Okra questions

ashita(10a)July 29, 2014


I am growing okra for the first time this year, and am not sure what to expect. Right now they are about 18 inches tall, rather sparsely leaved, and each plant is producing about 2 okra a week. I read that they can reach over four feet high. My question is, do they fruit in the same place/node again, or do they fruit higher up the stalk each time? They seem to be just one stem -- do they branch?

Thanks from a newbie okra grower.

Another question. I just bought a packet of seeds in the local supermarket here in Tokyo. (It might surprise you, but okra and also Molokheya are really popular in Japan. ) Japanese okra are not quite like the ones I was used to in the UK. They are long, very light and a bit papery. When you cut them they are hollow almost. The first ones off my plants are like that, too. So next year I want to try a different variety. I am looking for softer and meatier somehow, like the okra I bought in Caribbean and Indian markets in London. Can anyone advise me on a good variety?


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I am in the south us and the most common variety is clemson spinless. The center is filled with seeds. I have no idea what would grow well in Japan. Usually my okra would be over six feet high but this year some are still only a foot and others are four feet tall. This year all of mine are single branch like you describe, but I have occasionally seen at least one branch. And yes, each plant usually produces just two to four per week I think.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 7:24AM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I grow okra here in the North - Canada. Like Chas stated above, the one most commonly grown here is Clemson spineless. My plants are also usually one stem and not more than about 18 inches high. Last year I tried a new variety - Burgundy - which produces very tall plants (3-4 feet) and very large fruit. They are burgundy but turn green when cooked. I got the seeds from T&M, don't know if they're available to you. I have also tried Cajun - smaller plant, smaller fruit but don't remember where I got the seed.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 7:35AM
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It will grow further up on the stem amd most varieties branch into a shrub form especially if topped. It does like hot humid weather, so I am not sure how it would perform in the Tokyo area. I would expect it to do well in Kyushu or Okinawa. It can be grown in cool climates but smaller plants and less yield. Lady finger is a Japanese variety and there are numerous Chinese varieties that may be available to you. Sakata is a Japanese seed developer with a large presence in North America, thier top okra is sold as Jambalya in the USA. Takii is also a major player in North America but I don't know if they produce okra seeds.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 8:01AM
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Thanks everyone, now I know what to expect. They look sort of spindly, but maybe that's right! Do they fruit again in the same place, or one node further up?

Tokyo is HOT and HUMID!!!!! Today is about 95F and 80% humidity and will remain so for nearly the next two months !!

I'm going to buy online, and don't really want Japanese varieties. northener on -- did the cajun taste good?

farmerdill -- at what point should I top them?

chas045 -- do the clemson spineless taste good?

As I have only three plants, I am obviously not going to get a big harvest this year!! A couple of weeks ago I planted some more seed -- amazingly they were up in three days! They really do seem to like hot weather! it's probably too late to expect any fruit :-(

The Japanese love slimy food! They have a special word for it -- nebari.

Thanks everyone for the input!


    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 9:02AM
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Let me also suggest "Emerald". I tried it last year and loved it. The pods can get very big and long and don't get tough and woody. I had tried Clemson before, but what I didn't like about it was that if you didn't pick the pods when they were small. they would become very tough, and inedible.
I had 6 "Emerald" plants last year, and had more than enough okra for our family.
By the end of the season, my plants were huge, about 6-7 feet tall, and almost looked like they were small trees, because the main trunk had become so thick!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 10:39AM
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I am surprised that okra is 18 inches at this point in Tokyo, which is a warmer locale than, say, Atlanta, and probably closer to Gulf of Mexico weather. Here in Michigan daily highs are in the 70s, often overcast/rainy, yet my okra is also 18 inches with a couple of buds.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:46AM
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Where are they planted? Outside or in containers? Okra can be dwarfed if the container it's growing in is too small. It is quite intolerant of growing in restricted spaces (more so than other garden vegetables). Are they in full sun?
I've heard that Cowhorn is a productive variety in hot climates.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:54AM
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There are lots of varieties available in North America, whether they are available in Japan is the question. Emerald is also the best variety for me but any velvet okra is fairly good. Clemson is productive, but gets tough way too quick. I top at 4- 5 ft. I want a big plant but I am not going to use a stepladder to pick it in September.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 12:47PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

ashita, I don't know the restrictions on shipping seed to Japan but I am sure that plenty of us would be glad to give it a try.

I don't think anyone would get fined or thrown in jail! :) They just might end up in the trash somewhere?

Edit: OOPS I misread farmer dills response! I though he said that it doesn't like heat and humidity! Sorry Farmer!

This post was edited by wertach on Tue, Jul 29, 14 at 14:13

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 2:10PM
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annew21 (zone 7b NC)(7b NC)

To answer your question, no they do not fruit in the same place twice. They fruit higher and higher as the plant gets taller. I live in the southern US, and I've had to use a ladder to harvest near the end of the season! (I wish I'd thought to top them - could have saved myself some trouble.)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 10:46PM
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Here in SoCal my okra plants are going crazy due to the hot and humid weather these days.To answer your question, they do branch and the flower/producing tips can go very high (See okra plant examples in video link).

Here is a link that might be useful: Okra growing tips

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 9:30AM
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I never considered toping my okra but it sounds like a good idea. I did try some odd variety that was supposed to be soft when pods got big, but I didn't find that to be true. They grew to eight feet tall, but I was able to bend the stalk over and still pick from high up.

I'm sorry, I only really know clemson spinless. That is what I grow and what is always in the stores and the farmer's markets too. They taste like okra ;-]. I didn't realize that Japan was hot and humid. Thats what we have here and okra loves it that way.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 9:57AM
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Wow, thanks everyone for the wonderful responses.

ccabal -- thanks for the info on Emerald. It sounds like a good one to try.

glib and slimy okra (love your name) -- it's probably because they are in containers, and don't get quite enough sun. You would laugh at me if you could see. I have a pot of bush tomatoes and a pot of green peppers on wheels, and on days when I am home, I chase the sun with them. My tiny garden is shaded by a japanese plum tree and a Yuzu tree. The container is a very long and deep earthbox type kind, and the potting mix is the same as Mel Bartholomew's Square foot gardening. I did notice that the level of the earth has gone down a couple of inches since I planted them. There are three plants a foot apart.

farmer dill -- I will try Emerald, and if the plants do grow taller, I will top at four feet. Thanks.

wertach -- thank you so much for the offer. it is easy to buy on the internet and Japan lets seeds through with no problem, it seems. I found a site from the US called Seeds of India, which has several interesting okra varieties. i will probably try some from there, too. It would be fun to find a real heirloom African one!

annew21 -- that's exactly what I needed to know. Thank you.

djkj -- most useful video, thank you so much. I was very reassured as that is just what my plants look like. I had thought they were spindly and unhealthy, but I guess that's how they are. I have to say I haven't fertilised every three weeks, though. Whoops. Would a tomato fertiliser do?

chas045 -- yes, here in Tokyo we swelter in the heat and humidity from early July to roughly the end of September. The high temperatures continue till mid or late October, and I have hardly ever had a frost. So my climate sounds perfect for okra - just have to be careful about some of the other things!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 11:27AM
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Good luck with your Okra growing. Burgundy is another variety to try with a lovely red color. I have been growing it in containers in the hot and humid weather of Florida and it has produced more and more quickly than Clemson Spineless.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 12:26PM
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>>djkj -- most useful video, thank you so much. I was very reassured as that is just what my plants look like. I had thought they were spindly and unhealthy, but I guess that's how they are. I have to say I haven't fertilised every three weeks, though. Whoops. Would a tomato fertiliser do?

Yes a tomato fertilizer does just fine. It will give the okra the nutrients it needs and will also help with the blooms!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 12:41PM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

ditto on farmerdill's comments. My experience with Clemson is the same. I too prefer Emerald.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 6:11PM
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