Name: okra, lady fingers, bhindi, gumbo (Abelmoschus esculentus).
Plant type: annual.
Climate: grows best in tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate climates, but can also be grown in arid/semi-arid and cold climates over summer, when all likelihood of frost has passed.
Soil: prefers a deep, well-drained soil enriched with organic matter such as compost and well-aged manure.
Position: full sun, protected from strong winds.
Flowering and fruiting: hibiscus-like cream-coloured flowers with a magenta throat are produced 12–14 weeks from sowing, quickly followed by long, slender, edible pods, which should be harvested at around 7–8cm long.
Feeding: additional fertiliser is usually not required in enriched soils, but an application of dynamic lifter or blood and bone can boost plants during the growing season.
Watering: drought tolerant, although regular watering is required for maximum fruit production.
Okra is an ornamental edible with large-lobed foliage that rounds as it ages, like all other members of the Malvaceae or mallow family. The large foliage has a lush appearance, bringing a tropical look to the summer garden.
Hibiscus-like cream-coloured flowers with a magenta throat are produced 12–14 weeks from sowing, quickly followed by long, slender edible pods with large ridges, which should be harvested at around 7–8cm long. A cut and come again crop, the more you harvest, the more you will produce.
Okra pods have traditionally been used as a thickener for stews, however their tolerance to hot weather means they are also growing in popularity as a vegetable crop and side dish. The flowers are also edible, and make a lovely accompaniment to summer salads and drinks.
Okra is a summer or dry-season crop. Sow in spring in cool and warm climates, and during the dry season in humid areas.
Take care when harvesting pods, as they are easily bruised and damaged. Harvest and use within three days, otherwise blanch and freeze to preserve for around three months. Pick daily to extend your harvest.
Although okra is drought tolerant, the plants are lusher and produce a better yield with regular water. Improve soil prior to planting, and top-dress with a mulch of compost or application of dynamic lifter throughout the growing season.
Okra is susceptible to the same soil-borne pests and diseases as tomatoes. It is important to practise crop rotation (do not grow in the same spot for 3–4 years) to avoid nematodes and verticillium wilt.
Fungal problems can occur in areas with high humidity, or when plants are too close together. Space plants out to allow adequate airflow, and avoid growing crops during the wet season.
Tomatoes: loves the same growing conditions as okra, and is a star of the summer harvest.
Chilli: loves hot weather – in fact, the hotter the better for the heat of your chillies.
Squash: a wonderful fruiting vegie that is available in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes.
Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.