Monstrous Okra Sighted in Mississippi Garden

September 18, 2007

All you Great Pumpkin Admirers will have to look up to the latest giant vegetable on display here at Veggie Gardening Tips… it’s a monster of an okra plant grown by Terry Stout in Kiln, Mississippi.

My curiosity was piqued when Terry recently left the following comment on a previous blog entry related to growing okra in the home garden:

Ever Hear the One about the Nine Foot Okra Plant?

giant okra plant.thumbnail Monstrous Okra Sighted in Mississippi Garden“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 ½ feet tall and still growing. I measured the base of the stalk and it is 10 ½ inches. I am truly amazed and get okra everyday. Have you heard of any bigger?”

That sounded pretty impressive and my response was NO, I have never grown or even seen an okra plant that reached such monstrous proportions. Well, I have now… Terry was kind enough to share a few photos of this whopper of an okra plant and I found myself just as amazed by the size and appearance of it.

While I was halfway expecting to see a tall, spindly okra plant that could barely hold itself upright, I was pretty surprised to discover the healthy, bushy, and muscular plant that is pictured in the photos.

okra growing.thumbnail Monstrous Okra Sighted in Mississippi GardenThe okra plant’s stalk is unusually thick, but what struck me most impressively was the way that the plant is branching, its tree-like appearance, and the profusion of buds that are being produced.

Growing Giant Okra Plants in the Home Garden

Various vegetable seed catalogs list a couple of heirloom okra varieties such as Cow Horn and Bowling Red okra that are reported to reach heights of seven to eight feet. But in this case the okra is from the Clemson Spineless variety that normally only grows to a maximum of four to six feet tall.

Terry has three okra plants growing in the garden but only one of them has grown into a giant. More importantly, this remarkable okra plant has been averaging eight to ten harvested okra pods each and every day! No special care was given to the plant and this is the first time that Terry has grown an okra plant like this one.

For those of you interested in growing giant okra plants of your own, I don’t have many clues as to the cultivation secrets for this monster okra plant. I’m sure that fertile soil and the long, warm summers in Mississippi had to help, but this looks like an extraordinary okra plant even for a southern climate.

top of okra plant.thumbnail Monstrous Okra Sighted in Mississippi GardenSo whatever you do Terry, be sure that you allow a few of those okra pods to mature on the plant and then dry them for seed. Who knows, you may have stumbled upon a freak genetic prize that is very worthy of preserving and maintaining!





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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Duff Greenwood March 19, 2008 at 8:06 am

Someone just forwarded me the post about the giant okra plant in Mississippi, and I thought you would be interested in hearing ofsome of the okra plants my father grew in Southern Louisiana. He heard from an old farmer that when harvesting fruit from the okra plant, one should cut off the okra pod and the leaf just below it. Thinking his leg was being pulled, he tried it on one plant only. That plant thrived, and continued to bear okra for the entire growing season. The plant grew so tall he had to use a long pole with a nail in the end to bend the plant over so he could get to the pods! The next season, he used this technique on all the okra plants, and had some well over ten feet tall, still bearing fruit.

Kenny Point March 19, 2008 at 9:13 pm

Duff, that is very interesting and I have never heard of that strategy for growing and harvesting okra. It sounds easy enough and like there could very well be something about the technique that spurs additional growth and production. It reminds me a little of the way that some gardeners harvest their Brussels Sprouts. I’ll have to remember to try it out on my okra plants this summer. Thanks for the tip!

Pete April 21, 2008 at 10:55 pm

On planting okra, several years ago I planted a hand full of okra seeds in the southwest part of my home. Soon after that many sprouts began to grow. Then they began to fuse together turn into a tree. It is now 15-20 feet tall. It hasn’t produced okra yet but it is a good shade tree.

Kenny Point April 22, 2008 at 4:43 am

Hello Pete, are you positive that those were okra seeds that you planted? I would love to see a photo of that okra tree! :-)

Donale September 15, 2008 at 9:48 am

We have an okra plant that is 9ft 9in tall and growing. It is still producing okra.We live in Oklahoma. I will take a picture of it soon and send it in.

Mack Bice October 8, 2008 at 12:26 pm

I do not doubt the man with the tall okra plant. I have one that is 12 feet and still growing. I have to have a ladder to get to the okra on the top. I am not too far away from the man in Mississippi, just over the line in Alabama.

Tom Anderson October 14, 2008 at 9:11 am

Hi, I have a plant that is eleven feet high and has a base of 10 inches. I believe it is a heirloom varity called Cow Horn Okra. How do I send a picture?
Tom Anderson
El Paso,Texas

Pat Strickland October 17, 2008 at 8:55 am

My husband, Bobby, has several tall orka plants. The tallest is about 14 feet, it’s hard to measure exact, and it is still growing and producting orka. We live in Douglas, Ga.

Pamela Proctor November 11, 2008 at 9:17 pm

I was looking for “okra tree” and came across this. My husband is 6′ tall and our okra “trees” reached a height of about 12′. The “trunks” are about 5″ in diameter and also branch out. I live just over the TN border in Alabama. My question is if I can leave these things growing and will they bloom out again next year like a perrenial? It would take a long hard freeze to kill these things!

Mark Chance December 8, 2008 at 10:50 am

HI,

I live in St. Maarten in the Caribbean, 9ft Okra plants are not uncommon down here, In fact every single one of my plants grow to that size and higher, Being summer all the time the plant will grow until you chop it down, god only knows how hight it could go if left too do so but climing 100 10ft plus okra trees a day to pick is not practical so its usually cut down after it becomes too tall for a stepladder…

As Pamela Proctor says, 12ft is VERY easy to grow, just LET IT! naturally those of you with seasons/snow/frost will be very difficult for you to grow something that tall.

Just my 2 cents (no special freak plant in this story)

Mrs M April 25, 2009 at 10:49 pm

I find it interesting that each successive poster has even taller okra than the one before. I think this is where I am supposed to come in and say my okra is 17 ft tall. But alas mine were barely 4ft last year.

Kenny Point April 26, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Well my tallest okra plants last summer reached to about six feet tall. The plants do enjoy the longer seasons and seem to grow much taller in the south. Some of the posters have shared photos that erased any thoughts that I may have held that they were just exaggerated fisherman’s tales!

BethP May 27, 2009 at 9:26 am

Kenny,

I found this article on the Alabama extension service website. There is a pdf equiv as well. It says to cut the entire plant back to increase fall yield. Not sure this would be relevant for you but might be for those of us in warm weather/long season states.

Okra Advice

ArliV August 13, 2009 at 12:02 am

Greetings!

I’m from the Philippines and I happen to have an okra plant (grown in a 5 gallon water container) that’s about 8 feet tall. It’s still growing and I’ve noticed that it sprouted lateral branches with flower buds.

Charlie September 26, 2009 at 11:06 am

I live in Oklahoma, my tallest okra plant measured 11 feet 9 inches tall last Sunday! Still growing!!!!

sue September 29, 2009 at 5:07 pm

We have this same type of okra – do you know the name? Seeds were given to us last year from a friend. We currently have 10 or 11 foot plants – and they are still blooming and growing taller as we have had a wet fall.

natalie October 3, 2009 at 9:52 am

Wow! that’s amazing! I have an okra plant that is a little over 6 ft tall and I thought it was big, but yours definitely beats tops mine.

Partha October 10, 2009 at 2:11 pm

We live in Charlotte, NC and took some pictures of the magnificent vegetable from our backyard garden. The plant itself is 9’2″ as of today and is still in bloom making fruit. I measured the Okra at the center and it is a stunning 2 and 2/8 inches and just shy of 6 inches long. Posted a couple of pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/28459513@N05/?saved=1

Sue October 10, 2009 at 7:56 pm

We have the same type of okra – also the really large pods – do you know anything about it – what is it called – where it came from?

Chandra October 25, 2009 at 10:45 pm

This summer is our second season growing what we think is an asian variety of Okra in our backyard in Chandler Arizona. These plant too grow as trees and produces a lot of fruit. Last summer the tallest plant was about 9 feet. We saved the seeds and planted them this April. The tallest plant this time is about 12 feet and still growing. The fruits are as long as 9-12 inches.

sue October 26, 2009 at 12:48 pm

http://www.countrysidemag.com/issues/89/89-3/Janet_Willie.html this is a link to a story regarding what I believe is the same okra we are refering to. We also live in Oklahoma and had family and friends looking at our okra plants and pods in disbelief. We saved lots of seeds and hope to have even more next year.

william carter August 6, 2010 at 9:23 pm

I have two short rows of Okra, three plants from the N/E end one plant has some twentyfive to thirty bud pods extending out from around the plant getting ready to bloom, at present I will continue to apply 8-8-8 and water and wait to see what happens. wcarter41 in louisiana

sean & jonnA enck August 8, 2010 at 11:51 am

My husband and I have grown an 11 foot okra plant. We have 24 plants in all, ranging in height from 7 1/2 to 11 feet tall.

tommy holt August 28, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I have a picture of mine were is yours my pic is on facebook 9 feet tall and still growing!

Sue September 28, 2010 at 9:49 am

We have three rows of really tall okra – have not measured but we have to bend it to cut. Saving seeds – would love to add pictures to this message not sure how I would as I do seen a method to do so. We are saving seeds from the best pods as we love this larger pod okra. Less slime, larger slices for frying or breading plus we also steam, boil and add to soups. Light green with great taste.

Rudra September 29, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I live in Marietta GA and have lots of Okra on my back yard. from the same seeds smallest one is about 2 feet tall that is producing some fruits at the same time tallest one is above 9 feet with lots of branches and broud leaves. I need to take my tape mesure and get the mesurement for these trees. They are still growing and producing whole bunch of okra every day. I am leaving lots of grown pods on the tree for produce some seeds. I have some seeds ready if any one wants to buy it. I can sell it as a whole dry okra piece. $10.00 for each dry okra pod.
If you are interested please send me an email and let me know. I will send you a tree picuture before i send you okra seed. I have never seen this tall okra before but now i own them on my very back yard. Not only the okra i have 8 foot tall tomatoes tree as well. Tomatoes are about to die now cause i didn’t have 10 feet pole to support the tree for long lasting. Good thing okra does not need supporting pole.

thanks for reading

vaughn howard October 2, 2010 at 9:54 am

I too have a okra plant around 8 1/2 feet tall in carthage texas. It is still growing as well and is the first we ever grew. It is the only one we grew. It measure approx 16 feet in diameter and stalk is about 8 to 10 inches as well. well good luck on your plants.

Randy E. Hargraves October 24, 2010 at 1:06 am

I grew up in north central Oklahoma. My Dad always had okra plants 10 to 12 foot tall.
He always used his own seed year after year. Then one year the bugs and the mice consumed all his okra seed. He acquired other okra seed, a variety of times after that but, it was nothing like his old okra plants, at least in height. Year after year my Dad missed his old okra plants. Okra just wasn’t the same any more.
I work for the City of Oklahoma City as a Plumbing Inspector. The territory that I inspect consists of (for the most part) the North East side of Oklahoma City. My total territory which includes a part of the NW side of Oklahoma City is 144 Square miles. Last year (2009) I came across an okra patch that had Okra Plants reaching 20 to 22 foot high.
I called my Dad and told him about my discovery, and he said, “Get the Seed!” Now that Okra Patch I found was moved to another area and it just isn’t as tall as it was last year. Furthermore, it might be that it just wasn’t as tall as I thought it was.
But, last week, (Oct. 13, 2010) I measured the tallest plant and it was only 11 Foot and One Inch. I was very disappointed. Regardless It is still tall and the tallest I have seen outside my dad’s old Okra. Supposedly, it was from the same seed. If it is or not, I don’t know, but, one thing for sure, the okra I saw in that okra patch last year, was definitely taller than my Dad’s old okra.
I have some seed from this year’s crop and hope to get more.
Dad and I are looking forward to growing it. I really like the tall okra. If any one has seed for tall okra please contact me.
randyhargraves@att.net
Or call 1-405-354-0033
Please, no messages
Call untill you get me.
When you are five foot two & 17/32nds, you tend to have an appreciation for height.
So, here is to Tall, Fertile Gardens and Happy, Prosperous Gardeners.
Well, it is getting late.
I have gotta Rockett.
I’ll Catchya on the next orbit.

bryan November 2, 2010 at 8:39 am

I live in South Houston (Near NASA). I grew okra this year in one of my raised beds and was amazed with how easy they are to grow and how productive they are. Every seed germinated and they were one of the only vegetables that thrived in our intense summer heat. I found that they grow best and are most productive in extreme heat. And now that the temperature has started to drop they are not producing as well. One of my plants is 12 feet tall and most are over 9 feet tall. They are completely disease and pest free and are the easiest vegetable to grow. I will definitely be growing them again.

Sunnysak July 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Yes, I do grow long monstrous Okra in my back-yard and I am not sure what is the reason they are growing so big. this is the 3rd year ( plant is still growing..) here are some links to the picrures of the okras. The plant itself reached about 14 ft. last year.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/e6663248215996
http://www.imagebam.com/image/e6f38048215997
http://www.imagebam.com/image/6f1d8548215999

Not sure mine is a record. just thought I’ll share. if someone wants to talk about this.. please free feel to send me an email sunnysak at lycos
com
thanks

Gwenevere N. Pace August 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I have grown okra the height referenced in many of the posts above over the past several years. My brother accused me of over fertilizing…I told him I am a pretty good gardner and assured him I did not and do not (he was out done at the height and the production of the okra). I usually, do not have to plant okra from year to year…just shell out some of the dry seeds in pavers along my patio, or leave some okra at the end of the season to dry and pop open and seed where they want. The next summer let them grow where they are or move them to where you want them once they get up a few inches…I have more okra than I know what to do with this year (2011) from the self-reseeding that my okra and the grandkids did the previous year. Okra in my backyard does not require any fertilization just water and I am getting a bumper crop…I do occassionally scoop my dishwater out in a pail and put it on my tomatoes and okra…loosen the soil around tomatoes ever once in a while and they grow, grow, grow…mind you I have 4 small grandkids and there are traces of milk, juice, crumbs, vegetables juices and particles that get in the water even after the cups and dishes are scraped out…so dishwater fertilizer I suppose.

chandra shekar rao September 5, 2011 at 6:13 am

Pl send the gaint okra seeds to following address
Chandra shekar rao
Room No 1022 / 2
Near yelhanka new town busstand
behind LEVIS showroom
Yelhanka new town
Bangalore
650065

HR October 2, 2011 at 10:38 am

I planted 2 very tiny okra plants in April…I didn’t think they would to anyhting. They are over 8 feet tall & I harvest the small pods each day. When they get real big, they are tough & woody. And…they are multiplying. What ‘s the name for this okra?

The heat has been so intense here this summer… Savannah, GA. & they have survived & are still producing each day.

When the season is done, I will dry out some pods & use next year.

Any other suggestions?

Kenny Point October 2, 2011 at 11:25 am

There are so many different varieties of okra that fit your description… I really couldn’t guess which one you are growing. Only suggestion is to harvest the pods when they are smaller and before they get woody if you plan to use them in the kitchen, if you want them for seed let them get larger and dry out before you pick them.

Matt October 9, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I planted red heirloom okra this summer from seed and they reached ~4-5 feet. There was a stowaway in the seed pack and a green tree grew. This green okra is 10 feet tall, easy. Like you I pick the pods everyday. I still have the trees and they are still producing. I have a feeling they will die in the winter but, until then I keep picking and pickling these suckers. The red okra gets harder faster so do not let them get too big. I did let some pods grow all the way so I would have seeds for next year. I love my okra trees!

Hanume Gowda December 21, 2011 at 4:28 am

I am highly interested in tall okra plant, I need okra seeds of those tall plants, Please send to following address

Hanumegowda
Koligere At Post
Doddaballapur Taluk
Bangalore Rural-561204

FM August 1, 2012 at 1:20 pm

what is the quality of the edible portion of these giant okra? Are they woody, like young green banches? I wonder if the post-1970′s generation know how to check fresh-grown okra for tenderness. Okra, deep-fried in oil to make the woody portion more crunchy, is really the only way I can somewhat enjoy the vegetable. Check with your early post-WWII ardeners. I would love to know how many of us remember the “good ol’ days.”

HR August 31, 2012 at 7:57 am

The giant okra seeds that I got from my giant okra plants did NOT do anything. I soaked them, did nothing to them wahtevere…none of them took hold. I was told that the plants must have been a hybrid.

Anyone have any thoughts or ideas about this??

Thanks!!

Kenny Point September 1, 2012 at 7:41 am

HR, it is difficult to guess what the problem with your seed was. Were the pods fully mature and dried out when you harvested them? Even if varieties had crossed in your garden the seeds still should have germinated.

HR September 6, 2012 at 8:14 am

Yes…they were mature & dried out.l I had hundreds of them. Nothing I did worked. Other than doing nothing to them, I tried soaking some of them in water over night…tried soaking them in bleach…on advfice of others.

No germination…..

Sue September 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

When you planted them was the soil temp at least 70 degrees? If not sometimes okra seed will rot – if soil is too cool and there is a lot of moisture.

HR September 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm

There was definitely not a lot of moisture…not so sure about the degrees of the soil….but this is south Georgia so I feel that it was. I also tried planing at different time. I also gave tghe seeds away to some people & they did not have a they did’t have any luck either.

I have other okra plants that are growing now…red clemson…

Miss my big plants.

Sue September 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I agree HR – should not be problem with warm soil. I have several pods drying at this time and would be happy to share with you for next year’s planting.

HR September 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Many thanks…that is so nice of you…but I will stick with the red clemson….

BTW…I even tried growing some in peat pots….still no luck.

Wayne Kelley September 10, 2013 at 7:56 am

And I thought my 4 okra plants that are 10 feet plus tall were big! I have pictures which I will submit. I have never seen nor heard of an okra plant getting this tall. And I have harvested tons of okra this year and all of it good. The dirt I have planted the okra I have worked for almost 20 years using lots of Black Kow manure and compost mix from Southern States Coop.

J P Landry November 2, 2013 at 11:37 am

I started some in pots before setting them into the ground. There are 3 plants, one that has reached 9 feet 3 inches. The rest are on their way up as well. Of course, this is Brusly weather. The days here are warm enough to produce 50 in a week – from all 3 plants totalled. They were started in pot with compost, and then as they grew out in root-bound, I planted them 1 at a time. I had 25 to 30 flowers going at once. The old farmer’s tales are illogical to my plants. 2 had branches before leaving the pot. Now they have undergrowth and flower abundancy. These were planted in May.

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