized or composted bed will supply all the nutrients that the okra plants need to grow and bear a productive harvest of delicious pods. Provide water as needed to support the plants growth and keep the weeds under control until the okra plants are established and tall enough to shade the ground and prevent additional weeds from germinating.

Cultivating and Harvesting Okra

Okra will grow very quickly and before you know it your plants will be over four feet tall with some varieties reaching seven or eight feet in height by the time they are fully grown. Take care to position the plants in an area of the garden where they won’t cast a shadow over shorter neighboring plants.

Okra Flower PictureKeep an eye out for the large pinkish or yellow blossoms that will be produced along the tips of the plants. These attractive flowers will soon be followed by the edible okra pods. It’s important to harvest the okra when the pods are young as they become tough, woody, and inedible if left on the plant until they mature.

To harvest the okra use a knife or a pair of pruners to cut the pods from the stem connecting them to the plant. Some varieties have small spines protruding from the leaves and stems that can cause irritation so protect your hands or wear gloves during harvesting. Each plant will continue to produce numerous pods over the long growing season and by keeping the pods picked you will encourage additional production.

For those growing okra for the first time, the next entry will highlight a few okra varieties that are perfect for the home garden.

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • Dallas

    Howdy Kenny,
    Living in a condo forces me to plant vegetables in pots. I have one transplant of Clemson Spineless and one Red Burgundy growing from a seed. I hope they both do well but how well can they do in pots 1.5′ wide and 1′ deep? Does okra need anything to stabilize it as it grows like tomatoes do? Also, the okra transplant had 3 stalks in it. Should only plant one to a pot?
    I’m new at gardening (2years) but I am loving it. So any help from a pro like you would be awsome.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Dallas, you can grow okra plants in containers but I’m afraid that the pots you’re using aren’t going to be large enough. Okra plants can grow over six feet tall and the stems can get almost as wide as the pots that your seedlings are currently growing in. You’re also going to need a deeper container with more soil since the okra plants have a large root system. I would grow one plant per container unless you use something like a windowbox type of container. Okra plants will grow upright without support as long as the root system has enough soil depth to anchor itself and a wide enough base to keep it from tipping over. So transplant your okra seedlings to bigger pots and good luck with your container garden!

  • Jean Cory

    Hi Kenny,
    I just found your site! The Florida weave is a great idea; I’m going to try it right away.

    We’re growing okra for the first time, two seedlings from the garden shop, and their leaves are yellow. The other plants in the garden are doing ok, and the tomatoes are growing like crazy. What do you think the problem with the okra might be? Or do some varieties have yellow leaves?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi June, were the okra seedlings root bound when you removed them from their growing containers? I have never seen an okra variety that grew yellow leaves. Okra grows much better when raised from seed rather than to set out transplants. It’s also a lot more productive, economical, and easier to grow okra by direct seeding it into the garden.

  • Glenn Wellbonr

    I have set okra plants that I bought at a garden shop. The plants I purchased had 3 or 4 individual pants in each starter pot. These pants have been in the ground 2 weeks and appear to be growing just fine. My question is – should I prune (cut) all plants except one, or leave the 3 or 4 plants in each hill?

    Thanks for your response.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Glenn, when you set the okra transplants out in the garden you could have tried separating the plants and spacing them the proper distance apart. That would have given you more okra seedlings, but would also have run the risk of the plants suffering from transplant shock. At this point you should thin the okra plants by pruning to leave one plant per hill so that they won’t crowd each other. The okra plants should be spaced to grow at least four to six inches apart. There isn’t much gained by growing okra from transplants so next year start your okra plants from seed and you’ll save money and wind up with more plants.

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  • Cynthia

    I planted okra for the first time from seeds about 5 weeks ago. The plants sprouted quickly but have stayed small. I have 4 to 6 leaves on plants that are only about 3 to 4 inches tall. I live in Santa Fe, NM – 7,000′ elevation, hot, dry and sunny. I’ve tried watering them every day since it’s been so dry lately and they seem to be growing a little faster but no where near 4-5 feet everyone else talks about!
    Any idea why they are still so small?

  • Kenny Point

    Cynthia, my okra plants are growing at about the same pace as your plants and are still relatively small at this point. Keep watering and fertilize if your soil needs it. Also, as the seedlings grow thin them to stand eight to ten inches apart so that the plants do not crowd each other. Give them time and they should begin to shoot up soon. The height also depends on the okra variety that you planted as some can reach over seven feet tall.

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  • I grow my veggies in London, England. Despite what you might have heard… we do have a good 5 months of hot (up to 90degrees) Summer. I have tried to grow okra from seed (Clemsons Spineless) with no success. What would you recommend?

  • Kenny Point

    If you’re growing other vegetables in your garden there shouldn’t be a particular problem with growing okra plants. They don’t require any special care or soil, but do like warm weather. You didn’t mention exactly what was happening with your plants. My only suggestion would be to try planting a few different okra varieties, maybe Clemson Spineless just doesn’t like the conditions in London. Also plant your okra seed directly in the garden after the soil warms up. Good luck!

  • Ronda

    I am in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina. My okra plants are growing well. They are full of blooms. After the bloom falls off, the pod turns black and we have not harvested any pods yet. I have tried to keep the dead pods off the plant, but it does not seem to help. Any suggestions?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Ronda, the only thing that I can suggest for your okra problem is to try using a tiny paint brush to hand pollinate the okra flowers after they open and see if that will help the plants to set good okra pods.

  • Hi Kenny, I live on the gulf coast and have three okra plants growing. One of my plants has decided to take over the garden and is now 8 1/2′ tall and still growing. I measured the base of the stalk and it is 10 1/2″. I am truely amazed and get okra everyday. Have you heard of any bigger?

  • Kenny Point

    Terry, congrats on growing a giant okra plant, you should take a photo of that monster. What variety of okra seed did you plant? I have heard of a couple of okra varieties that are claimed to reach heights of seven to eight feet, but I have never actually seen an okra plant grow as tall as the one in your garden… very impressive! How many okra pods have you harvested? What size are the pods when harvested? And do the okra pods remain tender if allowed to grow to a large size, or do you harvest them all when they are still small?

  • Hi Kenny,I have some okra seeds for you if you want some. My okra plant now stands 11′ and still getting about 6-8 pods a day. I’m very pleased and surprised. I need to know how to keep it protected against and bad weather or from getting cold. Any suggestions? Thanks Kenny.

  • Kenny Point

    Terry, I’m glad to hear that your okra plant is still growing strong. That’s unbelievable that it has gotten that tall and is still producing a large crop of pods. I would love to try some of your gigantic okra seeds. At the current size it may be difficuly for you to cover the plant or protect it from the cold weather. I would just continue harvesting and caring for the plant and see how long it survives into the fall or winter seasons in your southern climate.

  • Hi Kenny,
    Just wanted you to know the okra plant(tree) is doing good. Not getting as many pods but it is still getting taller. About 4-6 pods now.I built a kind of green house around the okra, peppers, and tomatoes, but only on the North, East and West. Not much cold from the South. It wasn’t easy doing that but I had to do something to protect it (them).If you are interested in some seed I already have some dried out, just let me know. Thank for your help Kenny. God bless you and have a great day. Terry


    What is the best fertilizer for okra in North Florida and when is the best time to plant okra?

  • Kenny Point

    Compost would make a great fertilizer for growing okra or you could use a balanced commercial organic fertilizer. Okra is planted in the spring after the threat of frost has passed so that the plant will mature and bear okra pods during the summer months.

  • skypilot

    i noticed how strongly you suggest starting the seed outdoors, but i’m wondering if this would still be the best idea up in our colder climate up here in portland oregon. would it still be better to wait until the last frost, or should i start it indoors first?

  • suzanne

    I have two huge plants and have only harvested one pod. I have no flowers even suggesting that I will have pods. What is going on and is there something I can do. I am in Austin Tx, where it is hot sunny. The plants get plenty of sun and water. I want some okra!!!

  • Kenny Point

    Suzanne, your plants are bound to produce some flowers and okra pods sooner or later. Have you tried providing them with a dose of a bloom mix of organic fertilizer? Next year you may want to grow more plants since okras aren’t the most productive vegetable in the garden.

  • eddie burks

    Can anyone help me with a question?? I need to know how much one bushel of okra weighs on average? I’m wanting to grow okra and have some questions. Please respond.

  • Karlie

    Hi. I am new to gardening and just wanted to know if the okra plant keeps on “giving” or do they die down after a time to be re-started from the seeds gathered? I live in the tropics, so weather shouldn’t be a problem for the plants.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Karlie, in my growing region the shortening day length and cooler temperatures of autumn bring an end to the growth and production of the okra plants. In a tropical climate I’m sure the okra plants will yield over a much longer period and will “keep giving,” but at some point I would guess that production will slow and you will need to start new plants from seed.

  • Candice

    Hi. I have always helped my mom grow okra in the past and hers always took off and got rather tall pretty fast. Well, this is my first time by myself and they just aren’t growing like I remember when I was younger. I started them from seed. They came up about 2-3 weeks ago. Now they are only 6-7 inches high and yellow. I water my garden just about every day, I live in West Texas so it is pretty dry and hot here. Everything else in my garden is doing awesome, but those. About almost 2 weeks ago we had a huge rain storm come through and pretty much flood my entire back yard. The back yard looked like a small lake. I was worried about the entire garden but it did not even seem to phase anything else in it but maybe the okra. It seemed to be growing slow and very yellow. I have fertilized them. Do you think it was the flooding that is causing them to do this or maybe they have so kind of disease? Help!

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Candice, I’ve never noticed any diseases affecting my okra plants. Strange as it may sound you could be over watering the plants with the flooding and all. Does the soil dry out between watering? Do the plants appear to be waterlogged for extended periods? They grow slowly at first but the leaves should not be yellowing.

  • julio balmas

    Hi everyone. I planted okra 10 days ago, in about 10 acres with a hydropneumatic machine. It did not came out at all. How many days does okra to come out from the ground? Any thoughts?

  • Becky in Illinois

    Hi, Kenny. I put out 3 4″ seedlings a week ago, the North and South variety since I’m in Illinois (Chicago). One has withered completely, and the other two are getting starts to their “real” leaves, but their “seedling” leaves drooped once and then came back. Yesterday they drooped again and are still that way. Seemed to me to be a water issue, though I have been watering them moderately along, but I wonder if you might think it’s something else. I don’t want to lose them, so any hints you can drop would be very much appreciated. if they go completely, I still have some seeds that I can plant directly into the garden soil. Much obliged!

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Becky, don’t worry too much about that first set of leaves, keep an eye on the plants and if they produce additional leaves and continue to grow the plants should be fine. If the leaves droop during mid day but recover in the evening just continue to water the plants moderately, but make sure that you water deeply when you do irrigate the garden.

  • Eric in Poland

    Hey, Kenny! Love the site! As a transplanted North Carolinian to Poland, I’ve been missing okra for a while now. I’m also a newbie/novice at gardening [starting a new hobby at 42 because of food cravings]. Our summers can be as hot as N.C. but the weather is too fickle for me to trust growing okra in a garden.

    What kind of container would you suggest for okra next year? Plastic or metal?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Eric, I would probably go with a plastic container or one with a ceramic glaze because I think that they will stay a little cooler and hold moisture well. Good luck with growing your okra in containers.

  • Surendra

    I am working on tissue culture and transformation of okra, but now day I am facing problems of hardening, sir how much length is required for hardening plants, any treatment is recommended to keep disease free plants.

    Surendra Sinkar
    Research Associate, India

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Surendra, I usually harden my vegetable transplants off over a period of two weeks starting with just an hour outside and gradually increase the time that the plants spend outdoors until they are fully acclimated and can spend the entire day and night out in the elements.

  • R. L. Howard

    Kenny, I have a nice stand of okra planted late in July, but noticed there are black spots (@ 1 mm each) on the bottom of the leaves. Could even be eggs of an insect. Have seen very few (4 or 5) worm/caterpillar looking things but have removed them. Otherwise have not seen any bugs. Don’t know what they are or if they will damage plants. Do you have an idea? Thanks much!

  • Kenny Point

    I’m not sure what the spots that you are seeing are but I wouldn’t worry too much about them unless your plants start experiencing problems. I have never had an insect or disease cause an issue with my eggplants (now groundhogs are a different story), well actually the Japanese Beetles did go after them this summer, but I just picked them off. I would recommend that you keep a close eye on plants, remove the worms/caterpillars, and let us know how your okra grows and produces.

  • R. L. Howard

    Kenny, Thanks so much for the info. Apparently they are not aphids, right? Haven’t really gardened in years, but it’s a toss up whether the great organic food or the physical and mental stress relief is the great benefit!

  • Kenny Point

    No, I don’t think that they are aphids that you are up against, although they are small and you would have to look closely to see them.

  • R. L. Howard

    Kenny, Am afraid my okra worries are not over. The leaves used to be smooth and veined, but some are now “bumpy” and curling. Any thoughts?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi R.L., I’m afraid that I don’t know what is the problem with your okra leaves. Okra plants do seem to loose a lot of their lower leaves as the plants mature but excessive bumps and curling doesn’t sound good. Do the tops of the plants look healthy? If so, I wouldn’t worry too much at this point as there isn’t much that you can do, so just keep a close eye on them and see if you can notice any insects feeding on the plants and water/fertilize your okra as needed.

  • Sandra

    To give your okra an early start soak the seeds overnight to soften the hard seed coat. However, don’t soak them longer because they’ll start to sprout and you’ll damage your seed trying to plant them.

  • Gordon

    Hey Kenny! Greetings from sunny Sydney, Australia! I am a novice green-thumb and am growing okra for the first time. Have put them in an area that basil, chilli, and coriander thrive in. The first shoot has appeared so have my fingers crossed. Just want to thank you for all the great advice here and looking forward to watching the okra grow.

  • R. L. Howard

    To follow up after my okra questions to you, got past the black spots on the leaves (appeared to be ant related), bumpy leaves (do not know but did not seem to cause any major problems), voracious grasshoppers, had a beautiful stand of okra plants with lots of blossoms. Had about 3 weeks of rain and cooler than normal temperature, which slowed down the growth, and succumbed to an early frost! With no control over the weather, things happen! Appreciate your input, Kenny. Will try again next year. Have a question regarding tomatoes now. Is it OK to preserve green tomatoes if they went through 1 night of light frost? Heard this changes the chemistry somewhat and is not a good idea to eat. (Was thinking of canning a green tomato sauce.) Do you think it is safe?

  • I was wondering what you have to do to harvest okra seed to use next year in your garden. I have let several okra pods grow and get hard and dry out. Now what do I do?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Jo Ellen, once the okra seed pods are dry you can break them open, shake out the seeds, and store them in a cool, dry spot until it is time to plant them in the garden.

  • Wayne Stoddard

    Here in No. California, with a mild, non-freeze winter, can okra be wintered over so that the same stalks from this season’s garden produce a new crop next season w/o having to start from seed? Okra has a very deep taproot..

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Wayne, I really don’t think that the idea about overwintering okra will work, and even if it did you would probably get better results and more production by starting new plants anyway.

  • Becky

    This is my first year growing Okra. It does excellent in Las Vegas even when it’s 115 outside. It started out very slow until May, then it grew very fast with a decent harvest almost every other day. This lasted until November. I’m now looking at plants that have so far survived freezing temperatures (Without leaves and fruit of course) and I will continue to observe the plants to see what extremes they can endure. Hopefully I will get a crop from the same plants next season.

  • Hi there! From the looks of it this question is already answered, just wanted to throw it out there anyways. Would/Could Okra be successful being planted in one of those topsy turvy tomato plants hangers???We live in Chicago and We are growing everything else,(tomates, beans, peas, and multiple herbs) out of the topsy turvy plant hangers due to seriously limited space. What do you think??? Would it be more prosperous to grow out of a bucket hanging of the window sill or would the topsy turvy suffice??

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Michael. Could okra grow upside down all topsy turvy like that? Sure it probably could. Would I recommend you try… nope, I think it would do better in the bucket as you suggested… save the topsy turvy for plants with more of a vine-like growth habit.

  • Satish Dayal

    Hi Kenny: The prevailing belief today seems to be to cut the growing tip of the main branch of all fruiting plants to enable lateral branches to flourish. The lateral branches are considered more productive. Is this true for Okra also? Regards!

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Satish, the problem is that cutting the growing tip of some plants also ends the production of future new leaves or buds along the main stem. Sometimes that is what you want for example with Brussels Sprouts, but sometimes it is not such as with kale and collards. I’m not sure what the effect would be on okra (my growing season isn’t long enough that it would matter), but I have seen mature okra plants over six feet tall begin to branch or even flower and fruit along the lower sections of the main stem. Give it a try and let us know how your plants react.

  • Jackson

    My okra plant has a yellow substance around the bottom on the soil. It looks like it threw up, smells like plants and is gooey. The rest of the garden is fine. We’ve had lots of rain in the past few days. It is planted in a raised garden bed with organic gardening soil.

  • Jackson

    Now the stuff is puffy and has turned a little orange in color. It also has a few red droplets that look like blood. This is really spooky. I am going to remove it after our storm showers this afternoon. It has now spread to one of my cantaloupe plants.

  • Kenny Point

    Hello Jackson, that is weird, could it be some type of mushroom or fungi that is forming on the soil?

  • Jackson

    I think you are right. It was hard after the sunlight hit it for a few hours and I used my trowel to remove it carefully. It was very disgusting. I guess our 4 inches of rain brought out the worse in the organic soil. It hasn’t returned in the past six hours.

  • Ken

    Hi there
    I live in the tropics and i just started my first batch of okra. Recently i have been receiving very heavy rainfall and i notice that my plants are starting to react badly. On some healthy plants, leaves are curling and then wilting but the rest of the plant looks perfectly fine. On some others, the lower leaves are starting to get yellow spots and purple edges. My plants are about 3 feet high and i have had a few pods already. Any thoughts on this? Thanks! 🙂

  • Karey

    Hi there! I’m so glad to have found your site! We live in the east Georgia area and just started gardening. Our okra is doing well, aside from the occasional aphid visit. My question might seem silly, but please humor me. How can I tell when my okra is ready to pick? And what time of day does it bloom? We have an okra pod but I never saw the bloom. Thanks for your time! K

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Karey, your okra is ready to harvest whenever it reaches the proper size, which can vary from one variety to the next. It will never hurt to pick them on the small size and they are perfectly edible when young. If you wait too long to harvest you will know because the pods will turn woody and be difficult to slice, and impossible to eat no matter how long you cook them. Some varieties can remain tender even when the grow large but most okra pods are harvested between three to five inches in length. Good luck with your new garden!

  • John Warmke

    I have 6 okra plants growing and producing right now, I’m now getting a couple okra a day at this point. My question is how long does picked okra stay good for in the fridge, and is there a preferred storing method? I have to save up for a while to get a meals worth. Any advise would be great

  • Kenny Point

    Hi John, okra keeps pretty well in the fridge… at least a week, maybe two or more. I think they will do better and keep longer if you don’t wash them and they are perfectly dry when they go into the fridge.

  • This is my first try at growing okra. I planted some in pots on my deck – pots are 12″ high x 12″ deep. The largest plant, 17″ high, produced the first blossom bud but it dropped off today before opening. Any idea what has caused this? Ten days ago I fertilized with a tablespoon of Tomato-tone and a tablespoon of phosphate (0-46-0). A week ago, to combat aphids I sprayed with Fertilone Triple Action Plus (garden center recommendation). Any help will be appreciated.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Dottie, it could be a pollination issue but I wouldn’t worry too much as many plants will drop some early blossoms without setting fruits. Just watch for the next set of flowers and let me know if you continue to have a problem with them dropping.

  • Sue in Oklahoma

    Jackson what you are seeing is a fungi caused by wet soil and mulch. If you trim the lower limbs from your okra so that air can flow through you will okay. We save our own okra seeds each year saving the best pods. Okra should not be planted until the soil is at 60 degrees. Also okra seed will rot in the ground if soil is cold and wet. We use organic material under all of our plants and sprinkle epson salt around them just as they start to bloom. Okra is a slow grower until the weather heats up – give it a little water and lots of sun and you will see it change quickly. We pick our okra when it a medium size – we fry, boil, mix with other veggie, freeze – really love the stuff.

  • Sonny

    Okra plants will not bloom. Last year was same. Plants are about 16-18″ tall. Also , Bluelake beans are not bearing. There does not seem to be any bees in garden

  • Kenny Point

    Sonny, the heat could have stressed the plants a bit and slowed the flower production but I would keep them watered as needed, fertilize, and give them a little more time to start fruiting. Good luck.

  • Joe Rego

    Hello Kenny

    I am using this site for the first time. I transplanted Okra this year in raised beds. The plants are now 20 inches (clemson), foliage nice and green and fanning out. I got three fruit two weeks ago. Since then, the flowers bloom drop and voila – all I get is a button of a pod. It stays a button and does not develop. I sprayed Malathion (diluted per instructions) for the ants, around the base of the stem and the shaved bark mulch, and notice a white discoloration about an inch on each stem where the malathion may have residued. Any reason why the pods are not developing? Do I need hand pollination? How do I do that.

    Thanks in advance. I live in Benicia, Northern California. Summer temps average 80-85F days, 50-55F nights. I use fish/seaweed emulsion tea I prepared this year. My tomatoes (black russian) are awesome. How can I send you some pictures?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Joe, that is odd that your okras aren’t filling out, I would just be patient and watch to see if the problem will resolve itself. Okra is self-pollinating and can produce fruit without any insect pollinators but in general to hand pollinate a flower you could take a small paint brush and transfer pollen by gently brushing the insides of the flowers to spread their pollen from one to another.

  • M Ahmed

    This is the second time I have grown Okra. Last year when the plants were about 6 inches tall, one morning I found all of the plants chopped off. I blamed it on the deer. This year I planed these in three different locations. In backyard, front yard and in pods placed in my patio where I can keep an eye. Same thing is happening again. Some animal is eating these. Any help is appreciated

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Ahmed, not sure what is eating your okra plants. Is there any way that you can surround them all around with some chicken wire fencing or keep under a floating row cover until they grow a bit larger?

  • mickey mccormick

    hello there, Am growing okra And its about 3-4 inches tall And I have 3 rows of it Its doing very well have pick some off the plant twice now BUT some pieces are woody and some are not and it don’t make a difference if its big or small pieces. Has me puzzled!!!! Mick in Ca.

  • hello there, Am growning Okra And its about 3-4 inches talls And I have 3 rows of it Its doing very well have pick some off the plant twice now BUT some pieces are woody and some are not and it dont make a diffence if its big or small pieces Got me puzzled!!!! mick in Ca.

  • bill

    hi there. my okra is about 2` tall and at least 2 months old!! no blosems as of yet!! do you think I could over fertilizered ? and the plants are real thick!! planted in 52″ rows!! tell me your thoughts!! thanks~~~BILL

  • LC

    Dear Kenny, We have one Okra stalk about 4 foot now and three others between 2-3 feet tall now as well. Our issue? Wood-like veggies. Once it matures we wait after the flower drops and the pods are 4-6″ immediately. That is literally within 48-72 hours and then we cut per recommendations yet, they are still too tough (wood like) for eating. On occasion, we get two to three 3-4″ edible pods. What are we doing wrong? It seems wasteful to toss 90% out because it is inedible. We would prefer to be eating 90% of it. We save the edible ones up until we have enough for low country okra and tomatoes recipe, which is quite good. We are on the east coast of Florida. Thanks.

  • scott brown

    Why are okra annuals? my okra get to 6 feet tall, the stalks look very hardy, but I pull them every year, and start new the next year?

  • Some great tips in there. Okra loves hot weather, so we grow them easily in Southeast Louisiana.

  • Rebecca

    Hi. Has anyone ever had their okra pods develop bumps? Mine have been producing for a month or two just fine, but now the most recent pods are covered in small bumps the same color as the pod. It has been very hot recently (100+). Any insights?

  • I grew okra for the first time this year from store bought plants. It was great – low maintenance and high yield.

  • Craig

    Kenny – very glad to find this information! I had a good bunch of plants here in SW Minnesota on my first try this summer. They don’t have time to get huge like some have described, but I was satisfied with what I got. I’m wondering about crop rotation and what okra takes from or adds to the soil. Also thinking about soil diseases that may persist with different plants. Is it a legume, or more on the order of peppers & tomatoes?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Craig, okra is in the mallow family and isn’t related to any other common edible crops. I plant mine in different sections of the garden but am not particular about the crops that it follows. Not sure if it uses up high levels of any specific nutrients, I just add compost to keep the soil fertile and supplement with seaweed and fish fertilizers during the season.

  • Jerry

    We are having an extended growing season in SWMO, no frost yet. About a month ago the tops of the plants started getting tiny black spots, like eggs. There are flies and ants on the black spots but nothing has hatched from them. What could it be?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Jerry, I’m not sure what the black spots are but this late in the season I wouldn’t worry too much about them. You could take a leaf to your local agriculture extension service for identification and then I could offer a better solution.

  • Jan

    I live in the FL panhandle very near the AL stateline. I put my okra in raised beds this year and have a very prolific crop. They got quite tall and as they grew (looking like a bunch of bamboo) they shed their leaves. When they got too tall for me, I cut them off about halfway down and they leafed out again and continued to produce the pods. It is now getting chilly at night (39 degrees this morning) yet they are still flowering. The stems are at least an inch or two thick. Will they overwinter and come back in the spring? I may try as an experiment. Any thoughts?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Jan, you can give it a try but okra is pretty sensitive to cold temps and I doubt that it will last through your winter season. Also I think it may actually be more productive to just raise new plants in the spring, but if you do experiment stop back to let us know how it turned out.

  • David

    Kenny, I will be planting my garden this year in 4×4 raised beds. What spacing should I use for okra?

  • Jan

    Well, after a VERY cold winter so far here in NW FL, my experiment with my okra failed. They died. 🙁 Since they are so easy to grow I’ll just start again in the spring. For David, in our square foot raised beds, we planted one per square foot….12 inch spacing. Worked for us.

  • Kenny Point

    David, I agree with Jan’s recommendation for spacing your okra plants on eight to twelve inch spacings. Plant your seeds six inches apart and thin to around twelve inches apart in each direction as the seedlings become established.

  • joyeeta

    Hi kenny,
    I am planing to plant okra in the pot on my balcony, how can I start, and what is the perfect time to start planting? Please help me.
    N.B: I am staying at Wilmington Delaware

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Joyeeta, okra likes warm weather so I wouldn’t even plant the seeds until the month of May in DE. The biggest thing is to plant them in a container that is large enough to support the plants as they mature. You may also need to stake the plants to provide them with additional support to keep them upright. For containers look for one of the smaller dwarf varieties rather than the taller types. Other than that it shouldn’t be difficult to grow okra in containers, but don’t overcrowd the pots. Good Luck.

  • Kaye

    Hi Kenny,
    Im planting a garden for the first time and am very excited! Im planning to have beans, cucumbers, carrots, okra, corn, and lettuce. I have figured out how deep and far apart to place my plants/rows but am needing to know what to plant by what? or should I place them in their own sections all together? Your help is greatly appreciated by me and my eager toddlers!

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Kaye, I try to cultivate plants with similar growth habits near each other to ease the competition and make things easier for them and for me. For example, tall plants like corn, okra, and tomatoes would be planted in a location where they won’t shade out low growing plants. Vining crops like melons, pumpkins, and squash will be planted together where they have plenty of room to spread out, and crops like pole beans, cucumbers, and peas are situated where they have support or a trellis to climb.

    By considering time to maturity you can plan so that the harvest will free up entire beds or sections of the garden that can then be replanted with another crop. Some gardeners subscribe to the idea of companion planting where certain plants are thought to grow better when other specific plants are nearby. Then there are combinations like the “Three Sisters” technique where corn, beans, and squash or pumpkins are planted together for the benefits that they provide to one another.

    Here’s a previous article about Planning the Vegetable Garden that may give you some more ideas.

  • Telicia A.

    I Kenny,
    This summer I want to try growing okra in a container. But I want to know how many seeds I should put in one container? I live in South Jersey.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Telicia, how big and deep is your container? For container culture I would plant one of the smaller dwarf varieties of okra and sow the seeds about six inches apart in each direction.

  • Scott M

    I live in south Arkansas and started my okra inside and im going to move outside in a few weeks but my plants are about 8 to 10 inches tall with 2 leaves and about the size of a pincel lead. What am i doing wrong they have been planted about 10 days.


  • Kenny Point

    Hi Scott, are your okra seedlings receiving plenty of light? It sounds like they may be growing spindly and weak because they are not receiving enough strong light. I just start my okra directly in the garden after things warm up and even here in the north there is plenty of season to harvest lots of fresh okra.

  • Vishal Jhanji

    Hi Kenny,
    I am from Pune, India. I planted the Okra seeds in the middle of Feb this year. Plants have grown to around one feet long and already giving two to three pods per plant. Though I am growing okra second time in last two years. My query is for how long okra plants last? Do i need to plant a new crop next year? I am growing them in the three feet raised bed, 4 ft wide x 12 ft long.

  • Liz Buchanan

    Hi, Kenny! I live in North Texas, and was so saddened to watch each new pod devoured by fire ants last year. My garden is organic, so I felt helpless to prevent it. However, the ants abandoned the plants by November, when I was able to eat the only two pods of the year. They were the most delicious I had ever eaten, compared to store bought. I am attempting to fight the battle this year, again, organically. I have read about molasses and orange oil, also wood ash and cayenne pepper mixed with honey. Any advice?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Vishal, the okra will continue to grow as long as the weather remains warm enough and I have seen some huge plants in southern climates and plants that even produced additional harvests from the base of plants grown in the tropics. You will need to plant a new crop next year.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Liz, when I was in St. Croix they sprinkled cinnamon around on the ground to deter the crazy ants, if the other things don’t work give that a try. Actually I would try the cinnamon first as it seems like it would be easier to apply then some of the other options you are considering. Good luck and I hope you get to enjoy more of your okra this year!

  • Wendy

    I am reading all I can about growing okra. I am a newbie to gardening and okra. (I live in middle GA now) I didn’t know about planting from seed. I purchased mine from a garden shop. Will try seed next year. My question is, can just one plant be grown or does okra require two plus plants? there are just two of us and I didn’t want an over abundance of veges on my first try out of the gate. Will one plant work or do I need to go back to the store? Thank you for all the comments! Should have come here first:)

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Wendy, you don’t need more than one plant for pollination purposes but one okra plant isn’t going to give you much production. I usually start okra from seed because it’s more economical and even for a family of two I would plant at least a dozen plants provided I had room for them in the garden.

  • Michael

    3rd year, growing OKRA. Deep South, Mississippi, Have one above ground box (sq ft gardening), just for OKRA. Box is 8ft long 2ft wide and 8 inches deep. It has 23 OKRA plants. All doing well. We grow for feezing, pickeling, and frying, and for gumbos’s. Excellent tip about cinamon at the plant base> Another, plant direct, every other week, for year round fresh OKRA. I found that nutrient replacement (jobes plant food sticks, Mirical grow), or similar plant food, bi-weekly, enhances production.

  • Michael

    Kenny: Just wanted to let you know I have been reading your posts on a daily basis. I mainly grow, for my family only, but do take time to share over growth with neighbors. A few ask for tips but I tell them to check your website, for more reliable information. Hope you don’t mind?

  • Suzie

    Hi Kenny,
    I live in Southern Arizona (a place that resembles a sun baked rock!). I have had success growing certain flowers from seeds in either raised beds or pots. This is the first time growing an edible anything. My questions are…how much is to much sun, how heat hardy is okra, are peet pots an “ok” way to start the seeds and then plant the whole thing in a very large pot AND moisture preferences for the clemson spineless. I did read the other questions first to see if mine were already answered lol and most of mine were. Thank you very much for all the info ~Suzie

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Michael, thanks for reading the site and for sharing with your friends!

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Suzie, okra loves the heat of summer here but we are not in a desert climate and it is not as hot as AZ. I would still expect that okra would grow well for you as long as you provide adequate moisture. I don’t like to use peat pots myself because they dry out and sometimes don’t seem to decompose well after they are in the ground. Now I just tear them off before planting the seedling. Please let us know how the okra performs in your climate.

  • Nathan W

    Kenny, I have decided to plant my okra in pots this year, what size of pot do you recommend? I bought a dozen pots that are 6″ deep and 5″ wide. Before I plant them I wanted to make sure the pots are big enough.

  • Chris

    Hey Kenny. I live in the midlands or South Carolina and have sandy soil. I did a home soil sample test and based on my results I added calcium nitrate, bone meal, and muriate of potash in amounts according to their labels. I have planted 55 okra plants in 5 rows, rows are 3 feet apart and plants are 18 inches apart. They are 5 to 8 inches tall, and the garden gets 5-6 hours of sun per day. Two things I am concerned about. 1) A strong wind or moderately heavy rain knocks them over. Will they stand back up?, are my stalks weaker than they should be? 2) The leaves have very small black dots all over them, is this normal? Thanks in advance, Chris

  • Kenny Point

    Nathan, bigger is better but the pots that you have will probably be large enough depending on the variety of okra that you are planting. The dwarf varieties work best in containers. One problem that you may encounter as the okra plants mature is them getting top heavy and causing the containers to tip over.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Chris, the okra plants usually support themselves pretty good but if they fall over they won’t stand back up without your assistance. I would stand them up and hill some soil around the base. Your plants do sound weaker than average for some reason. The black dots on the leaves are not normal but at this point I wouldn’t stress over them.

  • Sherri Wright

    Hi…I live in the Yukon and started okra indorrs. Its now in my greenhouse and about 3 feet tall. I see they are self pollinating — so I don’t need to do anything to them at all? The greenhouse is closed most of the time to retain heat and humidity so not a lot of bugs get in for pollinating things. Thanks for any guidance you can provide.

  • Hi Kenny, I live in the piedmont of NC and am growing okra in a garden box container on my patio. The undersides of the the leaves have many small spherical beads of colorless liquid about the size of the head of a pin adhering to them. They come off easily if touched and leave no mark on the leaves, which seem healthy. I sprayed with Neem for aphids with no effect on the spheres. Any ideas?

  • My Okra plants (4) are roughly 2 feet tall and are standing healthy. Hot and dry here in Georgia but have a few pinkish flowers that have not opened yet. I discovered a hoard of ants surrounding the flower and they appear to have destroyed it.
    Suggestions for keeping these pests off?

    Thanks, jeff

  • Darryl Hall


    My okra garden usually produces about 50 pounds per week. It’s only three inches tall now. I always prune some of the leaves off of the stalks to encourage more pods. If I understood the goal better, then it would be easier to select leaves for removal. Any thoughts?

  • Bobby

    HI Jeff,
    I had the same problem here in MS this summer. When I tilled up the garden there must have been an ant mound int there and they actually settled in a couple of rows. I contacted local farm supply stores and they recomended 7 spray or ant killer. I put ant killer on the edge of the rows and watered them down and almost over night they quit attacking my okra

  • Cheri W W

    Hi Kenny,
    Central Florida here: I have tried for the last 3 years to grow a garden, in soil, topsy turvy, with zero results…and this year i decided to go hydroponic …. OMG! started the seed in rock wool, then transferred to a bubbler type of hydro system, using natural sun light, … and at 6 weeks, the plants, are at 4ft or so and the leaves are the size of dinner plates… MY QUESTION is : at what timing do they start to bloom?
    Many thanks,

  • Suzanne

    I have several Okra plants. This is my 2nd year and I want a higher yield that last year , only a few. My other plants are doing great. My friend grew okra before and keeps telling me to cut the large leaves off ( like almost scalp them) she says it will cause them to produce more. Is this so, I have done this and I don’t see them producing like she is implying, What is the best way to grow okra? I am in NC in the middle of the state?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Suzanne, I have never tried removing the okra leaves, the lower ones usually die and fall off on their own but it seems like the leaves would be needed to help produce nutrients for the plant. I focus on building good soil and the okra plants always seem to get off to a slow start but they are very productive by mid summer.

  • Darryl Hall


    You asked “What is the best way to grow okra?” Okra likes it hot and dry with about 1″ rain per week. Like all plants, okra does not like chlorinated water. Absolutely never use fertilizer on okra. I made that mistake four years ago. My thirty pounds per week turned into a few pods per week. That went on for five weeks. I’ve tried both growing with and without leaf removal. With leaf removal seems to lead to better production. I wish I could tell you how to do it. Every summer I often doubt what I’m doing myself. The old way was to whip okra with a switch. I may try that this year just to see what happens.

  • Michael

    Suzanne: I live in South MS. and my OKRA garden has 23 plants. We have been in a severe drought this year, so watering my plants is first chore every morning. Chlorinated water is all I have (city services), and although it may retard plant growth, it still beats the alternative. I pick one pod from almost every plant every one or two days. To my knowledge, I have never stripped leaves off the plants, as the bottom leaves drop off every now and then. My pods are always picked at close to three inches long, young and tender, as 5 to 6 nch pods are a little tough. I fertilize about once every 6 weeks, regardless. (Miracle grow). Don’t know if that helps, but I thought I would pass it along.


  • travis

    Hi i have several Okra plants and they don’t seem to be growing and I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong in the moment I live in northern Germany. My plants have lots of sun and rain but I’m still not sure. Should I put nutrients in the soil or compost?

  • Kenny Point

    Travis, fertilizing the okra plants wouldn’t hurt but they often get off to a slow start, especially if the weather has really warmed up yet. Once they get going they will start producing lots of pods pretty quickly.

  • Kenny,

    My okra pods are yellow and seem to not have the typical ‘ribs’; they are almost smooth. Can you tell me if this is a problem?


  • Kenny Point

    Hi Yvonne, doesn’t sound like a problem to me, it’s likely just a different okra variety from what you are accustomed to. I actually prefer the okra varieties with pods which are smooth and perfectly round, rather than ribbed because they remind me of the types that I saw my grandfather grow when I was a kid.

  • Adithya

    Hi Kenny,
    I live in Saskatoon, Canada (zone 2b). I’m growing okra in a raised bed inside a low tunnel covered with floating row cover, which is itself inside a greenhouse! This makes it a good 4-5 F degrees warmer than outdoors at night and 30 degrees warmer than outdoors in the day. All this just to get okra to grow up here! Anyway, I’m having the same buttoning issue someone else brought up. My okra flower and then produce pods that never get larger than a bean. I’m just patiently waiting to see if the next set of pods are larger. Do you know how much is too hot for them? I let it get up to 110 before I vent the greenhouse.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Adithya, I would concentrate more on increasing the soil temps in your case… maybe use a black plastic mulch and then vent your tunnel before the air temps reached 110. I don’t know if it is too hot for your okra but I would vent before the temperatures rose that high.

  • Sandra

    Hi Kenny,

    I’m in SE Tennessee and I’m growing Okra for the first time. My plants look good for the most part and are starting to produce but it looks like ants are eating the leaves. Since I’ve got okra pods on the plants I don’t want to spray with insecticide so what else can I try? Also, when I cut the pods how close to the stalk should I cut the stem? They all seem to grow out of a “V” between the stalk and a leaf and it’s hard to get very close into the stalk. Last but not least, should I be removing the lower leaves. They eventually turn yellow and drop off anyway but should I just cut them off?

    Thanks – this site is great and I’ve gotten tons of good information from reading the prior posts!

  • Bettye

    My okra was planted the last of May. They grew beautifully. They are approximately 3 feet tall. I had have minimal blossums and two okra pods. However, the leaves are approximately 1 foot wide. So I cut some of them off to encourage blossoms and fruit. Should I be discouraged? I was so looking forward to a bountiful production. Should I be more patient? By the way, this is an organic garden.

  • Bettye,

    Apparently this is happening all over the country. I should of been picking 70 pounds per week at the middle of last month. Today will be the first day that I pick at least a pound. I’ve been growing okra for a decade. A man up the street from me normally picks enough field peas from his yard to fill a freezer. He’s picked just enough to go with his supper every night. A man I know in Idaho plants root crops for a living. This year was a bust for him. Makes me wonder what’s going on and will happen again next year.

  • Michael

    For Bettye and Darryl:
    Growing Okra for third year. I had 23 plants out. Normally, I would have gallon freezer bags full, at this time of the year. I too, have experienced a slow yeild this year. We were in a serious drought here in Mississippi. Last week, more than 10 inches of rain. I am re-planting Okra this week, amoung other slow yeild plants, (bush beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, black-eyed peas, baby limas, and corn). The only advantage for me, is a long, and warm season, in the deep south, but that doesn’t mean the yield will increase.

  • Wendy

    My plants are about knee high. I planted in Mid May and I live in middle GA. We have been in a drought so I’ve been watering every other day for 20 minutes. I’ve had 1 okra. that’s it. I too am seeing a lot of ants on my stalks and on the flowers. I know some plants need the ants to eat away “wax” that actually helps the plant produce so I wasn’t sure if ants are bad. This is my first garden. I am trying to research all I can but not sure what to do to help my plants grow. Can anyone offer some advice? Do I get rid of the ants? Am I watering too much?

  • Sandra

    The ants are still around . . . I’ve about given up on them but I do have okra – not as much as I’d like but I’m not sure how many plants it would take to get a good serving for 2 a few times a week. Even with the ants I’ve got 6 or 7 that are producing one or two pods a day. I water the entire garden once or twice a week depending on whether we’ve had rain. We’re grilling our little harvest of okra and it is out of this world good!

    My producing plants are almost 5 feet tall now and there is a pretty good sized gap (3-4 inches) between each leaf/pod. They seem to be getting closer together but at this rate, the plants are going to be 8 or 9 feet tall before they quit producing. I planted Clemson spineless okra. My Father-in-Law has Cow Horn okra and his plants are much shorter and each leaf/pod is right above the last one. I’d say he’s harvested 20 or more pods from each plant and they are only about 4 feet tall. He cuts the leaf when he cuts the pod. Is this just the nature of the different varieties?

  • Sandra

    One more thing, in addition to my “producing” plants I’ve got another 6 or 8 plants that are growing much slower even though they were planted at the same time and have the same sun and water but different soil (new section of garden added this year). They are just now starting to flower so I guess they’ll provide me with okra when the others get so tall I can’t reach them!

  • David D.

    This is the first time I have used your site and it is GREAT!!! Wish I would have found it before I planted my Okra. LOL Grew up near Erie, PA…moved to Batesville, Arkansas for 12 years and fell in love with fried okra so now that I have moved back to the Erie area I thought….what the heck….I’ll just throw some seeds in the ground. LOL These things are producing GREAT!!! I really didn’t think they would grow up here. Going to grow a BUNCH of them next year and introduce my northern friends to how GREAT okra tastes.

  • Michele

    Hi, I really appreciate your site. I bought two seedlings in a pot of organic Cajun Delight okra and planted them together about 6″ apart in a pot 13″ wide x 13″ deep, oops. They are growing well and producing flowers and little buttons of pods in our south-facing patio in San Diego despite some morning fog and cool night temps. Is it too late to dig up one of them and transplant it into another pot? Thank you!!

  • chris

    Being a little lazy and not reading through all the posts here, but concerning the “hair” on the okra…does it fall off after harvest or are the fruits I’m used to buying the supermarket somehow prepared that way for marketability?

    (Okra is a new plant for us in the garden this year…)

  • Kenny Point

    Chris, I’ve never really noticed “hair” on my okras… I doubt that there is any special preparation or treatment, it could be something specific to the okra variety that you are growing. If they are just fine hairs I would think that cooking would eliminate them.

  • Darryl

    I’ve been growing okra for 11 years. It’s never been hairy. This year’s okra is a flop. I should of been picking 70 pounds by the middle of June. The most it’s put out so far is around 23 pounds in a week. Everyone around here that planted a garden, no matter what they planted, had a bad garden year.

  • Sandra

    Question – I’ve got 6 okra plants that are over 6 feet tall (maybe 7 feet). The pods are starting out much bigger than the earlier pods. I suspect they are tougher than the earlier pods even though I am still cutting them when they are 2-3 inches long. Should I top the plant? If so, how do I determine where to make the cut?

    FYI, the plants that were slower to mature are doing fine. I didn’t stagger the planting but nature staggered their growth!


  • Kenny Point

    Hi Sandra, I would not top the plant. Not sure what you mean when you say the “pods are starting out much bigger” but at 2 – 3 inches in length they should not be fibrous or tough at all. It varies with okra variety that you cultivate but I harvest most okra pods at 4 – 5 inches and some even bigger without them becoming tough or woody.

  • Sarita

    Hi Kenny,

    First of all, your website is really helpful. Thanks 🙂
    My question is that I live in Atlanta GA and we don’t have much space to do gardening. So, I bought some huge pots to try Container Gardening! I planted Okra seeds on 14-AUG-2011. Do you think its a good time to start that at this time of the year? I water them twice a day. Any idea when should I see the first set of seedlings?

    Thanks for your help!

  • Darryl


    You should have had the okra seed in the pots by the first week of June. Okra generally takes around 55 days from germination to see the first okra pods. Now is the time to sow greens (turnip, collard, and mustard). The warm season is 2009 and 2010 didn’t actually come to an end until sometime in November. Maybe 2011 will work out the same way. The problem is that okra prefers a soil temperature of at least 90 degrees F. With night time temperatures falling and daytime temperatures below 90 that just won’t happen.

  • Kenny Point

    Sarita, I agree with Darryl… it is very late to be starting okra, they like warm weather and grow very slowly until things heat up.

  • Sandra

    By bigger I meant in diameter . . . I didn’t measure but the diameter of the pods coming from the smaller plants is much smaller than those on my bigger plants – all same variety and same planting date but half matured much more slowly. If memory serves, the pods on the bigger plants were smaller in diameter a few weeks ago – they seem to be getting bigger as the plants get taller. I haven’t cooked any since I noticed this but I’m concerned that they are getting tougher. We’ll have some tonight so I’ll know.

    According to my Father in Law the Cow Horn variety stays tender even when the pod gets longer. My crop this year is all Clemson spineless so I try to cut them at about 3 inches in length. Next year I’m planting Cow Horn!

  • Peter K

    What causes okra pods to curl? I have had great success with my okra and noticed a couple of the pods curling last year. This year it seems that more of them are curling. Any thoughts?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Peter, I’ve noticed a few pods curling this season also. It is from one particular variety that has deep ridges, the other varieties are growing straight. I don’t worry about it and just harvest and use the curled pods as usual.

  • stev703

    I live in Central Texas. My okra (Clemson Spineless) has yet to produce.
    I planted late (June 9th), it was up by the 13th, and is currently about 3 feet tall and the plants look good. No visible pests, and I water it about an inch per week with soaker hoses.
    I have another small plot of another variety (Texas Red or something like that…) which was planted about a week later and is just starting to produce on a few plants.
    I am at a loss as to the “why” of this lack of production on the Clemson Spineless. The plus 100 heat every day for over a month combined with the extreme drought?
    Maybe someone has some ideas, but I’m just confused!
    Meanwhile, I’m just waiting…..

  • Kenny Point

    Stev, it should come around, sounds like the plant is healthy so there is no reason that it shouldn’t produce some okra pods for you. Just give it more time and water and feed the plants as needed.

  • Darryl

    I’m sure most people here know not to fertilize okra. It is a terrible boo boo. I did that once three years ago. Never again. Here’s the thing. My okra is acting as if it was fertilized. It is producing lots of new stems and leaves. It is no longer bearing okra pods. Does anyone have any idea what might of caused this. I’ve been growing okra for eleven years. This is a first for me.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Darryl, I sure don’t know not to fertilize okra… I do it “as needed” and never have an issue with them not bearing okra pods. It’s going to vary depending on the soil and the type of fertilizer that you apply. I have seen instances where applying high amounts of manure or nitrogen rich fertilizers to tomato plants causes lush growth at the expense of fruit production but even that is an example of excess and the wrong type of fertilizer.

    What did you use when you fertilized your okra plants? Maybe your soil has become out of balance and is in need of a soil test to analyze for sure if that is the issue.

  • Darryl


    We have red clay for soil. I only fertilized them once three years ago. I used your basic 10-10-10 lawn fertilizer.

    I’m planning to rope the garden into sections so I can take core samples for each section for the county extension service this winter. In a normal year I would pick seventy pounds per week. I’ve yet to pick seventy pounds for the whole season. CEC was the first possibility that popped into my head. pH is a close second. CEC and pH are directly related to each other.

    A lot of people around here grow okra in the back yards. Everyone of them has had the same experience with their okra that I’m having. The problem must be something else. Still having samples analyzed is something that should of been done years ago. There’s no point in putting that off another year.

  • Denise

    I am trying okra for the first time this summer. The seeds got flooded out the first time, (mid-west US) so I planted again. The plants look healthy, are about 12-16″ tall but have no suggestions of flowers. Since reading that they grow to many feet, when should I begin to see budding. The rest of my garden has produced an abundance of produce, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, cukes etc.

  • stev703

    Kenny, while researching my okra non-production, I came across this article on the Alabama Cooperative Education website on commercial okra production.

    Essentially, it says that 95 degrees is an upper temperature limit for okra production. I suspect that is a little low, but it could well explain the lack of production with my current temps well over 100 degrees every day for over a month. Yesterday and the day before were over 110 at my house.
    I will hope for cooler weather in September, and maybe production will start up then.
    Thanks for your website.

  • geri

    One of my okra plants is developing a round ball in the stem of the leaf and it is bursting open. Do you know what is causing this?

  • Thank you so much for your comments and feedback, they mean a lot to me!

  • Mancini Gosine

    What fertilizer should i use 4 my okra (ochro) in Trinidad & Tobago?

  • Kenny Point

    Mancini, okra isn’t fussy compost, fish emulsion, or any balanced organic fertilizer should do fine for feeding your okra plants.

  • Christy

    i grow everything in containers, what size pot would you recommend for a single Okra plant?

  • Kenny Point

    Christy, it would probably be best to use a larger pot like a deep windowbox and group a number of okra plants together but for a single plant I would use a container that’s at least 12 inches wide and deep enough to support the plant since some varieties grow pretty tall.

  • stev703

    Kenny, just a folllow-up report for information on my posts above on my lack of okra production.
    Over the past 3 weeks or so, the daily high has dropped to 100 or below and my okra has finally begun to produce!
    Since nothing else has really changed (still no rain!) I must attribute the lack of production to be the direct result of the +100 degree heat we experienced daily in July and August.
    Guess the Alabama extension office was right!!
    Again, thanks for the website.

  • Kenny Point

    Stev, thanks for the update and I’m glad to hear that your okra plants are finally producing for you.

  • Christy

    good so the 24″ pots I have sat aside for them will be good, next question is:

    as a child I remember m mother growing okra, but I can’t remember, what is the average yield for a plant?

  • Kenny Point

    They aren’t overly productive… I would guess that you’d get a few okra pods each week from an individual plant.

  • beth

    Can anyone tell me a good variety of okra to grow in northeastern New Mexico, where summers are hot, dry, and windy, elevation 5,000 feet.

  • Christy

    Hey Kenny, I wanted to let you know, I started my Okra, a Jambalaya Hybrid of green dwarf. I soaked 3 seeds and planted 3 unsoaked seeds, the soaked seeds are coming up very nicely in a 18 gal round wash tub, around here we use then for muck buckets. The first plant to sprout came up day before yesterday (the 14th) and is already 4 inches tall the second one is just breaking the top of the soil. with luck all will come up and i’ll be able to make some good Gumbo this year

  • Britian

    I sowed Clemson spinless okra in my garden. They seem like they could be doing better. Do I need to fertilize again. I used 10,10,10 one inch under my seeds. Or am I doing something else wrong?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Britian, okra is just slow to get started and likes it better once things heat up during the summer. I would just give them time to establish themselves and then watch them take off.

  • KC

    Hey Kenny well i planted some okra from seeds in June of last year and just let things go dormant during the winter. It would seems since this winter was soo mild here in Texas my tomato plants just continuedd to produce. the other wild thing was my okra plants went brown and then some of them started to go green again. So i left two that were producing leaves and guess what i have two cute flowers on one and just leaves on the other. But both are producing buds just fine. Gotta love texas weather. I also grow my plants in containers. htey are roughly 2ft diameter and about 2 1/2 deep. In one of the containers i bought some transplants and they were three in each transplant pot and i put 3 pots into a container. Well those things are going nuts. I just used the same dirt that i already had in the container from last year but i added mushroom compost. Before putting the transplants in hole tossed in compost and covered with compost. All of the of the plants are growing fine and all have produced buds. They have been in container for a month and i have given them extra fertilizer. What can i say i was curious as to what would happen planting them so close. When i had pulled previous okra plants up i had notices the roots hadnt spread out but just down. I have also just tossed some bean seeds into one of the containers that has only 2 okra plants. Most of my planting is done more along square inch not square foot, then anything else. Currently all containers are going nuts and everyone seems to be producing and happy. I am going to put a coouple of okra seeds out into the container that i have int the front. it is a 4ft X 1′ diameter kiddie pool. Curious to see how it will act in a more shallow container that also gets different sun. I also water every other day i use a drip irrigation system.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi KC, thanks for the info. That is very interesting about your okra, please let us know how they perform this season.

  • Sue

    We live in eastern Oklahoma and have around 80 okra plants growing at this time. We add composted manure only, and we add that when the plants are small or when transplanting. If we have to water or receive a lot of rain we add more when the plants are about a foot tall. We have found that you need to leave about three feet between each plant for max returns. Plants are larger and healthier. We save our seeds. We use no chemicals in our garden so we know what we eating.

  • Miranda

    I planted burgandy okra about 2 weeks ago inside my house. I placed 2-3 seeds per container. They have began to sprout about 2 inches high. When should I being to harden them off ? Should I now separate the seedling and place them each into a larger container until I am ready to place them into the garden? If I were to place them into 5 gal containers how many plants should I place per container? Help, this is my very first time planting a garden.

  • jeff

    I live in NE Oklahoma and this winter has been exceptionally mild, the second week of May i seeded about 150 Okra seeds about six inches apart in four rolls about two feet apart (between rolls), i had two to three seed in each hole. Before the seed emerged i made a tea of horse manure ( we have ten horses so we have an abundance ) and i would pour the tea on the rolls in the morning and water that evening, as of today my plants are approximately eight to ten inches tall. Yesterday i thinned to one plant every six inches and will thin again to every other plant in about two weeks. I planted four more short (15′) rolls last week and they are about two inches tall already. we have been having seventy degree nights and ninety degree days, that and manure tea has got to be good. We love fried Okra and plan to have it all next winter. We will have about eighty plants when thinned hope they make a lot of Splineless Clemson. Thanks

  • Sue

    Jeff your okra plants should be awesome. I removed all lower limbs on one row of orka, also removing all suckers. Other row left all limbs on. Testing to see which works best. We removed all lower limbs on our tomatoes this year and they are doing great.

    Miranda I have grown okra in a container – not sure how they will work. I would think the container will need lots of room for root growth as okra plants how big roots.

  • jeff

    On thursday i removed the lower two limbs on every other plant of the taller Okra plants, I thought i would compare and see how much difference in growth before i continue to thin.
    I did remove the lower limbs on our Tomatoe plants and noticed a difference in the plants this morning.
    Revised gestimate since last post i am hoping to have about ninety five Okra plants producing in our garden. Thanks

  • Dana

    Oh please help me! lol. This is the first time I have grown Okra, or ANYTHING edible for that matter. My lettuce is beautiful, my squash is already producing small little baby squash, my watermelons are growing, my brocoli is growing ( slowly) and my OKRA was doing great, its about a foot tall- however- last week the stalks and leaves are now curling. I can find NO information about why it is doing this. Thy are not wilted- the stalk and leaves seem strong- just curled…any ideas??? Is it a problem I can fix, or just chalk this one up as a loss??

  • Barbara

    please help me. I live in Saskatchewan Canada, orginally from Dallas TX.. I’ve tried planting Cajan Okra that I have bought from a local greenhouse & all three plants have died as well as seedly I’ve planted that did not come up.. Its been a mild & wet summer, thats the reason I have concluded they died(?). I’ve bought two more a couple days ago, I’ve kept them outside still in their original containers. The leaves under the direct sun wilts the leaves! I bring them back inside, the leaves are once again healthy. I have planted more from seeds recently, they haven’t come up as of yet. I remember while in Texas, they flourished in the sun & heat. I am considering planting them in the flower garden, where they’ll only get the morning sun. Can you tell me what I can do to produce the plants I do have ? The plants I bought are 12 inches tall, Can you tell me how far in the ground do I plant them ?

  • jeff

    Well the first planted Okra is between 21″ and 24″ and started blooming today, I sure was hoping the Okra would be taller when i started picking, i sure do hate bending over, will the Okra continue to grow or will it stay at this height since it started blooming?. The second planting is doing good, its about 8 to 12″ tall and putting on some nice leaves. I counted 150 plants today, guess we will be eating Okra on the fourth of July.

  • Sue

    Jeff sounds like your okra is on track. Soon you will have to bend it over to pick. We are picking daily and I also hate the bending. In a couple of weeks if the heat and dry weather does not stunt the plants they will be the right height and then the next thing you know they are above your head. Removing the lower limbs of okra was a waste of time for me. They all grew back and even added some extra. Removing the lower limbs from the tomatoes really made a difference – we have big, great tasting ones that are not rotting on the botton plus we do not have dead lower leaves. Hate to see the dry – hot stuff start.

  • jeff

    First planting is doing good and i am picking four to six inch pods. I am a little worried about the second planting, some of the leaves are turning yellow on the outside 1/3 of the leaf and the yellow portion is dry and crumbles in your hand. I use soaker hoses and i water along the stems twice a week till the ground is soaked down a couple of inches. Is anybody else having any kind of a problem like this?

  • jeff

    Was gone the last two days to southern Okla. Went out tonight and picked a three pound coffee can full, looks like i might have to start daily, damn the bad luck, second planting never got more than 12-14 inches tall but it is making Okra, I seen several 1 1/2 to 2 inch pods on the smaller plants, had a great fried okra supper before the 4th. Hope everybody is picking great Okra.

  • Sue

    We soaked our two long rows of okra, mulched with 4″s of pine needles and then we had a .10 inch of rain. Really helped. We are picking okra daily – putting up some, eating a lot and sharing with family and friends. We always like to have a least 30 bags in the freezer to start the winter.

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  • Lori Evans

    Our okra is beautiful about three feet tall but no blooms yet. My husband thinks they aren’t going to bloom and is ready to bush-hog them down. I want to give them more time. What do you think?

  • Kenny Point

    Lori, I wouldn’t give up on them yet, hold off on the bush hog and give them more time, I think that they will eventually yield a harvest for you.

  • Jeanie

    My okra seems to be doing well but I am starting to see webs with micro small red things crawling on them. I don’t want to use chemicals if I can help it. What do I do? What might these pests be? HELP!!

  • Courtney

    This is my first time growing anything. I chose okra cuz I was told they were low maintenance. I have 6 nice stalks and leaves so far. I do have ants and read yur other posts to resolve that. However I have 2 questions and forgive my ignorance on the subject. What are those tiny almost see through ball looking things on the under side of the leaves? Also my leaves are getting these white streaks and eventually some being consumed by it. Is this a fungus? What can I do? I live in Louisiana and am looking forward to some home grown okra! Any help would b great!

  • Andy

    Hi Kenny,
    What makes my okra plants produce new leaves with interveinal chlorosis? I looked it up and it’s typical of iron or other micronutrient deficiencies but I fertilized the soil with kelp meal before planting. Too much water? Too little water? I have plastic mulch warming the soil.

  • Christy

    ok i feel kinda dumb about this, i have two small plants that are doing well they both came out with 3 little buds, but only one pod grew on each plant… now here is where the dumb comes in… how do i know when to pick the pods?

  • Sue

    This year has been tough in our area (eastern Oklahoma) for growing okra. We have two long rows and due to dry conditions production has been way down compared to previous years.
    Andy we use chicken manure that has been processed and bagged. Works great for okra. We work it in the soil before we plant and then add more when the plants are about 12″ tall. Seems to make plants strong enough to fight off all the bad stuff. Also we mulch our plants with about 6 inches of pine needles – which we gather from our pine trees. It is really dry here and we have had to run soaker hoses down the rows. About an hour ago it started to rain here – wonderful rain.

    Christy if it is dry where you are you will need to pick okra when it is around 3 to 4 inches long as it will get tough quicker – otherwise you can wait until it gets longer.

    Courtney what you may be seeing are spider nests. If so leave them as garden spiders help keep out bad bugs.

  • Christy

    well i grow mine in self watering containers so i know they are getting enough water, i think the containers are too small which is why the plants didn’t get to tall they are only like a foot or so tall maybe 2… but next year they will be in 4foot buckets

  • Ken

    I need some help. This is the 3rd year we have grown okra here in Colorado and my plant are healthy and range from 12″ – 24″ in height and will probably get to about 4′ tall by end of summer. My problem is that I only get one okra on the plant at a time and once I harvest it another blossom starts up. Should I be getting more than one okra per plant and if so what am I doing wrong? I very seldom see the blossoms open up and they seem to fall off quite easily. My gut tells me that I should be getting lots of okra per each plant but mine aren’t doing that.

  • jeff

    Sue has told you folks many good things, I no not what part of Okla she is in, we are fifty miles north of Tulsa and this is the second summer in a row with record 100+ degree temps. My Okra quit blooming after the first harvest for about a month, two weeks ago i top dressed with horse manure and i have soaker hoses in my rolls that i run for about two hours twice a week and now nearly every plant has blooms on them. I don’t worry about ants, every bloom has ants on it but a pod still forms and once your plants mature a little not much (bugs) seems to be interested. Enjoy

  • sue

    Jeff I live 50 miles south of Tulsa – plus 100 for three weeks now and forecast is not showing anything under 100 all week. We were lucky and had 1 1/2 inches of rain last week. Started watering okra again today. Lots of blooms, picking daily, have four plants we are not picking so we can save the seeds from the big pods.

    I do not worry about ants either – nothing you can do about them.

  • Julie

    Am I too late?

    I like in Chicago and its been pretty hot. I just planted my okra 3 weeks ago and yes, I know it is late in the season. My plants have about 5-7 leaves each and are about 5 inches tall.

    Do you think there is a possibility of this going anywhere? Any advice?

  • Once again This has been trying year for the garden, 114-116 degrees & no rain in western Oklahoma. even the trees are praying for dogs.We use chicken manure, lots of cotton seed hulls & pine needles for mulch for our spring garden. Our okra/tomatoes were doing great until the heat hit in July/August. With the extreme heat the garden either burns up or just quit growing. Watering each day is a waste time & expensive. Im really thinking there is a time slot when mother earth says enough is enough.. What do you think about just spring & fall planting only.

  • Sara Jones

    I live in an area of South Crolina where there is red clay under the darker soil. The area in which I plant okra is basically red clay and my okra now is 8 to 12 feet tall. We cut it by one pulling the stalk over to reaching height while the other cuts. We have to cut every day! Could we cut the stalks at 4 to 6 feet and let suckers grow and produce okra that one person could harvest??

  • jeff

    Well here it is almost Sept. 1st, August was really rough on the Okra, I know Okra likes hot weather but it seems like my Okra shut down with only miminal blooming during the 100 plus days, although the television never acknowledged it but we had several 116 degree plus days in the shade. During the last week we were lucky enough to get two rains of 1/10 of an inch and last night we got 1 1/2 inch of rain, last week nearly all of the plants started blooming again, on thursday i picked three pods on friday i picked five pods and on saturday i picked a three pound coffee can full, today i picked half of can and it lookes like i’ll get another half tomorrow, they are predicting mid ninety’s all week. Sue is about 100 miles south of me hope she has improving harvest also. Jeff

  • Sue

    Jeff ran sure has helped. With the rain and temps in the low 90’s okra should be putting on nice big pods.

  • Paula

    I picked my okra Monday and put it in a cooler bag. Here it is Wednesday and I remembered it 🙁 It has small black spots on it- almost like mildew/mold. Do you think it’s still any good?

  • Jeff

    Well I hope everybody had a good Okra Harvest this year. We are still picking Okra but not as much as a month ago. We had a frost last week and the oldtimers told me to go out at daybreak and water all of the garden, I turned the nozzle on and soaked the entire garden, it worked because i picked three 3lb coffee cans tonight. Most all the plants are in bloom and the weather forcast thru next wednesday is eighties during the day, I’ll be eating fried Okra and freezing some tomorrow.Hope to pick Okra till Christmas.

  • kc

    So my okra is actually blooming even more then it had over the summer. But something odd has happened. the bottom leaves had fallen off earlier and now there are new leaves growing. Also the new leaves are turning into branches so that my okra plant actually looks like trees. Is this typical. The okra is now growing all over not just at the top of the plant. And it hasnt gotten extremely tall about 4 1/2 feet. these are growing in containers. Not sure how much 12 plants should produce but i am getting about 6-10 pods a week.

  • Jeff

    kc, We had a really hard freeze shortly after my last post for three nights in a roll. I had 170 plants out in the garden and up till the freeze they were doing the same as yours, i had pods on low branches as well as on the very top of sprouts that had no leaves, the last okra that we ate was a little tuff even though it was young 2-3 inch pods guess you have to expect it when you harvest in October. I guess i’ll start pulling plants and burn them to add ash till it in and go get my horse barn cleaned out so i can put about four inches of manure and hay on the garden for the winter.

  • Jeff

    Been tilling horse manure into my garden area and burning brush and tree limbs over my garden area, Oklahoma is calling for a mild freeze Friday morning and one possibly next week. I won’t put Okra in untill nights are consistantly fifty degrees. Probally first or second week of May.

  • Ray

    The reason a lot of people do not plant okra here in the south is we tend to plant at the end of April just before the soil warms up to a 55 degree temp required by okra. If planted early the plant will only grow to around 4 inch high and stop growing.

  • Melissa

    Hi I’m new to gardening so I’m learning everything as I go lol I started my okra seeds indoors because I live in Alaska. After they looked ready I planted them around May 28th out side, the carrots and pumpkins are growing rapidly but my 6 okra plants are only around 3-4 inches tall if that is this a normal height for as long as they have been planted or how tall should they be? This is a heat breaking summer 70-80 during the day 60-70 at night.. Also after how many days should I see a flower and how tall should they be at that point? Thanks so much!

  • Sue

    Here in eastern Oklahoma we planted our okra seed in ground on May 15 as we waited for soil to warm. It had been a cold, wet spring to that point. Our okra is blooming with small pods showing, plants around 24″ tall on average. Once we start picking okra plants will grow as the summer really heats up. With your high temp of 80 it will probably take them longer.
    Please let us know how long it takes for them to bloom.

  • Johnny

    My sister in Colo. just called and asked why their okra is so hard, even the small one. The brand or is there something that can be done to help this problem?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Johnny, I have only known the okra pods to become woody when they were left on the plant too long and were overgrown. The younger pods should remain tender.

  • Melissa Mills

    Just an FYI for anyone growing okra. You can dehydrate it to use it for cooking! This is our first year doing so and we’re so pleased with the results. Just wash the pods well, dry them and slice. No need to blanch! Place on the dehydrator racks. Ours took only about 6 hours to dry, then we stored them in freezer bags. They’re great in soups and gumbos with only adding a little extra liquid. We’ve heard they can be reconstituted and fried, but as we still have fresh coming in, we haven’t tried that. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you could still dry them in the oven on cookie sheets, the lowest heat with the door propped open a tad. I would do this overnight.

  • What causes bumps on okra. I have heard it is from stink bugs. Is this correct? Are they ok to eat

  • Kenny Point

    Hi John, I am not sure what is causing the bumps on your okra pods, whether it is caused by insects or some type of virus but I would think that the pods would be okay to eat if they look okay inside when you cut them open.

  • Sue

    Had bumps on yours late in the season – did not hurt taste. I believe the cool, wet weather was the cause.

  • mike

    I am thinking of growing Okra here in Sacramento, Ca.,……I started reading your comments and just wished you had kept questions and replies that to particuliar region climate areas and or states rather than having to read alot of things that would not pertain to my region……just a thought.

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  • raven bard

    I do not remember what variety of Okra we planted one year but hubby had to climb a ladder to cut the pods growing at the top of the stalk..Bumper crop too.

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