Chinese Okra is an heirloom, open-pollinated variety that is an excellent multi-purpose plant for your vegetable garden. Also known as “vine okra” or “ridged luffa gourd,” this variety produces edible fruits that can also be dried for making sponges and homemade dishwashing cloths. Contrary to what the name suggests, this is actually a gourd variety that produces edible fruits when harvested young.
Chinese Okra produces elongated fruits that are tender when harvested under 10-12″ long. At this stage, the fruits resemble large okra pods and can be cooked just like okra. The ridges on the exterior of the fruits make them a great option for frying. The taste is similar to okra with a hint of cucurbit flavor on the end. Plants are vining and perform best when grown on a trellis. To make sponges, allow the fruits to dry on the vine and harvest once they are completely dry.
Chinese Okra may be direct-seeded or transplanted. In early spring, we recommend transplanting to get a jump start on the growing season. Okra prefers warmer temperatures for seed to germinate. By transplanting, you can have plants in the ground before the soil temperature warms enough to direct seed. We recommend starting transplants 4-5 weeks before the desired outdoor planting date. Okra transplants grow great in our heavy-duty seed starting trays, where they develop a solid root ball with roots that are trained to grow downward. Plants are ready to go in the ground when they can be easily pulled from the cells in the seed starting tray. If direct-seeding, wait until soil temps are sufficiently warm in late spring/early summer.
Chinese Okra Planting Information
Planting Method: direct seed or transplant
When to Plant: after last frost
Planting Depth: 1/2″
Seed Spacing: 12-18″
Row Spacing: 3′
Days to Maturity: 90
Disease Resistance: None