Vegetable Overview: Okra


Discover how to grow Okra with instructions on starting seed, transplanting, site selection, care and maintenance, water and fertilization requirements, pests and disease, and harvesting and storage.

Okra Stats at a Glance

Soil Type: Well-drained
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Soil pH: 5.8-6.8

Planting Instructions

Can I Start Okra from Seed?

Though you can start okra seeds indoors, they do not transplant well.  The best choice is to sow the seeds directly into the garden a few weeks after the last frost.


To start indoors, fill individual peat pots with a fertile commercial soil starter and moisten.  Sprinkle the seeds on the surface of the soil. Press them lightly into the soil to ensure contact with growing medium. Place in a room with a constant temperature of 70-75°F.  Cover with clear plastic wrap to maintain the soil moisture and temperature.  Keep the soil moist.  When seedlings appear, remove the plastic wrap and move to a sunny location.


When to Start Seeds: >6-8 weeks prior to planting
Time to Germination: 7-17days
Optimal Temp. for Germination: 70-95°F


When Do I Plant Okra?

Okra is cold sensitive and should not be planted until after the last frost and the soil has reached at least 65°F.  They will germinate much more quickly in warmer soil.  You can hasten the warming of the soil with black plastic mulch.

Soil Temperature: 65°F


Where Do I Plant Okra?

Okra plants perform best in loamy, well-drained soil high in organic matter but will grow in nearly any good garden soil that receives full sun and is well-drained. Incorporating several inches of organic matter into the soil when preparing the bed will improve growth and development.

Soil Type: Well-drained
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Soil pH: 5.8-6.8


How Far Apart Do I Plant Okra?

Sow okra seeds 4-6” apart in rows 3 feet apart. When seedlings are 3” tall, thin the plants to allow 12” between plants.

Okra Plant Care and Maintenance

How Often Should I Water Okra?

The key to watering Okra is to maintain a consistent moisture level.  This is especially important during flower and fruit development. The soil should be moist to a depth of 6”.  Okra will tolerate moderate drought.

Water the soil around the plant. Overhead watering will encourage disease.  Drip irrigation is best.

Mulch around the plant will help to lock in moisture.


Should I Fertilize Okra?

Fertilizing decisions should be based on a soil test.  If a soil test cannot be obtained, Okra generally perform well with a 5-10-10 fertilizer worked into the soil prior to planting.  Two additional side dressings can be added, once when the plants are 6” tall and a second four weeks later.

Fertilize the soil around the plant at least 6” from the plant base. Irrigate into the soil.

Be aware that over fertilization of nitrogen will cause vegetation growth at the expense of the fruit.


Additional Care Instructions

Hand pull weeds that development in the garden as more aggressive cultivation could harm the plant roots.

At the end of the season, remove all spent plants from the garden to discourage mildew.

Okra Diseases

The most common diseases associated with this plant include root knot nematode, Southern stem blight, and wilt.

Okra Pests

The most common pests associated with this plant include aphids, cabbage looper, crickets, cutworms, earwigs, stink bugs, tobacco budworm, and whiteflies.

Harvesting and Storing Okra

When Do I Harvest Okra?

Okra reaches maturity about 60-70 days after planting.  Pods should be 2-3” long.


How Do I Store Okra?

Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to one week.

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