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Okra Growing

How to Grow and Harvest Okra

Okra is thought to have first been cultivated as far back as the 12th century in now Ethiopia and surrounding areas.  It is from member of the same botanical family as cotton and hibiscus and is grown for its young, nutritious green seed pods.  Also known as Lady Fingers or Bhindi (Indian)

There are various types and sub types of okra for the South African home gardener. 

The following options are available

  • Spineless Smooth, slightly larger and sweeter
  • Red/burgundy Interesting colour variation grown for ornamental value but also fine cooked
  • Green highly nutritious traditional variety, most readily available


Soil Preparation and feeding for Okra

Although relatively low maintenance, okra requires fertile, well drained soil to thrive and produce consistent good quality healthy seed pods.  Okra plants have tap roots extending to about 50cm deep with several lateral roots so prepare soil to about 60cm working in a healthy amount of well rotted compost...

Okra does not require support as it is an upright woody stemmed plant.


Planting times for cucumbers in South Africa

Spineless:                                Oct - Feb

Red/Burgundy:                                    Oct - Feb

Green                                      Oct - Feb

Please note:  Planting times supplied are in a general South African sense and are based on typical South African Highveld conditions. Your particular area of South Africa might vary, for instance if you live in Tzaneen you have summer all year long and can grow summer crops January to December!


Sun exposure:

Full sun


Seed Planting and Germination

Sow seeds in pots or direct and transplant after 4-6 weeks before.  Seeds should soaked overnight and planted 2cm deep. Okra seed does not work well in seed trays due to the quick forming root structure.

Okra seeds germinate at between 12 and 29 degrees Celsius.  At lower temperatures germination will be poor and delayed.

Okra seed germination takes approximately   to 21 days.


Okra Plant Spacing

Spineless:                    35 - 45cm       

Red/Burgundy:                        30 - 45cm       

Green                          30 - 45cm       


Harvest Okra

Harvest pods very young, within 5 days after flowers appeared.


Click to view which Okra Seeds are available to you now