How to Grow Okra Successfully this Summer

Okra growing in the summer

Famously known for gumbo and being fried, okra is the mild and tender legume we cannot get enough of this year. Typically grown in the Deep South, okra can actually be grown almost anywhere in the continental United States if the timing is right.

Read on to discover everything you need to know to grow okra successfully. Soon, you’ll be frying it up (or charring it) regularly.

Weather Needs

Okra needs full sun and warm weather (it thrives in the Deep South for a reason). So no matter what, plant well after the last frost when the ground and air have warmed up. Okra requires full sun, at least six to eight hours per day and warm temperatures. Okra thrives when temperatures get above 85 degrees, and continue to flourish with temperatures 90 degrees or higher. Even with temperatures edge near 100 degrees your okra will continue to thrive.

Choose your sunniest spot to plant. Best case? Plant in a container garden and follow the sun! Ideally, nights should be at least 60° F and the days should be 85° or warmer. If it gets chilly at night where you are, wheel your okra inside.

soil primer to grow successfully in the summer

Soil Needs

Okra thrives in soil with a neutral pH — between 6.5 and 7.0. It benefits especially from compost and rich organic matter, which you can mix into the soil before planting. Feed your okra plants regularly throughout the season. You can find fertilizer at your local garden store or rely on a Gardenuity container garden kit, which comes with specially curated soil and nutrients for your plant.

Water Needs

Okra is known for being able to withstand drought, but for best results, water your plants at least an inch a week. Okra comes from West Africa and will perform best when soil is not over watered. Regular watering is critical during flowering and pod development. A weekly deep soaking is always a good idea during extended dry spells.

Harvesting Okra after Grow

When to Harvest

The early growth of okra is slow, but quickly picks up speed. The warmer the weather, the faster the growth. As they grow, your plants will gain height and the bigger leaves. Eventually, they’ll start to produce yellow blossoms followed by tender pods. Usually, the pods appear about 50-60 days after planting.

Once you see these pods, check your plants regularly. They will grow very quickly and can appear and mature within 2 or 3 days. When the pods are 2-4 inches long, harvest! They’ll get tough and stringy otherwise.

How to Harvest

Cut the pods off with pruning shears, leaving a short stub of stem attached. You may want to wear gloves — okra has stiff leaf hairs that can be uncomfortable to the touch!

PRO TIP: Remove pods that are too big to eat regardless, because they’ll take up the plant’s energy stores and exhaust the plant.

After you harvest your Okra try this recipe! It’s absolutely delicious!

Okra is truly a delight to grow — it looks beautiful (like mini trees!) and tastes delicious. Gardenuity is working with our farm partners and has limited okra collections available. If you are interested, email growpro@gardenuity.com and we will match you to the right farm partner for your summer okra garden. Each Okra garden ships with two okra plants and two herbs plants.