Why are my okra leaves feathery?
July 2, 2016 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Last year my okra had happy full leaves that kind of looked more like this. This year most of it looks like this. It's still producing okay but l imagine the plant would be happier if it had nice full leaves. Raised bed, good soil, no pests in sight - any ideas? It's been super hot - could that be it? Thanks in advance for any ideas!
posted by ftm to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Did you plant a different variety?
posted by isthmus at 10:02 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have seen the same variation in leaf shape in Scabiosa atropurpurea (Mourning Bride).

During drought, the leaves are feathery and in-cut, organized in slender fingers. When they have plenty of water, the spaces between the fingers is filled in with leaf.

If you increase the amount of water the plants are getting, leaves that are already grown will not improve or change. Only new growth will have better filled in leaves.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:22 AM on July 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

Seconding the suggestion that you planted a different variety than you did last year. Take a look at the Google image results for okra plants and you'll see lots of plants with leaves like yours.

Incidentally, okra loves it some super-hot weather, and so long as your leaves are green and healthy and able to photosynthesize, you've got nothing to worry about. Okra pods don't get sun scald like some other summer veggies do.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:54 PM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

All thoughts appreciated; my sweet wife is a Tiger and all our okra is Clemson Spineless, mostly seed from last year. It did the feathery thing LATE in the season last year (October).

It's getting the same amount of water as it was as seedlings, and I assume these 3' tall plants could use more, so I've doubled the irrigation time and will report back - given out recent very hot and dry conditions it certainly sounds plausible! Thanks y'all.
posted by ftm at 7:23 PM on July 2, 2016

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