If you love gumbo, you may want to invite okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) into your veggie garden. This member of the hibiscus family is a pretty plant, with showy purple and yellow blossoms that develop into tender pods. While one variety dominates the okra seed sales, you may also enjoy experimenting with other types of okra. Read on to learn about the different okra plants and tips on which kinds of okra might work well in your garden.
Growing Different Kinds of Okra Plants
You might not appreciate being called “spineless,” but it’s an attractive quality for okra plant varieties. The most popular of all the different okra plants is Clemson Spineless, one of the types of okra with very few spines on its pods and branches. Clemson Spineless plants grow to around 4 feet (1.2 m.) tall. Look for pods in about 56 days. The seeds for Clemson are fairly inexpensive and the plants are self-pollinating.
Several other okra plant varieties are also popular in this country. One that is especially attractive is called Burgundy okra. It has tall, wine-red stems that match the veining in the leaves. The pods are large, crimson and tender. The plant is very productive and gets to harvest in 65 days.
Jambalaya okra is equally productive, but one of the more compact kinds of okra. The pods are 5 inches (13 cm.) long and ready to harvest in 50 days. They are reputed to be excellent for canning.
Heritage okra plant varieties are those that have been around a long time. One of the heritage types of okra is called Star of David. It is from the Eastern Mediterranean; this okra grows taller than the gardener tending it. The purple leaves are attractive and the pods are ready for harvest in two months or so. Look out for the spines, however.
Other heirlooms include Cowhorn, growing to 8 feet (2.4 m.) tall. It takes three months for the 14-inch (36 cm.) pods to come to harvest. On the other end of the height spectrum, you’ll find the okra plant called Stubby. It only gets to just over 3 feet (.9 m.) tall and its pods are stubby. Harvest them when they are under 3 inches (7.6 cm.).