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Okra Seed Starting Tips

Okra pods near harvest 1
Okra seedlings
Okra seedlings

Okra is a tender, warm-weather crop. Plant okra after all danger of frost has passed. Okra requires midsummer warmth and almost tropical heat for best growth.

If you sow okra seed outdoors directly in the garden, the soil temperature should be at least 75°F (24°C).

Okra matures in 55 to 65 days after planting.

Okra Sowing and Planting Tips

  • Grow okra from seeds or seedlings.
  • Okra seeds are viable for 2 years.
  • Okra is commonly started indoors in a greenhouse or warm, well-lit sunroom or kitchen.
  • Sow okra in individual pots of light potting mix 6 to 4 weeks before you intend to set plants out.
  • Do not set okra outdoors until the nighttime temperature is consistently greater than 60°F (15°C)—even then you may want to protect plants from temperatures below 65°F (18°C).
  • Sow 3 to 4 seeds to a pot or across flats; then clip away the weaker seedlings once the strongest seedling is about 2 inches (5 cm) tall.
  • Sow seed ½ inch (13 mm) deep.
  • The optimum soil temperature for germinating seed is 85°F (29°C).
  • Keep the seed starting mix just moist until seeds germinate.
  • Okra seed can be sown directly in the garden if the soil temperature is warm enough—and there are enough days in the season for plants to reach maturity. The optimal growing soil temperature is 85°F (29°C).
  • Germination takes 7 to 12 days at 85°F (29°C) or warmer.
  • Seedlings started indoors should be kept under a grow light or in a sunny window after germination. Keep the indoor nighttime temperature above 65°F (18°C).
  • Water to keep the seed starting mix from drying.
  • Fertilize with fish emulsion or a soluble complete fertilizer at half strength.
  • Transfer seedlings to a larger container once they are 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) tall; be sure that seedlings have sufficient room for root growth. This process is called “potting up”; continue to pot up seedlings as they outgrow containers—until they are transplanted into the garden or a very large container.
  • Transplant okra to the garden after seedlings are at least 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) tall.
  • Set plants 24 inches (60 cm) apart in rows at least 24 inches apart.
  • Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of transplanting.
  • Okra prefers a soil pH range of 6.0 to 6.8.
  • Grow okra in full sun for best yield.
  • Fertilize with an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion at half strength.
  • Protect plants from cold weather under lightweight spun poly row covers supported by wire hoops. Cold nights will cause blossoms to drop producing bushy plants without pods.
  • Common okra pest enemies include aphids, corn earworms, and flea beetles.

More tips at How to Grow Okra.

Interplanting: Plant okra with basil, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, and peppers.

Container Growing: Choose a 15-gallon container for growing okra.

Okra Planting Calendar

  • 6-4 weeks before the last frost in spring: start seed indoors.
  • Transplant seedlings to the garden when night time temperature is consistently greater than 65°
  • Sow seed directly in the garden when the minimum soil temperature is 75°.
Okra plant
Okra is a tender, warm-weather crop – plant okra after all danger of frost has passed. Okra requires midsummer warmth and almost tropical heat for best growth.
  • ‘Blondie’ and ‘Clemson Spineless’ are top performers.
  • ‘Cajun Delight’ is a short-season variety for cool regions.
  • ‘Baby Bubba’ is a dwarf variety for small spaces.

Botanical Name: Abelmoschus esculentus

Okra is a member of the Malvaceae or mallow family; other members of this family are cacao and cotton.


Comments are closed.
  1. Okra seedlings are dying. Starting from seeds, they reach 3 to 4 inches then lean down & die. Indoor temp is 72 degrees. Do I need more heat?

    • The okra may have been attacked by the fungal disease damping off. See this link How to Avoid Damping-Off
      A consistent temperature of 72F should be warm enough, though okra can take warmer temperatures.
      Be sure there is air circulating around the seedlings and they are not crowded.

  2. Hello, thank you for this informative page. The first true leaves of my Clemson spineless okra seedlings are coming out white rather than green. I’m just wondering if this is normal.

    • The leaves may be whitish or light green at first, but they should very quickly become deeper green as the plant matures. If the leaves remain white be sure the seedling is getting plenty 8 hours of light each day, and be careful to not overwater.

  3. Thank you for sharing and it’s explain a lot why I plant seeds outdoor beginning of May but didn’t come anything until mid of June in Winnipeg. Temperature is the biggest problem.

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