When you think about okra, images of the southern states might pop into your head; it’s a heat-loving plant that needs a long growing season to produce its edible pods.
Despite the reputation, okra does grow in all USDA hardiness zones, but you have to take a look at all of the okra varieties and pick the right one for your garden.
We’re going to take a look at all of the different okra varieties to help you pick the right one for your growing season. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a failed crop and many inedible, immature pods.
Don’t let that be you!
How to Pick the Right Okra Variety for Your Garden
The biggest concern when it comes to picking okra varieties is your climate. We know that many okra cultivars have a long growing season, but if you don’t have a season length to match, you won’t be able to enjoy the okra pods.
Depending on where you’re going to plant your okra, you’ll also want to look at the mature plants’ height.
Typically, the width will match the height, and while pruning can keep them at a manageable height, make sure the space you have can handle the size of the plant.
If you have limited space or need to keep the okra plants at a smaller height due to shade casting, look for dwarf varieties.
You’ll also find some varieties listed as spineless, but what does that mean?
19 Of The Best Okra Varieties To Grow
If you’re looking for a dwarf okra plant variety that doesn’t get too tall, Blondy could be an excellent option for you. Typically, this okra variety only reaches up to four feet tall. It produces three-inch-long pods that are spineless and pale green.
Blondy is another excellent option for those with a shorter growing season, taking about 50 days to reach full maturity. It works well in container gardens and small plots.
2. Baby Bubba Hybrid
Here is an okra variety known for its small size, which is perfect for small garden plots or container gardening. These plants typically reach 3-4 feet tall and 24 inches wide.
Baby Bubba produces dark green okra fruits, taking 53 days, on average, to mature. So, if you live in a northern area or somewhere with a colder climate, Baby Bubba is ideal for shorter growing seasons.
Here is a variety that isn’t a small plant, so it’s best only to pick Burgundy okra if you have space for it. The plants typically reach five feet in height and 4 feet in width. That’s pretty large for a single plant!
If you have space, this is one of the okra varieties that is a real showstopper. It has burgundy-colored stems with green leaves that create a gorgeous contrast.
The pods on this variety are 6-8 inches long, taking 49-60 days to reach maturity.
4. Clemson Spineless
Since 1939 when Clemson Spineless won the All-America Selection award, this okra variety has been the industry standard and the most popular type on the market.
It’s a favorite amongst gardeners, continuing to top the charts for the most sold each year.
It’s estimated that 90% of all commercially grown okra is Clemson Spineless. One study found that one acre of this variety yields up to 3,989 pods. That’s a lot!
Clemson Spineless is not a small or dwarf variety. The plants reach four feet tall and four feet wide. It takes 60 days to reach maturity. The pods are spineless, dark green, slightly curved, and up to nine inches in length.
5. Bowling Red
Who doesn’t love an heirloom plant that has a history behind it? Bowling Red okra began by the Bowling family of Virginia in the 1920s.
Since it originated closer to the southern states, it is a long-growing season variety, taking up to 65 days to mature. Remember, that’s in ideal conditions.
Bowling Red plants grow up to eight tall with deep red stems that make this a real showstopper.
The pods are long and thin, and gardeners remark that these are more tender than your average okra pod.
6. Cajun Delight
Are you still looking for the perfect short growing season okra variety? Cajun Delight is a hybrid okra plant that takes up to 55 days to reach full maturity. This plant reaches up to four feet tall, so it’s not ideal if you want to grow okra in containers.
The pods on this variety are dark green, measuring 3-5 inches long with a slightly curved shape.
7. Jing Orange
One of the most popular varieties of okra is Jing Orange that produces a lovely deep reddish-orange, colorful pod.
If you like plants that are strikingly beautiful while also producing a fantastic harvest, Jing Orange matches your desires.
It’s a Chinese heirloom variety that grows six to eight-inch long pods early, even if you live in dry conditions. Gardeners remark that these pods are incredibly tender once cooked in a dish.
The plants themselves aren’t too long nor too small. They measure five to six feet tall, so in the middle of the possible ranges.
You could prune them to keep it on the smaller side if you prefer to grow these in containers.
8. Go Big
It’s hard not to appreciate a double duty plant – offering edible, delicious fruits and looking gorgeous while doing so. Go Big okra is perfect for those who like ornamental plants with a purpose.
These plants are tall, typically reaching up to seven feet tall and five feet wide. It’s not a variety if you want to grow okra in containers unless you have a massive pot for them.
Go Big produces dark green pods that are about seven inches long, and it takes up to 65 days to reach full maturity.
9. Cow Horn
If you live in the south and have a longer growing season, Cow Horn okra can be an ornamental plant for you as well. It’s a large, heirloom that takes up to 90 days to reach maturity.
How large is large?
Cow Horn plants can reach up to 14 feet tall – seriously! To match, the pods are enormous as well, reaching up to 14 inches in length with a curved shape.
Emerald okra is an open-pollinated, heirloom variety of okra developed by the Campbell’s Soup Company in the 1950s. How cool is that?
These are not ideal plants for someone who wants to grow okra in containers; they can reach up to 8 feet tall.
The pods grow up to seven inches in length with a smooth, dark green color. It takes up to 60 days for this plant to reach full maturity.
11. Star of David
This variety of okra originated as an Eastern Mediterranean heirloom seed, reaching up to seven feet tall or higher.
That’s right; this plant can be even taller than that, so Star of David okra is not recommended for small space gardening or containers.
This plant has purplish leaves and fat pods that take up to 75 days to reach maturity. That’s why it’s recommended as a cultivar for southern gardeners to grow.
It’s right on the cusp of being too long for short season gardeners. It’s not a spineless variety. In fact, it has more spines than average, but those do boil off, so don’t worry!
12. Jambalaya Okra
This is a productive but compact okra variety that is awesome for growing pods that work well for canning and other preservation methods.
The pods measure about five inches long that are really meaty and take 50 days to reach maturity.
That means it’s a fantastic option for northern gardeners or southern gardeners who want two harvests.
If you want to be the first in your neighborhood with fresh okra, Jambalaya will earn you that title.
Since these plants are compact, typically measuring four feet tall, you could grow them in containers if you wanted. The plant starts to produce pods as soon as it’s two feet tall!
Here is an heirloom variety of okra that originated from Burma or Myanmar. It’s an early producing cultivar that takes about 53 days to produce its harvest.
Burmese okra plants start to produce when the plants are about 18 inches tall, and they’ll continue to bear fruit until the first frost hits in your region.
Burmese plants have huge leaves that measure up to 16 inches across!
The pods grow up to 12 inches long, slender-looking, and curved while being virtually spineless. As the pods mature, they change from light green to a yellow-green.
14. Alabama Red
If you want to see a plant grow at a crazy fast rate and produce its harvest in a short time frame, Alabama Red okra is the plant for you.
It can reach maturity in as little as 50 days, and it grows to a height of five to seven feet tall.
These plants produce abundantly, yielding fat red and green pods. The stems and leaf veins are red to match the pods. You’ll love these pods; they’re delicious fried or pickled fresh.
15. Perkins Long Pod
Perkins is an heirloom variety with a shorter growing season, taking only 55 days to reach full maturity. It works well for northern and southern gardeners.
Perkins Long Pod plants reach about five feet in height, bearing straight green pods that measure four inches long.
16. Silver Queen
Silver Queen okra is a variety that loves the southern states, thriving in the heat of summertime. It doesn’t like cold weather at all.
Silver Queen is one of the okra varieties that takes longer to mature, typically about 80 days.
That’s another indicator that this cultivar does better in warmer climates with a long growing season.
It’s an heirloom variety that can reach up to six feet tall, producing ivory-green pods that measure seven inches long.
17. Red Velvet
This okra variety produces plants that grow up to five feet tall and four feet wide, so they’re on the border of being an acceptable size for small space gardening.
Some people say that they fit well in containers, but you will need a large pot to hold them.
Red Velvet okra produces scarlet red pods that are ribbed and reach up to six inches long. It takes about 55-60 days to reach full maturity.
18. Louisiana Green Velvet
Here is another open-pollinated, heirloom variety of okra that produces large plants. Louisiana Green Velvet plants can be up to eight feet tall, producing eight inches long, dark green, and spineless pods.
This plant makes quite a statement in your garden since it will be taller than you, but it produces abundantly.
One study showed that an acre of this cultivar yields up to 3,826 of okra pods; that’s close to the yield produced by Clemson Spineless.
19. Hill Country Red
As you might have guessed from the name, this variety produces red okra pods instead of green.
It’s an heirloom seed created in the Texas Hill country. The plant reaches an average of six feet tall, which adds an exciting look along with producing delicious fruit.
Hill Country Red takes about 64 days to mature, producing green fruits with red tinges throughout that measure up to six inches long.
Picking The Right Type of Okra
As you can see, the myth that only southern gardeners can grow okra is a myth. You do want to make sure you plant okra when it’s warm outside. You might need to wait a few weeks after the last frost in your region to be sure that the frost’s risk is gone.
Pick one or more of the best okra varieties for your garden based on your growing season, type of garden you have, and what kind of okra you want.
Bethany is a suburban homesteader, growing over half of the vegetables, fruit, and herbs that her family of six needs each year. She raises chickens and homeschools her children. When she isn’t spending time tending to her garden, you can find her reading, crocheting, and canning.