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How to Plant Okra at Home

Okra is a hardy, sunlight-loving plant that's easy to grow.

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Photography: ANDI WHISKEY | UNSPLASH (main)

Okra is a plant that loves warm weather, which makes a perfect addition to your garden especially during the dry months. While okra isn’t every one’s favorite vegetable due to its slimy texture, it contains a lot of vitamin C, K, C, and B6, as well as magnesium and folate. It also contains lots of antioxidants and zero fat, which is why it’s recommended for those who have hypertension and other heart conditions.

Where to get seeds

The easiest way to get seeds is from the okra itself, as the pod dries from the vine, but you can also get seeds from supermarkets, which often display packets of them in standees.

How to plant okra

Sunlight and warmth are key factors in growing okra, which is why summer is the best time to plant them. While these can be easily planted in containers, it’s important that they remain outdoors.

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1. If you can’t plant directly in the ground, a pot with drainage holes that’s around two gallons deep is good for one okra plant. Simply bury the seed around an inch-and-a-half into the soil, and soak it with water.

Make sure your mix of soil enables water to drain from it quickly. Loam soil that’s rich in organic compost and contains a good mix of sand and silt are best for okra, as not only is it nutritious for the plant, but it also allows for ample air and water flow.  

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2. Given the right conditions, your seed will germinate sometime between three to five days. At this point, it’s important that the seedling is given enough sunlight to encourage growth. Unless you have organic compost, do not apply fertilizer for the time being, and allow it to naturally sprout.

3. In around two to three weeks your plant will grow its permanent leaves, and will be around five to six inches tall. If you want to transfer it to another pot or to its permanent container, now is the time to do it. At this stage, you can also start putting fertilizer in your okra’s soil. Simply put it around the plant and carefully mix it with the soil. If you don’t have any available organic fertilizer, nitrogen fertilizers such as urea can be used. (Do note that urea should be placed in minimal quantities around your plant and should not touch its stalk to avoid over-fertilizing.)

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4. After a month-and-a-half to two months, you’ll have a fully-grown, flowering okra.

Here’s a step-by-step guide by Late Grower that you can follow:

Watering your okra

While you need to water your okra a lot during germination, a fully-grown plant can withstand hot weather with little water—that being said, it’s still important to water your okra two to three times a week. Make sure that its soil is completely dry before doing so, as soil that’s moist for too long can cause its roots to rot. You often don’t need to water your okra during the rainy season, but do make sure that the soil you planted it in drains well.

Pests in your okra

Your okra is a hardy plant, but you’ll still need to help it a bit especially when it comes to pests. The Bureau of Plant Industry lists three of the most common okra pests:

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Leafhoppers – These suck on leaves and dry them out. Remedy this by making sure that your plant is watered twice a week. Organic fertilizer can also help boost your plant’s immunity.

Cotton strainers – Bury insects and its eggs into soil, and water your plant from above to avoid their propagation.

Leaf folder – Remove larvae infected leaves and place them in a sealed plastic bags to expose under the sun.

Harvesting your okra

A fully grown pod becomes woody. Seeds found in these are perfect if you want to plant a new batch of okra. An immature okra, which is still green, is what is used as food, so you’ll need to harvest them once they reach three to four inches.

If you want your okra to routinely bear pods, it’s best to continuously harvest immature pods that are ready for consumption. Leaving mature pods on the plant will reduce flowering.

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Source: Bureau of Plant Industry

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