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Growing Eggplant

Category Vegetables
A delicious vegetable that likes to be pampered. This guide is about growing eggplant.
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Solutions

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0 found this helpful
September 15, 2009

If you've ever tried and failed to grow eggplants, don't feel bad. You're not alone. Eggplants like to be pampered. These divas of the vegetable garden have a very low tolerance for stress, so unless your garden is in the perfect zone, growing them successfully is going to require a little bit more of your time and attention than usual.
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Give Them Plenty of Time

If you're growing eggplants from seed, you'll want to give them a big headstart by starting them indoors (unless you live in a hot and humid zone with a long growing season). Sow seeds from 8 to 10 weeks before your last spring frost date.

Most cultivars need at least 100 to 150 days of warm weather to produce, so gardeners in cooler zones (like zones 3 and 4) need to look for early producing varieties that mature in 60-70 days. Ichiban and Dusky are two good examples.

Give Them Plenty of Heat

Don't rush transplants (or bedding plants) into the garden. Make sure the air AND soil temperatures are consistently in the 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) range first. If necessary, use black plastic to prewarm the soil in cooler zones.

Eggplants need temperatures of approximately 75-85 degrees F (25-30 degrees C) to produce. Growth is stalled below 68 degrees F (20 degrees C) and may permanently stop if exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) for any length of time. Placing dark colored rocks or bricks around the base of the plant can help retain the heat of the sun while plants are young.

Pollination can only occur during warm nighttime temperatures. Watch the weather. If temperatures are predicted to dip below 60 degrees F, you may want to cover your plants to avoid flower drop. Eggplants are self-pollinating, so hoop houses and row covers can be used from planting until harvest. Just make sure if you use plastic to remove it during the day to avoid cooking the plants.

Give Them Plenty of Food and Water

Start with soil that is rich in organic matter, well-drained, and warm. Use a rich multipurpose potting soil for containers.

Eggplants become stressed with too much or too little water. Try to keep the soil as evenly moist as possible through the season.

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They like small amounts of food all season long. Too much nitrogen will produce lots of foliage but not much in the way of fruits. Feed plants with a diluted liquid fish emulsion weekly until flowers appear. Container plants should be fed a high pot-ash organic liquid fertilizer once fruit starts to set.

Offer Them Plenty of Protection

Control insect infestations and diseases promptly.

Eggplants appreciate a site that is warm, humid, and sheltered from the wind. Hoop houses, greenhouses, or row covers are good choices for keeping out cool temperatures, damaging winds and insects like flea beetles, while retaining the heat and humidity. If you use plastic row covers cut ample slits along the sides for ventilation and make sure to remove them during the heat of the day.

Tall plants should be staked to support the weight of growing fruit.

Enjoy The Fruits of Your Labor

With a bit of luck and a lot of pampering, you should be able to harvest your eggplants when they reach the desired size. Keep in mind you'll get larger fruits by allowing only 4 to 6 to grow on a plant. Harvest the fruits while the skin is still glossy. Dull skin means the fruit has passed its prime.

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Comment Was this helpful? Yes
September 24, 20090 found this helpful

Thank you Ellen! How timely. I went online today to see if I could find out what was stunting my eggplants this year. I've never had a problem before but this year they have really struggled. I'm in the midwest and we had one of the coolest and wettest summers on record. I think I have it figured out now and I love your tips. I will be more prepared to give my plants what they need next year. Thanks again!

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0 found this helpful
April 16, 2006

Botanical Name:

Solanum melongena var. esculentum

Description:

Eggplants are related to tomatoes and potatoes. They are technically not a vegetable, but a fruit-specifically a berry. Eggplants grow on bushes and are from 2 to 12 inches long and dark purple to white in color.
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Planting Time:

Eggplants need a long growing season with warm temperature and warm soil. Seeds should be started indoors at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to your last frost date, or sown outdoors when soil temperatures reach 60ºF and air temperatures stay at 70ºF.

Exposure:

full sun

Soil:

well-drained, nutrient-rich soil with a pH of 6.7 to 7.2.

Planting:

Seeds should be planted in warm soil (70º to 85ºF is ideas) to a depth of 1/2 inch in rows 24 to 36 inches apart. When true leaves appear, seedlings should be transferred to individual pots (if sown indoors) or thinned to 18 to 24 inches apart. Seeds can be soaked in water or compost tea before planting to speed up germination.

Watering:

Eggplants are somewhat drought tolerant and should not be over watered. Keep soil evenly moist, but not wet. Water regularly when flowers appear and while fruit is developing.

Maintenance:

Plants are heavy feeders and appreciate occasional, light applications of manure, compost tea or fish fertilizer throughout the growing season. If starting with soil heavy in nutrients, fertilize sparingly. Plants can become top heavy so provide supports as necessary.

Harvesting & Storage:

Harvest fruit when their skins turn glossy. Plants taste best when harvested at 1/3 of their mature size. Frequent harvesting will keep plants productive. Eggplants can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Diseases and Pests:

A wide variety of insects find eggplants very appealing, and transplants should be treated with an organic insecticide before planting.

Tips to Success:

The key to growing eggplants successfully is warm soil and warm temperatures.
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Comment Was this helpful? Yes

2 found this helpful
April 28, 2016

large plant

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? 2

A few years back, I decided to plant an enormous organic garden. Planting salad, cucumbers, and tomatoes weren't so difficult. I had never planted eggplants before. In March when I was buying the seeds for the organic garden, I chose a package of Black Beauty eggplant seeds. I started the seeds in starter trays.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

1 found this helpful
May 27, 2010

I want to grow Black Beauty eggplants in pots. Do I need to prune the bottom or the little leaves off two weeks after planting? The two bottom leaves are yellow and there are a lot of little buds coming up on the sides. Please help.

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By Grifft from Levittown, NY

Answer Was this helpful? 1
May 27, 20100 found this helpful

Go to-how to grow eggplants in pots-lot of info there, good luck.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

0 found this helpful
March 14, 2007

My fiances grandfather died and we got his eggplant to put in the ground. Since we've transplanted it, it continuously flowers but I cannot get it to bear fruit. It's been in the ground for about a month now. It is in direct sunlight as directed and is watered infrequently. The plant looks healthy overall and all of my other vegetables are doing magnificent, but this one is frustrating me to NO avail. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Hardiness Zone: 10b

Jillian from Jupiter, FL

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
March 18, 20070 found this helpful

You might try pollinating the flowers with a feather. Just touch each flower lightly inside to transfer pollen from one blossom to the next. I've heard that the bee population is way down this year, so this may work as a substitute for the bees.

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Photos

Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photos. Click at right to share your own photo in this guide.

August 12, 2016

Photo Description
The weather has been great this summer for gardening. This is the first of a lot of eggplants to enjoy.

Photo Location
Long Island, NY

Comment Like this photo? 2
August 13, 20162 found this helpful

Eggplants are awesome! I like to grow Spaghetti Squash also!

Reply Like this photo? 2

July 15, 2016

Photo Description
I planted three eggplants. This is the first flower. Judging from the number of flowers, I'm going to have lots of eggplants this season!

Photo Location
Long Island, NY

Comment Like this photo? 1
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