Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is a green, seed pod vegetable in the hibiscus family. As a native of Africa, it grows excellently in hot climates.
This plant bears flowers that show a lot of similarity to hibiscus flowers, which is not unexpected. Some varieties of okra have colorful stems and foliage, making them good ornamentals.
Nicknamed “lady’s fingers” because of the slender elegant shape of the pods, okra is a popular thickening ingredient for soups and stews.
Some people plant okra to use as garden borders (decorative purposes) while others plant them to eat. Novice gardeners will need to know how deep to plant okra seeds to raise strong plants.
By the end of this post, you would have learned how to plant okra at the correct depth and what to do to ensure a great okra crop.
When To Plant Okra
You should plant okra in the garden 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date, then cover the plants with a 2 to 3-foot high cold frame. Alternatively, grow them in a tunnel until the weather warms up to a point.
The frame should be high enough that the plants have room to grow. To plant okra seeds in a cold climate, you would have to wait until the soil temperature is between 65° and 75°.
Where summers are short, particularly in northern regions, start okra seed indoors in pots in full light 3 to a month before
the last spring frost.
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Recommended Varieties Of Okra
The best-suited varieties for growing in containers are the dwarf varieties because they hardly exceed the height of 1.5m.
Standard varieties can grow up to 8 feet and even higher.
‘Blondy’: This is a spineless 3-foot-tall dwarf. It has pale green pods measuring about 3 inches in length and is perfect for the northern climate.
‘Burgundy’: Abundant pods of 6 to 9 inches on plants 3 to 5 feet tall. The pods are edible, it is considered an ornamental plant with stem, branches, leaf veins, and deep red fruits.
‘Cajun Jewel’: 3 to 4 feet tall dwarf with tasty 8-inch pods up to an inch in diameter.
‘Clemson Spineless’: This is a tasty okra breed with six and half-inch to nine-inch pods on plants up to 4 feet tall.
‘Louisiana Green Velvet’: Spineless variety with vigorous growth reaching around 6 feet in height. It is good for large areas.
6 Steps To Plant Okra Seeds At The Correct Depth
We will be going right into how deep to plant okra seeds now. To ensure you’re growing healthy okra with lots of edible pods, follow these steps:
1. Prepare The Garden Soil
See to it that your okra seeds are provided with the recommended type of soil so that they will grow seamlessly. Select a spot that receives full sun and prepare your garden beds there.
To start with, fill the beds with at least 60 cm of well-drained soil. You can buy bags of topsoil or you can make your own from peat moss, coarse sand, garden soil, and compost.
The soil should be loamy and have alkaline or neutral pH of 5 to 7. Next, mix some fertilizer thoroughly into the top 6 inches of soil.
2. Select Your Okra Seeds
Select your okra seeds to get started. Each variety of okra has its growing and fruiting characteristics.
Clemson Spineless Okra is a popular choice due to its high yields and high-quality green pods, Blondy is good for cooler weather while Burgundy produces bright red okra that adds some colour to any meal.
You can plant just one variety or several, depending on your preferences.
3. Planting At The Right Time
Planting okra during the right season depends on local weather conditions. Plant your okra 3 weeks after the last frost to harvest in summer.
Sow your seeds 3 months before the first frost for fall harvest. Atmospheric temperatures should at least reach 15 °C (60 °F) first and okra prefers soil temperatures in the 75 to 90 °F (23 to 32 °C) range.
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4. Soak The Seeds Overnight
The night before planting, soak your okra seeds overnight. This will help them sprout faster.
Place the seeds in a dish filled with warm water and leave them in it to soften the seed coat before you plant them the next day. The tough coat must break down all the way to let the seedlings sprout.
More okra seeds will germinate if you soak them first.
5. Sow Your Okra Seeds
Plant your okra seeds directly in your garden beds. Create rows 90 cm apart and plant a seed every 5 cm (2 inches) along the rows.
How deep to plant okra seeds? Sow them 1/2 to 1 inch deep and cover the seeds with soil. After planting, water gently moistens the soil around the seeds.
6. Take Care Of Your Okra Seedlings
Expect your okra seedlings to sprout in a week or two. As soon as they do, narrow down the seedlings until you have an okra plant every 12 inches.
Keep your okra plants well-watered throughout the growing season. Okra plants reach full size approximately 2 months from planting day.
You can harvest ripe okra every 4 to 5 days once they mature.
Can You Plant Okra Seeds Too Deep?
Yes, it’s quite easy to plant okra seeds too deep. The standard planting depth is 1 to 2.5cm below the soil surface.
If you plant okra seeds deeper than 1 inch, your okra may not germinate because they do not receive sufficient heat to stimulate the process. If they do sprout, the deeply planted seeds use too much energy pushing upwards through the soil and end up not growing properly.
You will then have to plant the seeds again if you want a harvest for that year.
Just like seeds that are planted too deep, seeds planted less than an inch deep also may not germinate. Therefore, your entire harvest may fail if you plant okra seeds at the wrong depth.
What Happens If You Don’t Plant Okra Seeds Deep Enough?
If they are not planted at the correct depth of at most 1 inch below the top of the soil, okra seeds will not grow. The seeds need to settle in warm, moist soil to germinate.
To germinate, okra seeds need to sit deep in warm, moist soil until the seed coat softens. If seeds are planted near the surface, they either dry out or are eaten by birds and other scavengers.
You will then have to replant more okra seeds and a later sowing date can delay the harvest date. So you can end up with minimal harvests from your plants.
Therefore, it is best to plant your first okra well to get the best harvest possible.
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How Deep Should You Bury Okra Seeds?
Plant your okra seeds 1 to 2.5 cm deep and space the rows of okra 3 feet apart from each other.
Along each row, plant okra seeds every 5 cm (2 inches) then as they grow, thin the seedlings.
Improperly planted seeds will not germinate as expected. Avoid planting your okra seeds too deep or too close to the surface. By following this process you will end up with a large number of okra plants that will grow up to several feet tall.
Each plant is capable of producing fresh okra for up to 3 months because as you pick a pod, another one grows in its place.
Crop rotation and good soil management help control diseases. Okra is prone to wilt, root-knot nematode, and Southern stem blight. It is also normal for okra to attract various beetles and worms.
Watch regularly for attacks and take appropriate actions.
For okra varieties that have spines, wear gloves when picking the pods. The spineless varieties have fewer spines on the pods themselves, but spines on other parts of the plant make wearing gloves and long sleeves a good idea.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Okra Seeds Do You Plant Together?
Sow 2 to 3 okra seeds in each hole.
What Is The Best Month To Plant Okra?
Plant okra in early spring or June.
How To Make Okra Produce More?
Provide sufficient nutrition for okra through fertilizers, grow it in alkaline soil that drains well and plant varieties that guarantee high yields.
How To Grow Okra In Containers?
Plant 2-3 okra seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep in each container and water. Now, keep the container in a warm and sunny spot
To conclude, always plant okra seeds 1 to 2.5 cm deep but you must first get the right seeds and prepare your garden beds.
Make sure you don’t plant the seeds too deep as okra seeds will not sprout if planted too deep below the surface. Also, don’t plant them too close to the surface because they dry up and do not germinate or are eaten by wildlife.
How deep to plant okra seeds? An inch (2.5cm) below the soil is the ideal depth to plant them. Moisture and heat help soften the seed coat and these are within reach at a 1-inch depth.
They allow healthy seedlings to sprout through the surface.
Okra plants thrive when given the right start. However, the wrong planting techniques can cause your okra harvest to fail.