Growing Eggplants from Seedlings to Harvest (2024)

Table of Contents
Starting to Grow Eggplants Planting and Care for Eggplants Eggplant Pests and Diseases Harvesting Eggplants Eggplant Humor Common Questions and Answers About How to Grow Eggplant Are eggplant leaves edible? Are eggplants easy to grow? Are there male and female eggplant flowers? Can eggplant grow in shade? Can eggplants be perennial? Can I eat too much eggplant? Can you eat small eggplants? Can you eat the skin of baby eggplant? Can you grow tomatoes and eggplants together? Can you overwater eggplant? Can you plant eggplant deep like tomatoes? Do bees pollinate eggplant? Do eggplant flowers become fruit? Do eggplants climb? Do eggplants grow back every year? Do eggplants grow well in containers? Do eggplants keep producing? Do eggplants like water? Do eggplants need a lot of sun? Do eggplants need support? Do you need to rinse eggplant after salting? Do you need to soak eggplant in salt water? Do you really need to salt (or “sweat”) eggplant? Do you salt both sides of eggplant? Do you soak eggplant seeds before planting? Does Chinese eggplant taste different from regular eggplant? How big do “patio” eggplants grow? How big do white eggplants get? How big does a mini eggplant get? How can you tell if an eggplant is ripe? How deep do eggplant roots grow? How do I know when eggplant is ready to pick? How do you fertilize eggplant? How do you grow eggplant at home? How do you grow eggplant in pots? How do you hand pollinate eggplant flowers? How do you increase eggplant yield? How do you take care of eggplant plants? How do you trim an eggplant? How do you water eggplant plants? How long does an eggplant last? How long does it take for eggplant to grow after flowering? How long does it take to grow an eggplant? How many eggplants do you get per plant? How many times can you harvest eggplant? How much space do eggplants need? How often do eggplants need to be watered? How often should you fertilize eggplant? How tall do eggplants grow? Is eggplant a bush or a vine? Is eggplant still good if it’s brown inside? Is it hard to grow eggplant? Is it OK to eat green eggplant? Should eggplant be peeled? Should I prune eggplant plants? Should you remove eggplant seeds? What colors do eggplants come in? What is a good companion plant for eggplant? What is the best fertilizer for eggplants? What kind of soil do eggplants like? What month do you plant eggplant? What should you not plant next to eggplant? What size container is needed for eggplant? Eggplant Growing Reference Chart Want more information about growing eggplants? Related


Like its relative the green pepper and the tomato, eggplant is a warm season crop. It’s an excellent source of dietary fiber and a very good source of vitamins B1, B6, and potassium. Eggplant is also a potent antioxidant. Besides, it tastes great. If you have plenty of sunshine and a long growing season it’s a very satisfying crop to grow.

Growing Eggplants from Seedlings to Harvest (2)

Starting to Grow Eggplants

Because eggplants need warmth to grow, they are best started indoors from seeds and transplanted after the soil has warmed to at least 60 degrees F and the danger of frost has past. Gardeners can buy transplants or grow their own from seed. One advantage of growing eggplants from seed is that you have more choice because specialty seed growers offer different varieties—ranging from the standard Black Beauty to large, white ovals like Casper and Easter Egg to long, slim purple fruits like Long Purple and Ichiban.

Planting and Care for Eggplants

Harden off your seedlings before you plant them. You can get them used to living outdoors by putting them outside in the shade for a few hours a day and gradually increasing their exposure. To protect seedlings from an unexpected cold snap cover the plants—plastic milk or water jugs work great.

Eggplants need full sun and well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Add compost or rotten manure to each hole before planting. Give plants 24 inches in all directions, less for small varieties.

Once the plants are established mulch them to keep the soil moist and warm and the weeds under control.

Eggplant Pests and Diseases

Your dreams of Eggplant Parmesan will be gone in an instant if cutworms slice through the stems of young plants. Remove all weeds from the garden plot a couple of weeks before planting. Then place a cutworm collar around each plant—used paper or plastic cups, tin cans, and plastic containers work great. Row covers can also keep flew beetles off your plants. Spraying with insecticidal soap is usually enough to dislodge aphids and keep them away. If you find caterpillars just pick them off.

Plant resistant varieties to keep leaf spot and fruit rot at bay. Avoid overwatering and keep plants well spaced to deter fungal diseases.

Harvesting Eggplants

When the skin turns glossy your eggplants are ready to eat. Start harvesting when the fruits are a third of their full size, and continue until the skin starts turning dull and crinkly.

Eggplant Humor

Common Questions and Answers About How to Grow Eggplant

Are eggplant leaves edible?

Eggplant leaves are not edible. On the contrary, they are toxic due to the alkaloid solanine they contain. Solanine poisoning due to consumption can cause symptoms such as drowsiness, fever, nausea, vomiting, and weakness, and severe solanine poisoning can lead to death from respiratory distress.

Are eggplants easy to grow?

In areas where summers are long and warm, growing eggplant is a very easy process. If you live in an area with short summers, you may want to consider purchasing eggplant varieties that produce medium to small fruits and are well suited to container gardening. If you provide your eggplants with a warm, sunny location, loose, well-draining soil, and a steady and even supply of fresh water, your eggplant crops will reward you with big,beautiful fruits.

Are there male and female eggplant flowers?

The eggplant does not have a gender and is neither male nor female, however, each eggplant comes equipped with cross-pollinating flowers of both the male and female gender. Because eggplants produce two different types of fruit, it is widely believed that there is a male and a female eggplant, which is simply not true. All eggplants are produced from parts of the female flower, yet all eggplants also have male organs as well, which makes the plant self-fertilizing. The pollen from the male organ transfers to the female organ in the flower, forming the fruit.

Can eggplant grow in shade?

Eggplants require full sunlight exposure to grow successfully and develop fruit. Even partial shade will stunt the growth of your eggplants significantly. Cold weather and shady areas are detrimental to healthy eggplant growth and should be avoided at all costs. Without adequate sunlight, the leaves of the eggplant will not become bushy and absorb more light as the plant develops through the spring and summer months. Without sunlight, the plants will not have the energy stored that is needed to develop large fruits, and if they were in deep shade, they most likely will not fruit at all. Eggplants are heat-loving plants which require full days of sun exposure not only to develop fruit, but to keep the plants warm and happy.

Can eggplants be perennial?

Eggplants grow in the wild in their homeland in South Asia as a perennial plant, though most gardeners treat these warm-season vegetables as annuals. To grow your eggplants as perennials, prune the branches down to the lowest new growth in the fall and amend the soil with more compost and manure, keeping it slightly moist. Provide some form of overhead frost protection during frosts and cold spells and your plants should survive into the next growing season ready to produce more fruit. However, you may want to plant some new plants in the near vicinity just to compare the vigor and growth of the new plants to the old ones to see if it is really worth it to keep the old plants around.

Can I eat too much eggplant?

Though many people are just fine gorging on as much eggplant as they can eat, there are some folks that should watch the amount of eggplant they intake. Nasunin is a phytochemical that binds to iron and removes it from cells in a process called iron chelation. This process, while useful to those who have too much iron in their systems, is dangerous for people with low iron levels. People with iron deficiencies should not consume large amounts of foods that contain nasunin.

Because eggplants belong to the nightshade family, they contain an alkaloid called solanine, which can be toxic if consumed in large amounts. Eating the leaves and tubers of nightshade plants can be fatal, as there are large amounts of the alkaloid in parts of the plant that are not typically consumed. People are generally at risk of solanine poisoning if they have eaten potatoes that have turned green, as they have the highest amount of solanine in them. Eggplants have a moderate to low amount of solanine and are unlikely to cause solanine poisoning unless consumed in very large amounts.

In rare cases, people can trigger a reaction to one or more of the compounds present in eggplants due to a lipid transfer protein in the plant. Eggplant allergies can cause hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing, and in extreme cases, could lead to anaphylaxis. If anyone experiences any of these symptoms, they should quickly seek medical attention, as anaphylaxis can be a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Can you eat small eggplants?

Eggplants of all sizes are entirely edible. Smaller eggplants are not only edible, they are often sweeter and tastier than full sized fruits. The skin of the eggplant, especially with larger eggplants, can be a little bit tough and is often removed before cooking. If your eggplant is tender, young, and rather small, the skin can be left on for braising or skillet frying, and should be left on if possible, as it is rich in nutrients. If your eggplant is on the larger side and the skin is spongy or rock hard, it will most likely need to be removed before cooking or ingesting.

Can you eat the skin of baby eggplant?

The skin of the eggplant is entirely edible, however, on larger, more developed eggplants, the skin can be spongy or rock hard, and will need to be removed before cooking or eating. If your eggplant is young, tender, and smaller than the average eggplant, the skin will be tender as well, and should remain intact as it is rich in nutrients.

Can you grow tomatoes and eggplants together?

Tomatoes and eggplants go hand in hand in the kitchen, as recipes like eggplant parmesan, bruschetta, and ratatouille all call for a pairing of the two vegetables. It’s no surprise that the two also enjoy each other’s company in the garden. Both tomatoes and eggplant are warm-season veggies that prefer warm sunny days and nights. In cool climate areas, start both seeds indoors and transplant into the garden when soil temperatures warm up to around 60 degrees F. In regions that experience mild winters without frosts, you can grow both plants as perennials and enjoy the fruits (literally!) of your labor for several years.

Can you overwater eggplant?

Eggplants need approximately one inch of water per week during the growing season, though this number can increase slightly during times of extreme heat or drought. The soil that you are growing your eggplants in should remain moist at all times. However, when the soil becomes soggy, or waterlogged, fungus and disease issues may arise and cause your crops trouble.

Eggplants do not do well when they get too much water and the soil is oversaturated. This can lead to fungal disease and, if left unchecked, the plants can develop root rot.

Can you plant eggplant deep like tomatoes?

While tomatoes and eggplants are perfect companion plants and share many common traits, especially when it comes to plant care, you cannot plant eggplant seeds deep into the soil like you do with tomato plants. Eggplant seeds should be buried just one-fourth of an inch down and covered lightly with soil.

Do bees pollinate eggplant?

Bees are the number one pollinator of eggplant flowers. Wild bees typically pollinate eggplant flowers enough to ensure an abundant eggplant crop. If you don’t get a lot of bee traffic in your garden, try to attract them by planting some flowers in your garden area that are known bee attractors.

Do eggplant flowers become fruit?

The flowers of the eggplant are not male or female, but have both male and female parts, and all eggplant flowers have the capacity to become fruit if pollinated. The fruit develops from the female part of the flower. Most eggplant varieties produce fruit that grows to around seven to ten inches when mature. Depending on the variety, most eggplants produce fruit 50 to 80 days after transplanting or 100 to 120 days after sowing seed.

Do eggplants climb?

Eggplants are not a vining plant, so they don’t need a support structure for that purpose. However, eggplants produce fruit that is quite large in size and very heavy. Without staking, the weight of the fruit would pull the plant down with it and the fruit of your plant would drag the ground. Keeping your fruit off the ground reduces the risk of disease and improves the fruit shape, especially of the longer eggplant varieties. The plant, as well as the fruit, also stays off the ground, which is important as well. Eggplants are bushy plants with large leaves and woody stems. Some varieties

Do eggplants grow back every year?

Though eggplants are grown as annuals in many climates, they are actually tropical perennials, and can live for several years in hot, humid climates, such as USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. However, just because the plant can survive for several years, does not mean that they will continue to produce ample fruit year after year. For vegetable gardeners, eggplants are grown as annuals that thrive in USDA hardiness zones five through 12, and are then replanted each year.

Do eggplants grow well in containers?

While you can’t plant just any variety of eggplant in containers as many of them will grow too large, there are small, compact types of eggplant that are well suited to the container garden. Even these varieties need enough room to grow, though, so make sure to choose a large enough container. A five-gallon bucket with drainage holes in the bottom will work well. Each eggplant you grow needs at least 12 to 14 inches of space, or three plants can grow together in a 20-inch container.

Do eggplants keep producing?

As long as you harvest the ripe eggplants, your eggplant will keep producing throughout its growing period. Depending on the region where you are gardening, the growing period will average about two months. While eggplants are often grown as annuals, they can be protected from the winter cold and grown as perennials to keep producing another year.

Do eggplants like water?

Eggplants like a moist but never soggy soil. Keep an eye on the soil to make sure that it never dries out in between waterings. It’s best to water them on average about one inch per week during the growing season. This amount may need to be increased in especially warm weather. Keep in mind, eggplants do not like standing water, so they should be watered deeply and infrequently as opposed to light waterings multiple times per week. A recommended watering method for eggplants is to thoroughly soak the soil once per week, providing enough water to reach into the soil about six inches deep. Be careful when providing these extended drinks, as overwatering your eggplants can lead to fungus and disease.

Do eggplants need a lot of sun?

Eggplants need full sun to thrive, so make sure to plant your eggplants somewhere that they will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.

Do eggplants need support?

Staking your eggplants will help prevent disease as well as fruit damage while increasing yield, so it’s a good idea to support your eggplants. Stake eggplants at the seedling stage once they have a few leaves, or when you’re transplanting seedlings into the garden. Use a stake between three eighths of an inch and one inch thick that’s between four to six feet tall. Drive the stake into the ground about an inch or two from the plant. Tomato cages also work well to support eggplants.

Do you need to rinse eggplant after salting?

Salt your eggplant by placing it in a colander and sprinkling thoroughly with salt. Don’t worry about adding too much salt, as you will be rinsing it off before you cook it. After salting, let it sit for about an hour. Before using, thoroughly rinse the eggplant and pat it dry with a paper towel. Salting your eggplant draws water out of the cells of the eggplant. As the water is pulled out, the cells collapse and the spongy structure of the eggplant weakens. Some say that salting your eggplant condenses the flesh of its fruit, making it less capable of absorbing lots of oil when it’s being cooked in it.

Do you need to soak eggplant in salt water?

To improve the flavor of their eggplant’s flesh, many cooks soak their sliced or cubed eggplant pieces in a salt water bath. To soak your eggplants in salt water, first fill a large bowl or pot with four to six quarts of cold tap water and add ¼ of kosher salt and stir well. Next, cut off both ends of your eggplant about one-half an inch deep.

Then, stand your eggplant up on one end and shave the skin off by running your knife down the length of the eggplant. Repeat until all of the skin has been removed. Next, cut your eggplant into half an inch thick slices, one inch square dice, or one fourth of an inch strips. Cut the eggplant depending on how you are going to use it. Then, put the eggplant into the bowl or pot of saltwater, submerging it completely.

Lastly, place the bowl or pot into the refrigerator for at least three hours or leave it overnight. When you are ready to use your eggplant pieces, drain it, rinse them off, and then pat them dry with a paper towel before using them in your recipe.

Do you really need to salt (or “sweat”) eggplant?

Salting, or sweating your eggplant is a technique used to tenderize the flesh and reduce the bitterness of the vegetable. It is not essential to sweat your eggplant before cooking it. In fact, many people have tried it both ways and prefer not to salt their eggplant before using it in the kitchen.

Do you salt both sides of eggplant?

When sweating your eggplant, sprinkle kosher salt by the teaspoon over all the slices, being sure to salt both sides of the slices. Set the salted, sliced eggplant into a colander and let it rest for 30 minutes. By this point, your eggplant should begin to sweat.

Do you soak eggplant seeds before planting?

Soaking your eggplant seeds before you plant them can help increase their rate of successful germination. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours just before you plan to plant them.

Does Chinese eggplant taste different from regular eggplant?

As chinese eggplant has less seeds than traditional eggplant, it is no surprise that the chinese variety is less bitter than the typical eggplant. Chinese eggplant is considered to have the most delicate flavor of all eggplant varieties, and its flavor is described as mild and sweet. Regular eggplant is considered less flavorful than Chinese eggplant as well.

How big do “patio” eggplants grow?

Patio baby eggplants are a great choice for container gardening. The plants grow 16 to 20 inches tall, producing deep-purple, egg-shaped fruits which should be harvested when they are two to three inches long. Patio baby eggplants are delicious roasted or in dips and salads.

How big do white eggplants get?

White eggplants are mature and ready to be picked when they’re between two and six inches in diameter.

How big does a mini eggplant get?

Mini eggplants are ready for harvest when they are four inches long. The miniature variety of the eggplant is a great choice for container gardens, as the small, four inch fruits develop on compact, high-yielding plants that are well suited to containers.

How can you tell if an eggplant is ripe?

Eggplants should be harvested as soon as they are ripe, as even the slightly immature eggplants are considered to be the best tasting fruits that the plant can produce. To tell if eggplants are ripe, look out for a glossy coating on the fruit, which is a sign that they are ready for harvest. Another easy way to determine if they are ripe is to give the fruits a gentle squeeze. If you squeeze the fruit and then release, the skin should immediately bounce back if the fruit is ripe. If it doesn’t bounce back and leave small indentations where you squeezed it, it is not quite ripe yet.

How deep do eggplant roots grow?

Most of the root system of an eggplant is in the top 18 inches of the soil, but their roots do extend deeper than that—between 36 and 48 inches.

How do I know when eggplant is ready to pick?

Harvest your eggplants when they’re young, while the skin is still bright and shiny. If you allow them to stay on the vine until the skin grows dull, they are likely to become bitter. This may mean you’re harvesting smaller eggplants, but they’ll taste better. Eggplants are ready to harvest when the fruits are firm, with cream-colored flesh and invisible seeds. You may need to cut into a sample eggplant to check the seed size and flesh color so you know when yours are ready to pick.

How do you fertilize eggplant?

Eggplants require moderate amounts of fertilizer. Mix one or two inches of well-rotted manure or general fertilizer such as a 5-10-10 throughout the planting bed about a week before planting. Use two to three pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet or use 1 and ¼ pounds of 5-10-10 per 10 feet of row when spacing is 4 feet.

During the growing season, apply a balanced fertilizer twice, sidedressing when the first fruits are about the size of a quarter, using three ounces of calcium nitrate per 10 feet of row. Sidedress again about two to three weeks later.

How do you grow eggplant at home?

Once soil temperatures have reached 50 degrees F or above and all chances of frost have passed, plant eggplants 24 to 36 inches apart and stake them to prevent toppling. Select an area with plenty of sun exposure and fertile, well-draining soil. Improve soil by amending with several inches of aged compost or manure just before planting. Keep soil moist but never soggy.

Feed your eggplants regularly with a continuous release plant food. Once plants are at least six inches tall, add a one inch layer of mulch using a mulch made of organic matter such as chopped leaves or tree bark. Harvest your eggplants when the fruits stop growing and skin appears glossy. Use gardening shears to remove ripe fruit, leaving a small portion of stem attached after harvesting.

Eggplants require warm soil to produce ample fruit, so gardeners in cool weather climates may choose to plant their eggplants in large dark-colored containers. On a sunny day, soil temperatures inside black pots may be up to 10 degrees warmer than in-ground soil.

How do you grow eggplant in pots?

Using a two gallon container, fill with a high-quality, well-draining potting soil and plant only one eggplant per container. Add a balanced, slow release fertilizer at planting time and again every few weeks during the growing season, especially as your eggplants start to bloom. Before fruits start to form, stake the stems to help prevent them from toppling. Water your eggplant containers consistently and deeply, but be careful not to overwater.

How do you hand pollinate eggplant flowers?

To pollinate your eggplant flowers by hand, use an electric toothbrush, a small paint brush or q-tip, a pair of tweezers, and an electric fan. Start by assessing the flowers in the flower cluster and locate the most developed one. Most likely, it will be the flower at the bottom of the cluster. Take a hold of the eggplant vine near this flower and shake it, which will sprinkle some of the pollen around the area, simulating the movement of air or of beneficial insects. Perform this task daily if possible, or at the very least several times per week.

Next, put the head of an electric toothbrush next to the vine and turn it on, allowing the vibration from the toothbrush to help to knock the pollen loose from the flowers. Then, take a small paint brush or q-tip, insert it into the flower, and gently move it around the pistil and over the stigma to dislodge and spread around the flower’s pollen. Finally, use a pair of tweezers to remove the stamen and brush the head of the stamen against the stigma several times to dislodge the pollen. You can repeat this process on the same flower that you took the stamen from, or you can do it to a different flower to cross-pollinate the plant. Another helpful pollination trick is to use a fan to help distribute the pollen of your eggplant flowers. Place a fan in your garden or in your greenhouse and allow it to blow across your eggplant flowers. This will stimulate pollination and may improve the plant’s overall yield.

How do you increase eggplant yield?

Eggplants prefer warm soil. One way to speed up their growth is by laying down black plastic over the garden soil a few weeks before planting to help get the soil nice and warm before you plant your eggplants. You can also boost your eggplant yield and help warm up the soil by mulching around your eggplants with a dark compost. You can give your eggplants a boost by improving planting holes by mixing in two inches of compost to help hold moisture and nutrients in the soil.

Be sure to select varieties that are appropriate for your region. Before planting or transplanting, work in organic matter, such as well-aged manure or compost and make sure your eggplants are getting at least six to eight hours of full sunlight exposure each day. The more often the fruits are harvested, the greater the fruit set, so be sure to harvest eggplants daily. During flowering and fruit development, make sure that your eggplant is getting plenty of water, at least one inch per week, through rainfall, or through irrigation. Fertilize weekly with an organic water-soluble fertilizer, such as kelp emulsion, fish hydrolysate or compost tea.

How do you take care of eggplant plants?

Once soil temperatures have reached 50 degrees F or above and all chances of frost have passed, plant eggplants 24 to 36 inches apart and stake them to prevent toppling. Pick a growing location with plenty of sun exposure and fertile, well-draining soil. Improve soil by amending with several inches of aged compost or manure just before planting. Keep soil moist but never soggy, providing one inch of water per week.

Feed your eggplants regularly with a continuous release plant food. Once plants are at least six inches tall, add a one inch layer of mulch using a mulch made of organic matter such as chopped leaves or tree bark. Harvest your eggplants when the fruits stop expanding and skin starts to look glossy. Use gardening shears to remove ripe fruit, leaving a small portion of stem attached after harvesting.

How do you trim an eggplant?

Eggplants, like fellow nightshade family member tomatoes benefit from staking for support and pruning to encourage more vigorous fruit production. In fact, eggplant actually produces more fruit when pruned back regularly. Pruning eggplant can also improve the fruit quality of the plant, and decrease the plant’s susceptibility to fungus and disease. Unlike tomatoes, which are pruned down to a single stalk, eggplant should be pruned to three main branches. Prune your eggplant early so that a leaf canopy forms before fruit develops to prevent sunburning the fruit. Continue to prune your eggplant periodically throughout the growing season or severely to get the plant’s focus back on fruit productions if you notice production dropping off for a new flush of leaves and flowers.

Using a sharp, clean pair of hand shears, prune your staked eggplant to three branches. The two main branches are the main division of the plant. Leave one branch below this division. Suckers are sprouts that develop between the main stalk and a leaf node. You will want to remove all suckers from your eggplant. If allowed to grow, suckers will produce branches that are like plants themselves, each with a main stem and side branches. Place the blade of your hand shears next to the stalk and clip out the suckers one by one. After the eggplant begins to flower, clip the lower leaflets from the main branch. Removing these leaves boosts air circulation and allows light to penetrate the canopy. Continue to prune away suckers throughout the entire growing season to boost plant vigor and increase food production.

How do you water eggplant plants?

Eggplants like a moist but never waterlogged soil. Keep an eye on the soil to make sure that it never dries out in between waterings. It’s best to water them on average about one inch per week during the growing season. This amount may need to be increased in especially warm weather.

Keep in mind, eggplants do not like standing water, so they should be watered deeply and infrequently as opposed to light waterings multiple times per week. A recommended watering method for eggplants is to thoroughly soak the soil once per week, providing enough water to reach into the soil about six inches deep each time. Be careful when providing these extended drinks though, as overwatering your eggplants can lead to fungus and disease.

How long does an eggplant last?

Like most vegetables, fresh eggplant doesn’t last very long. If stored at room temperature, they will keep three to five days. If kept in the fridge, they will last for seven to 10 days.

How long does it take for eggplant to grow after flowering?

Depending on the variety and the region in which you are gardening, different cultivars of eggplant will develop mature fruit within 50 to 80 days after flowering.

How long does it take to grow an eggplant?

On average, eggplants take between 100 and 120 days to go from seed to maturity. However, you can select varieties that mature faster. Making sure your eggplant is well cared for and has ideal growing conditions can also help it mature faster.

How many eggplants do you get per plant?

On average, an eggplant plant that is properly cared for can be counted on to produce about five pounds of eggplant in its two-month production period. Different varieties of eggplant can have slightly different estimated yields, so refer to your seed packet for details on the type of eggplant you’re growing in your garden.

How many times can you harvest eggplant?

Eggplants can be harvested 2-3 times per growing season, depending on the climate in the area where they are being grown. The amount of eggplants that each plant can produce varies greatly depending on variety selection and the climate in your area. In cooler climate areas, expect smaller harvests. Eggplants need lots of heat and extended daylight hours to do their best. In areas where temperatures reach into the 90’s, eggplants are able to thrive. In areas where temperatures never reach into the 90’s, expect to see lower yields.

How much space do eggplants need?

When you’re planting eggplants, position the plants 18 to 30 inches apart. If you will be growing eggplant in rows, the rows should be 30 to 36 inches apart.

How often do eggplants need to be watered?

Eggplants need to receive two inches of water each week during their growing season, either via rainfall or from the gardener. When the weather is hot and dry, the plants are likely to need more water than an inch per week. In hot weather, water the plants twice a week to a depth of 12 inches. Watch your plant for signals that it needs more hydration, such as wilting foliage and curling leaves. Water eggplants early in the morning or in the cool of the evening. If you find your eggplant is needing to be watered frequently or you’re having trouble keeping the soil moist enough, adding a one-inch layer of mulch (being careful not to let mulch touch the plant stems) can help the soil retain moisture.

How often should you fertilize eggplant?

Eggplants require moderate amounts of fertilizer. Mix one or two inches of well-rotted manure or general fertilizer such as a 5-10-10 throughout the planting bed about a week before planting. Use two to three pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet or use 1 and ¼ pounds of 5-10-10 per 10 feet of row when spacing is 4 feet.

During the growing season, apply a balanced fertilizer twice, sidedressing when the first fruits are about the size of a quarter, using three ounces of calcium nitrate per 10 feet of row. Sidedress again about two to three weeks later.

How tall do eggplants grow?

Eggplants that are grown as perennials and receive proper care can reach heights up to eight feet tall, but this is uncommon. On average, eggplants usually grow between two and four feet tall.

Is eggplant a bush or a vine?

When eggplants get enough sun and their soil has plenty of drainage, they grow into plants that are tall and bushy. However, the heaviness of the fruits can cause the stems of the plant to lay along the ground, giving them the appearance of vines.

Is eggplant still good if it’s brown inside?

Eggplant flesh will have tan to brown colored spots around the seeds. This coloration is totally natural and is not a sign that your eggplant has started to go bad. However, if the flesh is more brown than white, your eggplant may be spoiling.

Is it hard to grow eggplant?

In warm climate areas, growing eggplant is a very easy process. As long as you provide eggplants with the appropriate nutrients, water, and sunlight, growing eggplants is a fairly easy task.

Is it OK to eat green eggplant?

If you mistakenly planted a green eggplant cultivar, it is certainly safe to eat the green fruit. If your eggplants are green because you harvested them while they were still young and slightly immature, they will not only be edible, but also tender and extra flavorful.

Should eggplant be peeled?

While eggplant skin is certainly edible, the skin of older and larger eggplants starts to become bitter and should be peeled before using in the kitchen.

Should I prune eggplant plants?

When eggplants are grown as annuals, pruning is generally not needed. But if you protect your eggplants from the cold and grow them as perennials, they’ll benefit from some pruning as they get larger. The best time to prune an eggplant is after its fruiting cycle has ended. When you’re pruning, always use clean, sterilized shears to avoid spreading disease in your garden.

Aim for the plant to have three main stems: leave the first two that fork off from the base of the plant and one other large, strong stem. All other stems should be removed. (Don’t worry if this seems drastic—they will grow back.)

Also remove all suckers, which are the little stems that grow from the base of the plant and places where the branches meet the vine. As with tomato plants, pinching off these suckers when they’ve first emerged and are still small will help your eggplant focus its energy and resources on developing productive parts of the plant.

Should you remove eggplant seeds?

When you grow your own eggplants, the seeds they contain should be practically invisible and soft, with no need to remove them before you cook the eggplant. However, if you notice that the seeds are brown, remove them using a spoon before you prepare the eggplant.

What colors do eggplants come in?

Eggplants come in many different colors, especially on the exterior. The most common eggplant colors are dark purple, bright purple, white, green, and pink.

What is a good companion plant for eggplant?

The best companion plants for eggplant are peppers, potatoes, and spinach.

What is the best fertilizer for eggplants?

Feed eggplants by using plenty of well rotted compost mixed into your soil as well as applying fertilizer. Types of fertilizer that work well for eggplants include 15-5-10 blends, blood meal, well rotted manure, cottonseed meal, and bat guano. Apply about two or three pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet of soil.

What kind of soil do eggplants like?

Eggplants grow best in a well-drained sandy-loam or loam soil that is high in organic matter. Soil pH should be between 5.8 and 6.5 for optimal growth.

What month do you plant eggplant?

Which month you should plant eggplant will vary depending on the region where you are gardening. Six weeks before the last frost of spring, eggplant seeds should be started indoors. This should be about two weeks after starting pepper and tomato seeds.

What should you not plant next to eggplant?

Almost all plants make good companion plants for eggplant. However, you should not plant eggplants near where fennel grows. Also avoid planting eggplant near potatoes, as both crops can attract Colorado potato beetles. In fact, you may wish to avoid growing eggplants near any other nightshade crops, which in addition to potatoes include tomatoes and peppers. Nightshade plants are susceptible to the same plant diseases and share several of the same insect pests. If you do grow tomatoes near your eggplant, make sure the tomato plants aren’t positioned where they will shade the eggplant plants.

What size container is needed for eggplant?

Eggplants need a container that has a diameter of at least 12 to 14 inches in order to grow healthy and strong. Three eggplants can share a container with a 20-inch diameter. A five-gallon bucket with drainage holes added is a good container for eggplants, providing plenty of room for their extensive root network.

Eggplant Growing Reference Chart

CategoryEggplant
Plant TypeAnnual
Plant FamilySolanaceae (Nightshade family)
Native ToIndia and Southeast Asia
Scientific NameSolanum melongena
Common NameEggplant, Aubergine, Brinjal, Guinea Squash
USDA Hardiness ZoneGrown as an annual in most climates; best in USDA zones 4-11
Germination Time7-14 days
Days to Maturity65-90 days, depending on the variety
Sun RequirementsFull sun (6-8 hours per day)
Planting RequirementsTransplant seedlings outdoors after last frost. Use black plastic mulch to warm soil.
Planting Spacing24-36 inches (60-90 cm) apart
Plant Height and Width24-48 inches (60-120 cm) tall, 24-36 inches (60-90 cm) wide
Growth HabitBushy, spreading
Water RequirementsModerate; keep soil consistently moist
Growing DifficultyModerate
Common PestsLeafminers, flea beetles, aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, tomato pinworm, stinkbugs
Common DiseasesVerticillium wilt, Fusarium wilt, early blight, powdery mildew, blossom end rot, ercospora leaf spot
Soil RequirementsWell-drained, loamy soil
Soil pH6.0-6.8
Soil DrainingWell-draining
Fertilizer RequirementsBalanced, slow-release fertilizer at planting; side-dress with nitrogen after fruiting begins
Pruning and TrainingStake or cage plants; prune lower leaves and any non-fruiting branches
Companion PlantsBeans, peas, lettuce, radishes, marigolds, nasturtiums, tarragon, peppers, thyme, lavender, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, sage, catnip, sunflowers, borage, potatoes, mint, Swiss chard, tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, snapdragons, kohlrabi,
Popular Cultivar Varieties‘Black Beauty’, ‘Ichiban’, ‘Rosa Bianca’, ‘Hansel’, ‘Gretel’
Attracts Pollinatorsbees
Planting CalendarStart seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost; transplant outdoors after last frost
Cool Season or Warm Season CropWarm season crop
Harvesting and StorageHarvest when skin is glossy and firm; store at 50°F (10°C), avoid refrigeration

Want more information about growing eggplants?

Every state has a cooperative extension service, which is an ideal source of information for growing eggplants in your climate and location. Find the extension office nearest you through the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

In addition, be sure to check out these articles on eggplants:

The Growing Eggplant in the Home Garden has lots of information available from Ohio Cooperative Extension.

The Eggplant is also a great resource for help and tips from Illinois Cooperative Extension.

Related

Growing Eggplants from Seedlings to Harvest (2024)
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