Sunlight Requirements (where to plant related to sun)
- Full Sun
Soil Type (type of soil plant needs)
- Soil with Drainage but Wet
Climate Type (how tollerant is to frost?)
- No Frost Tolerant
Fragrant Plant (do flowers have an aroma?)
- No Fragrant Flowers
Difficulty Level (how hard is to cultivate this plant?)
Flower Color (what color flowers produces)
Blooming Season (which months blooms)
Showing Season (which months can we sow seeds)
Planting Season (which months can we plant or transplant)
How to grow Okra
Okra is an annual plant and resembles cotton. It belongs to the Malachid family with about 200 species and the name “Bamia” is Arabic. It has a deep root system, the plant is semi-woody, fibrous and reaches a height of 0.5 to 2 meters. The leaves are palm-like, round and large, covered with hairs and the flowers are yellow with a purple base. The seed is small, round, hard, grey-black in color. Flowering takes place 35-60 days after seed germination and there is only one flower open on each stem at any one time.
Other names for okra
Latin name: Hibiscus esculentus or Abelmoschus esculentus
English name: Okra and Gumbo
Greek name: Μπάμια (single), Μπάμιες (plural)
Okra thrives and is cultivated almost all over Greece but mainly in the regions of Evia, Lamia, Lamia, Trikala, Imathia, Pieria, Serres, Evros and Thessaloniki. In Greece it blooms from early summer until autumn. It is a light and healthy food for humans and is recommended for those with digestive problems. It is a favourite food of the Arab and Ethiopian people and the okra seeds roasted and ground are used for coffee.
Tips for growing okra
Start okra from seeds
Okra is a warm season plant, so it does not grow when the soil temperature is low. Sowing should be done when the soil temperature has stabilized at 15 degrees Celsius. Okra seed dehydrates over time, so do not use sow more than 3 years old seeds. The fresher it is, the greater the germination capacity and strength. Before sowing, the area should be disinfected with a suitable fungicide and always according to the instructions. The okra seed is very hard and for it to germinate quickly and normally the soil must be moist. In order to sow it by hand, it needs proving. For 10 square meters, 25-30 grams of seed are needed. The seed is put in lukewarm water, temperature 30 degrees Celsius for 24 hours. If it does not “pop” leave it in the water for another 24 hours. Once it is established that it has sprouted, it should be planted in moist soil.
Okra’s sowing distances
Make furrows spaced 40-50 cm apart and in them pour 2-3 seeds at 20-25 cm intervals, then cover them to a depth of 2-3 cm.
Thinning okra seedlings
After germination and when the okra seedlings have reached a height of 4-5 cm, thinning is carried out so that one plant remains in each position on the row. The best developed one must remain.
Carving soil around okras
Immediately after germination, carving should be done when they reach a height of 2- 3 cm because it has a significant effect on growth. A soil carving around the okra is equivalent to a watering, because soil carving destroys the weeds and thus the plants grow better. Depending on the conditions and the presence of weeds, the soil carving should be repeated.
Irrigation of okra plants
Okra is a drought-tolerant plant and depending on the natural composition of the soil, 1-2 irrigations are done every 7 days.
Best soil for okra
Okra is grown in light soils, mainly sandy loam, which must be well ploughed in the autumn to retain rainwater and made available to the plants in winter. Such fields are red soil and should be preferred.
Suitable soil’s pH is between 6.5 and 7.
The soil surface should be as level as possible and the soil should be finely compacted. A second ploughing before sowing is necessary. If our soil is sloping, it is advisable to make beds where possible, to allow the plants to use the moisture evenly. For the control of weeds preemergence Trifluralin, Treflan and postemergence Chlorthal-dimethyl can be used.
The amount and type of fertilizer depends on the fertility of the soil. For a soil of moderate fertility, 150-200 grams of ammonium nitrate, 300-350 grams of dilute superphosphate and 80-100 grams of potassium sulphate can be used in 10 square meters. The quantities of superphosphate and potassium together with 1/3 of the ammonium nitrate are incorporated into the soil by ploughing before sowing. The remaining 2/3 of the ammonium nitrate is applied in surface doses when the plants reach 3-4 cm. A compound fertilizer can also be used, such as 11-15-15 at a rate of 300 grams per 10 m2 and 8-8-8 at a rate of 1000 grams. Finally, incorporating manure or some other organic fertilizer reduces the use of chemical fertilizer and has better results.
Combined cropping okra
Okra can be cropped with carrot, cucumber and cauliflower.
Okra is considered to be a difficult to harvest crop because it is harvested by hand, one by one. It can cause itching and stinging of the hands and eyes. The okra fruit grows very quickly and therefore harvesting should be done regularly every 1-2 days. Harvesting begins when the okra fruit reaches 2-3 cm and continues until the leaves fall in autumn. Regardless of the length, the okra must be tender and not seeded.
Okra-Pylaia: grown mainly in Macedonia, Greece. The fruit is pentagonal, thin and small and the leaves are deeply indented. It is preferred by the processing industries.
Bamia-Boyatio: grown mainly in Central Greece. The fruit is small, pentagonal and of good quality. The leaves are large and slightly sticky.
Bamia-B.35: this is a fairly widespread variety and its seed has shown good germination capacity.
Bamia-Beluda: is a variety created after improvement efforts, early and with good seed germination capacity.
Bamia-Kilkisiou: the fruit is deep green in color, fleshy and small.
Bamia-Lassithi: it is widely cultivated in Crete. The fruit is small to medium in size and of good quality.
Bamia-Levadia: a variety of local interest.
Diseases and pests of okra
Scientific name: Fusarium, Vertcillium
Type of infestation: Disease
Information: It is a soil fungus.
Symptoms: Leaves twist inward and the plant appears stunted.
Pathogen-Growth conditions: The fungus is present in the soil and grows under conditions of excessive moisture. The favorable temperature for the growth of the pathogen is 21 degrees Celsius , so from spring to autumn.
Treatment. Remove any affected plants and destroy them. If you can apply a 3-year, 4-year rotation in your garden, it greatly reduces the chances of the disease occurring.
Scientific name: Myzus persicae
Infestation type: Pest
Symptom Appearance: Leaf infestation
Information: Small green-colored insects that grow on the leaves and tops of the plant.
Symptoms: Leaves become deformed and sticky at the infestation sites.
Pathogen-Growth conditions: Beware of excessive nitrogen fertilization because it results in vigorous vegetation growth and thus a greater likelihood of infestation.
Treatment: We take care of the good growth of the plants (fertilization and irrigation), removal of infected leaves, spraying with appropriate soaps and use the ladybug (biological treatment) which is a natural enemy of aphids.
Gryllothalpa or Onion-eater or Pumpkin-eater or Prasangouras or Lakoti (Central Macedonia) or Perchikouras (Eastern Crete)
Scientific name: Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa
Type of infestation: Insect
Symptom appearance: root infestation
Information: Lives in the soil and feeds on the underground portion of the plant as well as on worms and other insects.
Symptoms: Characteristic underground tunnels and damaged roots.
Treatment: lots of digging and ploughing, tin cans (soda cans) with water up to the waist, a few centimetres below the soil surface and place them at edges and corners. Also oil and mothballs, can’t stand one smell or the other.
Scientific name: Melolontha melolontha
Type of infestation: Insect
Symptom appearance: Infestation on the root, Infestation on the leaves.
Information: Becomes visible in spring and deposits its eggs in clusters below the soil surface. In the evening they gather in masses on the leaves.
Symptoms: Damaged foliage and eaten roots.
Treatment: similar to the onion borer.
Scientific name: Heterodera sp.
Infestation type: Pest
Symptom appearance: Infection at the root.
Information: Infests woody plants, corn, soybeans and some cereals.
Symptoms: Causing bumps and deformities in the roots.
Treatment: Enrich the soil with organic matter, good ploughing to expose the nematodes to the surface and disinfect the tools.
Scientific name: Septoria petroselini
Infestation type: Disease
Symptom Appearance: Leaf attack
Symptoms: Initially chlorotic spots appear on the leaves, which turn brown and die. Black spots appear in the center of the necrotic spots.
Treatment: Remove the affected leaves, destroy them and spray with copper-based preparations.
Scientific name: Tetranychus urticae
Type of infestation: Insect/Acarean
Symptom Appearance: Attack on leaves
Information: It is found in the soil and its population increases greatly when the temperature rises.
Symptoms: Leaves turn yellow and eventually dry out. Yellow or red spots can be seen on them.
Treatment: Pressurize the plants to reduce the population, spray with insecticidal soap, and you can use ladybug as a natural enemy. Also, intercropping with dill may reduce the infestation.
Scientific name: Erysiphe polygoni
Infestation type: Disease
Symptom appearance: Leaf attack
Symptoms: White rash on the upper surface of the leaves.
Treatment: Remove affected leaves and spray with sulphur preparations.
Another article by Sophia Papazoglou for kalliergo.gr
Agricultural Technologist MSc “Environmental Management”