Other common names: Lady's Fingers, Okra, Gumbo, Bendi, 咖啡黄葵, 黄苏葵, 黄秋葵, 羊角豆
Lady’s-Fingers are a common crop in many Community Gardens, and are an easy plant for new edible gardeners to grow. The unripe pod of Lady’s-Finger can be eaten raw, but is often stir-fried or added to soup. The pod produces a juice with a mucus-like texture and is used to thicken soups and stews.
Most varieties of Lady’s-Fingers are grown as an annual, but they have been also been grown as a perennial crop in Singapore. The most common variety of Lady's-Finger is slender and green, but there are also red varieties, and varieties with very plump fruits.
This plant is part of the Malvaceae or Hibiscus family, which includes other edible plants like the Cranberry Hibiscus.
Sun and soil needs:
This plant does best in full sun gardens with a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight.
Sow seeds individually in a seedling tray filled with potting mix or seedling mix. Lightly mist the soil until damp, once a day. Seeds should sprout within two weeks.
The seedlings will be vulnerable to high heat and heavy rain and are best kept in a sheltered propagation area or a shaded space with around 4 hours of partial or direct sunlight.
Seedlings will be ready for transplanting into pots or true ground when they have developed 4 or more leaves, or roughly a week or two after germination. Leave 15-30cm between each plant to encourage more growth and better ventilation.
Lady’s-Fingers will produce more flowers and thus more fruit when fed with fertilisers high in Phosphorus and Potassium. Plants can be fertilised regularly once a month after the plant produces its first flower for a fuller crop.
It is a good practice to prune regularly and remove dead leaves and stems to improve ventilation and allow light to reach more of the plant. Regular pruning also decreases the likelihood of pests quickly taking over the plant.
This plant can grow more than 2m tall, but for the ease of harvesting it can be pruned to a manageable hight of around 1m and continue to fruit. Taller plants can be staked for additional support and prevent the stem from snapping.
Lady’s-finger plants are pollinated by Woodborer bees, but most varieties are self-pollinated.
Plants can be harvested for fruit pods around 2 months after sowing. The best time to harvest the fruit is in the early morning, before 9am.
Only the immature pods of the Lady’s-Finger are edible. Harvest pods that are soft with bendable tips for better texture.
Pods can be left on the plant to mature. Ripe pods are hard and woody and be harvested for seeds to be planted.
|Sowing to germination
|Germination to transplanting
|Transplanting to first harvest
|Total sowing to first harvest
|Less than 2 weeks
|1 to 2 weeks
|2 to 4 months
Check out our sowing & harvest planner to schedule your growing!
Lady’s-Fingers are grown from seed.
Common problems & solutions:
If your plant has few to no flowers, you can fertilise the plant with fertilisers high in phosphorus and potassium. These nutrients encourage root and flower growth, which are important for the plant to produce more fruit.
Aphids, Mealy Bugs, Whiteflies, and Spider Mites often infest the plant if it has underlying problems like repeated wilting from heat stress. Mechanical pest control methods like pruning the infested parts are the best methods for managing these pests in the short term, but resolving the underlying problem will prevent them in the long term.
This plant is prone to mildew during the wet season. Prune the plant regularly to increase airflow, and remove heavily affected leaves.