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Growing Okra in the home garden

The flower of an okra plant
The flower of an okra plant

Okra is typically associated with southern vegetable gardening but it can be grown in most parts of the United States. It requires temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees to come to the fruiting stage. You can plant okra seeds in the spring as soon as the ground warms and again in late summer for a fall crop. Okra can be harvested in 60 to 70 days.

The flower of the okra plant is a beautiful light yellow with green undertones and a burgundy center. It is in the Mallow or Malvaceae family of plants which include hibiscus, hollyhock and rose of sharon.

One especially beautiful okra plant is 'Red Velvet' which has red stems and red veins in the leaves with red pods. Most okra plants grow to be about five feet tall. There is a dwarf variety 'Little Lucy' that only grows to two feet in height.

When red pod okra is cooked it turns green which is unfortunate. It would be nice to see red okra served up in a pretty dish. Southern cooks are famous for frying okra but it can be put into soups or gumbo. Okra can be cooked in the microwave or braised on the stove top.