How to plant okra

Abelmoschus esculentus

Okra, also known as gombô, is a perennial plant of uncertain origin (South Asia, Ethiopia or West Africa) but which is normally grown as an annual. Usually it reaches one to two meters high, and its immature fruits, which are capsules containing large round seeds are eaten boiled or fried.

These pods, when chopped and heated, release a viscous mucilaginous substance often known as okra drool, which some people appreciate and others do not. To decrease the amount of mucilage, the whole pods can be fried quickly, or they can be cooked with the addition of acidic ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar or tomatoes. Its addition to soups and broths acts as a natural thickener for these dishes.

The leaves and chalices of the flowers are also edible and are usually eaten cooked. Some cultivated varieties that have glabrous (hairless) leaves can also be eaten raw. The seeds obtained from ripe fruits can be consumed cooked in soups and other dishes. They can also be used for oil extraction, and toast and ground can be used as a caffeine-free substitute for coffee.


Okra is grown mainly in tropical regions, growing well only at temperatures above 20 ° C. In regions subject to lower temperatures, okra can be grown in agricultural greenhouses.


The plant needs good light, with at least a few hours a day of direct sunlight.


Grow okra in fertile soil, well drained and rich in organic matter. The ideal soil pH is between 6.0 to 6.5.


Irrigate in order to keep the soil always moist, without being soaked. Adult plants are relatively tolerant of short periods of drought.


Leave the seeds in a container of water for a day to speed up germination, which then occurs in approximately one week. Directly sown seeds can take more than three weeks to germinate.

Planting can be done directly at the final location or the seeds can be sown in small pots, plastic cups or sachets, and transplanted when they reach 10 to 15 cm in height.


Some horticulturists perform pruning to promote branching or to invigorate okra. Other gardeners do not prune at all.

Depending on the cultivar and the environmental conditions, the okra can exceed 2 meters in height.


The harvest of okra usually starts between 60 to 80 days after planting, and can continue for a few months in good growing conditions.

Okra should be harvested when it is well developed, but still tender, with a bright hue, which usually occurs 6 or 7 days after pollination and the beginning of fruit formation. Ripe, okra can become fibrous.

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