Abelmoschus esculentus

'Clemson Spineless'
Common Name: okra
Type: Annual
Family: Malvaceae
Native Range: Old World Tropics
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Yellow with purple center
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Vegetable
Flower: Showy

Culture

Annual that is easily grown in moist, moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun. Best flowering is in full sun. Thrives in hot summer climates. Seeds are sensitive to cold temperatures and should not be planted outside until soil temperatures have risen to 60 degree F. and night temperatures no longer dip below 55 degrees F. As an alternative, seed may be started indoors about 1-2 weeks prior to last frost date with seedling planted outside as soon as soils warm. Harvest the pods when they reach 3" long. First harvest of okra will occur about 55 days after seeds sprout. Seed may be harvested from garden plants for planting the following year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Abelmoschus esculentus, commonly called okra, is native to tropical Africa and Asia. It is an annual that typically grows 3-5' tall. It is grown for harvest of its edible fruit/seed pods which are perhaps best noted as the signature ingredient in gumbo. Species plants feature hibiscus-like yellow flowers (to 2-3” wide) with purplish centers. Cultivars expand the available flower colors to include attractive shades of pink, orange-red and red often with white centers. Flowers last only for one day, but plants bloom freely throughout the growing season to frost. Flowers give way to fruit capsules which have a musky aroma, hence the common name. Hairy, dark green leaves are deeply cut into 3-7 lobes.

Genus name is believed to come from the Arabic abu-l-mosk in reference to the smell of the seeds.

Specific epithet means good to eat or edible.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Aphids. Corn earworm. Watch for spider mites, slugs and whiteflies. Root rot may occur in poorly drained soils. Susceptible to powdery mildew. Some people develop skin rashes when working with this plant (wear gloves to avoid contact with stems and leaves).

Garden Uses

Beds, border fronts, pots, containers.