100% Michigan Grown Staple Crop Seeds that Empower Your Plant-based Lifestyle Goals

Okra - Abelmoschus esculentus: Plant, Grow, Use, & Save Seed

Okra seeds have a hard seed coat which slows germination. To help germination, soak seeds overnight or lightly rub each with sandpaper to allow better moisture penetration. Here in Michigan, I start our White Velvet Okra seeds indoors about two weeks before last expected frost. However, as okra really is a heat-loving crop, I keep seedlings indoors under lights and with good ventilation until our soil is at least 70° F (21° C.) With Mother Nature's unpredictable temperament I also protect okra transplants with hot kaps (paper cloches) until night temperatures are reliably in the mid to upper 60°s.

If direct seeding, sow seeds 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep in well drained soil that receives full sun. Plan for an in-row spacing of 1 foot (30.5 cm) between plants with 3 feet (91.5 cm) between rows.

Saving true-to-type okra seed is an easy task. Okra flowers are complete, meaning they self-pollinate. However, they are also very attractive to pollinators which increases the chance of cross-pollination. To save seeds for personal use, if you grow more than one variety of okra in your garden a season, keep them separate by at least 660 feet (~200 meters.) A greater distance (1320 ft / 400 m) is suggested if you intend to share or sell your seeds. You can also isolate individual blossoms by enclosing them before they open with a fine-meshed bag (I use organza bags); this considerably reduces the risk of cross-pollination by removing access to the stigma which collects the pollen.

Just as okra flowers open sequentially beginning from the bottom of the plant, the okra pods mature in the same sequence. Seeds are mature and ready for saving when their pod has dried and become brittle. Dry pods are easily broken to release the seeds. Even though okra seeds are hard-coated, it is a good idea to keep them in a mesh bag or on a screen until absolutely dry for storage.

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Have a favorite okra recipe? Please email it to Seeds at GreatLakesStapleSeeds dot com. We'd love to feature it!