The common name of Hibiscus Esculentus is Okra. Also, it is known as as Abelmoschus esculentus. It is a member of mallow family, related to rose of Sharon and hibiscus. Well, let us talk about Hibiscus Esculentus here.
About Hibiscus Esculentus (Okra)
Hibiscus Esculentus or Abelmoschus esculentus (Okra) is a plant that belong to mallow family, well known in lots of English-speaking countries as Ochro or ladies fingers. The plant is valued for its green seed pods. Need to know that it is a good source of minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. The plant is cultivated in subtropical, tropical, and warm temperate regions in the world. Even, it is an essential part of the cuisine of the Southern United States and India.
Okra is an herbaceous that reach from 3-6feet in height with a stem woody and 3 or 4 inches thick. The flowers are solitary, big, and showy, features a pale yellow, tinged at the base a dark crimson. The herbaceous of the flower are clothed with the sharp bristles, and frequently own purplish spots.
This Abelmoschus esculentus fruit has a pentagonal with cylindrical capsule and long from 2 -12 inches, at the base is tapering, and has diameter about I inch. It is frequently curved, and it is covered with the hairs, especially along the ridges. The pods contain some roundish or kidney-shaped smooth seeds in each of some cells.
Plant and Grow Okra (Hibiscus Esculentus)
The gardeners usually call okra as gumbo. It is a plant believed to have originated in West Africa. According to the research, this annual vegetable first appeared in American gardens in the early 18th century, where it became a staple in the South, particularly in Louisiana dishes. Now, gumbo usually refers to a spicy stew made with okra, tomatoes and other ingredients.
Although this hibiscus grow well in warm weather, in short growing season the gardeners will be able to grow these plants with edible gelatinous pods. Usually, Okra will thrive wherever corn is able to grow.
- Before planting, you have to soak the seeds overnight in lukewarm water or nick them with a file to soften the seed coat. In the South, you are able to sow okra directly in the garden. Northern gardeners are able to start okra seeds indoors four to six weeks before the last average frost date.
- Then, you have to wait until nighttime temperatures reach into the 60s before sowing okra outside. After that, you are able to plant the seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep. If you have a long growing season, you will be able to plant again in midsummer.
- Although okra is going to grow in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. For the best results, you are plant in soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. Change your garden spot with lots of compost or other good organic matter, and use in a slow release fertilizer. You are able to follow your product’s directions for how much to apply. In addition, you are able to use an organic fertilizer if you prefer.
- Next, give space the seeds 3 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart. After the seedlings have their first true leaves, you have to thin them to every 18 to 24 inches. If you are transplanting seedlings, please handle them carefully to avoid damaging their taproots.
- You have to wait until the young plants are 3 or four inches tall before mulching, so the sun will help warm the soil. Mulch to help control the weeds and retain moisture. Okra tolerates dryness than most of vegetables, but you have to water the plant once in a week if rainfall is scarce.
- After the weather heats up, this hibiscus esculentus plants are going to grow tall and produce yellow blooms which looks like hibiscus flowers. Then starting of the plant of this hubiacus, pods wills form. Use compost when you thin the plants. And when the pods appear during the growing season, repeat the side dressing.
- Usually, the pods are ready to harvest in about 50 to 60 days from planting. You have to pick them when they are young and tender or approximately 2 to 4 inches long. They become stringy and tough quickly, so you have to check your plants every other day.
- You do not pull the pods to avoid breaking the plants. For this case, you are able to use a sharp knife or pruning shears instead, leaving a short stub on the pods. You need to wear handgloves due to some varieties have sticky spines. For your information, harvest often and the plants are going to produce until they are killed by frost. In the South, okra or Hibiscus Esculentus can reach 8 feet tall (the stems are sturdy, and do not need staking). If desired, you are able to prune them back by about 1/3.
- There are some pests or diseases may bother okra. Fusarium can make the foliage to turn yellow and wilt. If it appears, you have to pull and destroy the diseased plants. Please do not plant okra in the same spot next year. Rotating crops will help prevent or control issues.
- If Okra pods and plants look distorted, suspect aphids, leaf footed bugs or stink bugs. The holes in leaves are able to be a sign of corn earworms or Japanese beetles. Please hand pick and remove big pests. Then, you are able to drop them into a bucket of soapy water. You have to check with your local extension service office for other control measures.
- Smaller insects are able to be knocked off with a stream of water from your garden hose. If they persist, you are able to use an insecticidal soap, following label directions. Refrigerate the okra pods to store them, but you do not wash them until you are ready to use them. The pods are going to last for a few days. For long-term storage, okra can be frozen or canned.