Department of Horticulture New York State Horticulture Study Guide for Youth 4-H Logo


Flowers &
Indoor Plants

Fruits & Nuts



Special Topics



Cornell University

Abelmoschus esculentus
(ay-bell-mose-kus es-que-len-tus)

okra okra okra

What about it?

Okra is the common name for a vegetable nicknamed "gumbo" in the South. It is a member of the Mallow family. It has edible leaves high in vitamins A, and C, as well as protein, calcium, and iron. Okra flowers are yellow and similar to the flowers of its relative, the hibiscus.

What is it used for?

The pods of the okra plant are edible. They are also low in calories but rich in vitamin A.

Where does it grow? How do we grow it?

Okra is typically a hot weather plant but can be grown in cooler regions with great success. It only needs 50 . 60 days with temperatures between 65 and 90 degrees to produce its fruits. The trick is to be patient and wait until the weather is warm enough to plant. Also, plant in the full sun on the southern slope of your garden. Okra does not like either wet or acidic soils.

What are its primary problems?

Japanese beetles may be a problem as well as Fusarium and Verticillium wilt.

How do we propagate it?

Direct seed okra when temperatures are staying above 55 degrees F. The soil should be around 70 degrees. If your climate is too cold to provide a direct-seeding growing season for okra, start the plants indoors in peat pots.

How do we harvest and store it?

Harvest okra pods when they are still tender and immature. They should be about 2-3 inches long. This is usually a week or so after flowering. Do not refrigerate. Keep at a temperature of 50 degrees.

Previous Next

Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.