When one thinks of a Southern Garden, Okra and Blackeyed Peas come to mind. Okra is grown for its long, pointed seed pods, which are used in gumbos and soups. Okra is in the same family as cotton, hollyhocks and hibiscus. Its flowers resemble hibiscus and okra makes a nice ornamental plant as well.

Start your own plants from seed sown directly into the garden. Pre-soak seeds the night before planting, but you should get good germination if you keep the soil moist until the plants break through. Plant the large, green, round seeds about three quarters of an inch deep after the soil has warmed in mid spring. You can purchase your pants from a garden center but the soil still needs to have time to warm. Okra can be planted in rows twelve to eighteen inches apart and thinned to stand six inches apart in the row.

A Few Varieties

Annie Oakley - Nice Yield. Hybrid. 3-4'

Red Burgundy – Four foot tall plants with six to eight inch maroon pods, some of the color even extends into the plant’s leaves and stems.

Clemson Spineless - Good flavor. Heirloom. 4-5'

Silver Queen Okra – six foot plants produce tender pale whitish-green pods.

Star of David – This Israeli heirloom grows pods that have a very unique shape and strong flavor from okra plants reaching up to seven feet.

Alabama Red - A heirloom okra originating from the state of Alabama produces unusual fat red pods.

Cow Horn – This giant okra variety can grow eight feet tall but can become woody.

Louisiana Short – A prolific producer with plump six-inch pods.

Hill Country Heirloom Red – Texas heirloom with attractive reddish-green pods.

Burmese Okra – An early yielder, this heirloom from Burma will produce pods for the kitchen until fall frosts arrive.

Jade – Early maturing dark green okra pods on four foot tall plants.

Emerald – , unique smooth-round pods, that produce early. As okra pods get larger, they become stringy and tough so, pick while young and tender. It only takes maybe 6 days from the time Okra flowers until the pod appears and can be picked. For best yield, water well at least every 7-10 days. Okra can take dry spells.