Okra seeds need optimal conditions to germinate. The seed coat is thick and hard, inhibiting germination unless the seeds are treated to enhance germination. Some seeds are scarified with acid by the seed producer to increase germination rates. Check the package expiration date, old seeds are less likely to germinate. Under ideal conditions, your okra should germinate within seven days.
Conditions that Encourage Sprouting
Okra grows best in well-drained soils with a pH between 6.5 to 7.5. It is a hot-weather crop that prefers full sun. Sow the seeds directly into the garden or plant them in peat pots for later transplanting. Plant the seeds 3/4 to 1 inch deep in hills 12 to 24 inches apart. Plant two seeds per hole and thin the plants, leaving the strongest plant when they reach approximately 3 inches tall.
Soak the Seeds For Better Germination
Iowa State University Extension recommends soaking the seeds overnight before planting to soften the seed coat and increase the germination rate. Soaking for four to six hours will do the job. Either cover the seeds in water or wrap them in damp paper towels.
Freeze the Seeds for Better Germination
Another way to increase the chances of germination is to freeze the seeds before planting, according to the Clemson University Extension. Freezing breaks the seed coat and increases potential germination. Place the seeds in the freezer overnight before planting in warm soil.
Temperatures for Germination
Okra sprouts best in warm soil. Plant it in the spring or early summer when the soil temperature has reached at least 70 degrees F and the daytime temperatures are reaching 75 to 90 degrees. Okra seeds do not sprout in soil temperatures below 65 degrees.
Days to Maturity
Viable okra seeds germinate within seven days and then require approximately 48 to 75 days to maturity, depending on the variety. The plants and pods grow very fast and require picking every day or two to prevent the pods from becoming large and fibrous.
- Oklahoma State University; Solid Matrix Priming Improves Seedling Vigor of Okra Seeds; Ranjit Mereddy, et al.; 2000
- Iowa State University; Growing Okra in the Home Garden; Richard Jauron; April 2005
- Clemson Cooperative Extension; Okra; Powell Smith, et al.; December April 2003
- Oregon State University Commercial Vegetable Production Guides; Okra; April 2002
- Photo Credit Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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