Clemson Spineless

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Harvest Size: 3-inch pods
  • Days to Harvest: 50 to 64
  • Plant Size: 2 to 3 feet wide, 4 to 8 feet tall

Okra is a traditional Southern favorite for gumbo, stews, and, of course, fried okra. More and more Northern gardeners are realizing their love for okra, too. An All America Selections winner from 1939, this Clemson Spineless green okra produces high yields of spineless, tender, ribbed pods with excellent flavor. Harvest pods when 3 inches long for the most tender, flavorful okra.

Okra loves warm, sunny weather. Plant in late spring or, in cooler zones, wait until early summer. You’ll still have plenty of time to grow and harvest okra in about 2 months. Okra flowers look like the blooms of a hibiscus, which is a relative of okra.

Plant spacing: 10 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart. Plants per person: 3 to 4 for fresh; 6 to 8 for fresh and preserving.

Secrets to Success »

Plant okra in your sunniest spot. Prepare the soil with a 3-inch layer of compost and a time-released or organic fertilizer, mixing them into the soil. Be extra careful with okra’s fragile taproot, which cannot be broken. To protect the taproot, water seedlings an hour before planting. Then, gently break apart the seedlings’ biodegradable containers, and set in their prepared spot only slightly deeper (a half inch) than they grew in the pots. Water well. While okra tolerates drought, it prefers regular water.

Clemson Spineless plants have a somewhat tree-like habit and can grow 6 to 8 feet tall near the end of summer. Some gardeners prune back the top one-third of the plant to keep the harvest reachable.

Harvest and Use »

Once plants start producing, check every day for 2- to 4-inch pods, which start at the base of the plant and move upward. If allowed to grow larger, pods become tough and stringy; remove too-large pods so they don’t inhibit growth of new pods. Okra is a “cut-and-come-again” vegetable, meaning you keep cutting and the pods will keep coming. Trim off stems and slice okra crosswise for use in gumbo and stewed okra and tomatoes. Fried okra is a Southern favorite; use slices or fry the whole pods. Preserve okra by pickling or freezing sliced pods in freezer bags.

Try These Garden Companions »

  • Tomatoes for stewing, such as romas.
  • Onions.
  • Sweet potato.
  • Cajun Belle pepper.

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