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How to Grow Eggplant

Grow eggplant in the warmest, frost-free time of the year.

Grow eggplantEggplant is a very tender perennial grown as an annual. Grow eggplant in the warmest, frost-free time of the year.

  • Eggplant requires 100 to 140 warm days with temperatures consistently between 70° and 90°F (21-32°C) to reach harvest.
  • Eggplant is best started indoors and later transplanted into the garden; sow eggplant indoors 6 to 8 weeks before setting plants into the garden.
  • Transplant seedlings into the garden no sooner than 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost in spring.
  • Eggplants planted too early will not develop.

Starting Eggplants Indoors

  • Start eggplants from seed indoors about 8 weeks before setting seedlings in the garden.
  • Sow seed in individual containers or flats. Sow eggplant seed ¼ to ½ inch (12mm) deep spaced 4 to 5 inches (10-12cm) apart.
  • Eggplant seeds germinate in about 5 to 6 days.
  • Give seedlings started indoors 12 hours of light each day; use a grow light or fluorescent lights.
  • Start seeds on a heat mat then grow seedlings on at about 70°F (21°C).
  • Transfer seedlings to 4-inch (10cm) pots when seedlings are 3 to 4 inches  (7-10cm) tall and then into gallon containers if the weather does not allow transplanting as seedlings grow 5 to 6 inches (12-15cm) tall or taller.
  • Ahead of transplanting, lay black plastic across garden planting beds to pre-warm the soil.

More tips: Eggplant Seed Starting Tips.

Eggplant transplanted to garden
Eggplant is sensitive to cold. It grows best where day temperatures are between 80° and 90°F (26-32°C) and night temperatures between 70° and 80°F (21-26°C).

Where to Plant Eggplant

  • Grow eggplants in full sun.
  • Eggplants grow best in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Add aged compost or commercial organic planting mix to planting beds ahead of planting and turn the soil to 12 inches (30cm) deep.
  • Eggplants prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8.
  • Warm the soil in advance of planting by laying black plastic over planting beds for two weeks.

Transplanting Eggplants to the Garden

  • Transplant eggplants into the garden 2 to 3 weeks after the last spring frost.
  • Make a hole twice the width of the root ball and half again as deep. Moisten the hole before transplanting.
  • Sprinkle a 5-10-5 or 5-10-10 organic fertilizer in the bottom of the hole and cover lightly with aged compost or planting mix. Then set the seedling in place.
  • Set eggplant seedlings into the garden at the same depth they are growing in their containers.
  • Firm the soil around the root ball and gently water the plant. Create a small basin around the seedling to direct water to roots at watering time.
  • Set a stake or small tomato cage in place to support the plant as it grows. Eggplants loaded with fruit can tip or fall over; it’s best to support them.
  • Space eggplants 24 to 36 inches (61-91cm) apart. Space rows 24 to 36 inches apart.
  • Protect young plants with polyethylene row covers if days or nights are cool. Lift row covers during warm afternoons so that bees can pollinate plants.

Container Growing Eggplants

  • Eggplants are easily grown in containers.
  • Grow eggplants in pots at least 12 inches (30cm) across and as deep. Choose a smaller growing variety for container growing.
  • Be sure to keep the potting soil just moist through the season. Do not let the soil dry out.
  • Feed eggplants in containers every two to three weeks with compost tea or dilute solution of fish emulsion.
  • Container grown eggplants are easily moved out of cold weather; so you can extend the season in spring and autumn by moving plants indoors when frost threatens.

Eggplant in garden bedWatering and Feeding Eggplants

  • Eggplants are heavy feeders prepare planting beds with aged compost and side-dress eggplants with compost tea or a dilute solution of fish emulsion every 2 or 3 weeks until the fruit has set and then every 3 to 4 weeks after.
  • Eggplants require evenly moist soil to ensure the best and fastest growth. Do not allow the soil to dry out and do not overwater.
  • Set drip irrigation or a soaker hose in place after transplanting seedlings to the garden. Give plants at least 1 inch of water every week.
  • Inconsistent soil moisture can result in misshapen fruits.
  • After the soil has warmed to 70°F (21°C), mulch around eggplants to retain soil moisture and to keep down weeds.

Companion Plants for Eggplants

  • Plant eggplants with bush beans, southern peas, and nitrogen-fixing crops. Do not plant eggplant with tomatoes or corn.
Eggplant growing
Protect eggplants from an unexpected late frost. Provide protection at night until all danger of frost is past.

Caring for Eggplants

  • Protect eggplants from an unexpected late frost. Provide protection at night until all danger of frost is past. Cover plant with spun poly row covers.
  • Chilly weather and lack of moisture can inhibit pollination.
  • In hot summer climates, the soil temperature may become too warm for the roots; mulch plants about 4 weeks after setting them in the garden.
  • Where temperatures grow hot in the summer to 100°F (37°C) or greater, protect eggplants with shade covering.
  • Tall varieties and those with heavy fruit should be staked or caged.

Eggplant Pests

  • Eggplants can be attacked by cutworms, aphids, flea beetles, Colorado potato bugs, spider mites, and tomato hornworms.
  • Cutworms will be discouraged by collars set around the plants at the time of transplanting.
  • Control aphids and flea beetles by handpicking or hosing them off the plant and pinching out infested areas. Spray infestation with insecticidal soap or spinosad.
  • Spider mites can be difficult to control; use an insecticidal soap spray.
  • Handpick hornworms off the plants or spray with Bacillus thuringiensis.

Protect eggplants: Eggplant Growing Problems: Troubleshooting.

Eggplant Diseases

  • Eggplant is susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases.
  • Planting disease-resistant varieties when possible.
  • Keep the garden clean of debris.
  • Verticillium wilt can attack eggplants; spray-mist leaves with compost tea to prevent and slow fungal diseases.
  • Diseased plants should be removed immediately before the disease spreads to healthy plants.
  • Protect the plants against soil-borne disease by rotating corps; do not plant eggplant family members including tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers in the same spot two seasons in a row.
Eggplant at harvest
Eggplant Rosa Bianca

Harvesting Eggplants

  • Time from planting to harvest is 100 to 150 days from seed, 70 to 85 days from transplants.
  • Harvest eggplant young before the flesh becomes pithy.
  • Eggplants are ready for harvest when the fruit is glossy, firm, and full-colored.
  • Eggplants with no seeds are immature. Fruits with hard, dark seeds are overripe.
  • Eggplants that are under or overripe will be bitter tasting.
  • Cut eggplants from the stem with a pruning shear or sharp knife. Leave a short stub of stem attached to the fruit.

Harvest tips: How to Harvest and Store Eggplant.

Storing and Preserving Eggplants

  • Eggplants will keep in a well-ventilated place for up to 1 week at 50°F (10°C) or slightly warmer.
  • It is best not to refrigerate eggplant but if you do wrap the fruit in plastic to prevent cold burn. Do not wash or cut eggplants before refrigerating.
  • Eggplant can be frozen or dried.
Grow Black Beauty eggplant in warm weather.
Black Beauty is a classic eggplant with glossy black, bell-shaped fruit 4 to 6 inches long.

Eggplant Varieties to Grow

Four classic eggplant varieties to grow are:

  • Black Beauty: grows glossy black, bell-shaped fruit 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm) long.
  • Ichiban: grow slim, deep purple fruits 6 inches (15cm) plus long.
  • Little Fingers: small, dark purple fruits, 3 to 4 inches (7-10cm) long.
  • Easter Egg: small pastel yellow or orange fruits the size of an egg.

Here’s a full list of eggplant varieties to grow:

  • Bell-shaped eggplant: Black Beauty (73-80 days); Black Bell (68 days); Blacknite (61 days); Imperial Black Beauty (80 days).
  • Long, cylindrical eggplant: Agora (68 days); Dusky (61 days); Ichiban (60 days); Millionaire (55 days); Osaka Honnoga (65 days); Slim Jim (65 days); Tycoon (54 days); Vernal (70 days); Violetta di Firenze (65 days); Vittoria (61 days).
  • Small eggplants: Bambino (45 days); Mini Fingers (68 days).
  • Non-purple eggplants: Alba (60 days); Casper (70 days); Easter Egg (60 days); Italian Pink (75 days); Listada de Gandia (75 days); Louisiana Long Green (100 days); Osterei (80 days); Rosa Bianca (75 days); Turkish Italian Orange (85 days); White Beauty (70 days).

Learn more at: Eggplant Varieties–Short, Mid, and Long Season and Eggplant Varieties: Best Bets and Easy to Grow.

About Eggplants

  • Eggplant is a small- to medium-size bush vegetable that produces smooth, glossy-skinned fruit that can vary in length from 5 to 12 inches (12-30cm) long.
  • Eggplants have large, fuzzy, grayish-green leaves and produce star-shaped lavender flowers with yellow centers.
  • The edible fruit can be long and slender or round or egg-shaped fruit. The fruit is creamy-white, yellow, brown, purple, or sometimes almost black.
  • Eggplants can grow 2 to 6 feet tall (.6-1.8m), depending on the variety.
  • Eggplant Yield. Plant 1 to 2 eggplants per household member.
  • Common name: Eggplant, aubergine, guinea squash
  • Botanical name: Solanum melongena
  • Origin: East Indies, India

More tips: Eggplant Growing.

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42 Comments

    • Yes. You can grow almost any crop in a greenhouse. Simply adjust your greenhouse for temperature and light. See the article on growing eggplants (go to the Topics Index).

    • I live in the mountains of Wales UK the egg plant I’m trying to groe are the green fruit and looks like eyeballs. They are in green house in the ground and in pot. Have a mass off flowers but will not fruit I have tried pollination but the pollen does not seem to be there or the pollen is not loose and falling so can’t pollan ate. Any ideas please ty

    • Trim a quarter inch from each end of the eggplant; peel away the skin with a vegetable peeler; slice the fruit into 1/3 inch slices; blanch the slices in boiling water (4 minutes or less)–add a few drops of lemon juice to prevent the slices from darkening; remove the eggplant from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place it immediately in a ice cold water bath until the slices are cold (about 5 minutes); remove from the water and allow the slice to completely dry; place the slices in a ziploc plastic bag and remove as much air as you can (or vacuum seal); place the bags in the freezer immediately.

  1. We have beautiful eggplants full of lavender flowers. Only one eggplant all summer. Grown in full sun. Why are we not getting any “fruit”????

    • Eggplants are very sensitive to stress; there are several reasons fruit may not form: cold temperatures–night temperatures below 68F; high temperatures greater than 85F; water stress–the soil went dry or was too wet. Eggplants have complete flowers which means they can self-pollinate; however, a breeze or a gentle shake of the plant during flowering will greatly assist in the pollination process. If you are getting plenty of flowers, but no fruit then give the plants a gentle shake when in flower. If you are getting no or very few flowers, then stress is the likely cause.

  2. dear sir.
    my eggplant land various problem please help me and give me more tips
    please give your contract number or you call me this number +8801776688156(Amir)

      • Eggplant stages of growth are (1) seed to germination in about 7 to 14 days; (2) seedling–growing to transplant size, usually 6 to 10 weeks; (3) adult plant; (4) flowering and fruit set; (5) fruit development to ripe; (6) harvest. From transplanting to harvest will take 70 to about 120 days depending upon the variety; keep in mind that this does not include the number of days for germination and does not include the number of days for the plant to reach transplant size. The conventional measurement for days to maturity for eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes is from transplant date to harvest.

    • The eggplant is a perennial in its native India; a perennial eggplant can grow for several years. In temperate regions of the world, the eggplant is grown as an annual. If temperatures remain above 55F, an eggplant can grow from seed to harvest in 16 to 24 weeks.

  3. Something has been eating my eggplant blossoms for the last two seasons. I don’t know if it is an animal or a bird. Never had a problem previously. This year I’ve put them in a container hopefully out of reach of little critters. Any suggestions?

    • To keep birds and animals away from eggplant blossoms and fruit try draping bird netting over the plants. You place stakes at the corners or edges of the planting bed then drape the bird netting over the top. You can also let the netting simply “float” over the plants– just tuck the edges in to keep critters out. If blossoms continue to disappear, the problem could be beetles or other pest insects. You can place sticky traps near the plants to catch pest insects.

  4. I have 4 eggplants which I believe suffered over three nights of temperatures off low 50’s. They appear to have stopped growing and lower leaves are yellow. Will they make a come back or should I replace them?
    Thank you in advance for your reply.

    • Cold and even cool temperatures will set back tender crops such as eggplants and peppers. Your eggplants my make a comeback but the stress of the cold nights may have stressed them to the point that their future growth may be stunted. Leaves your eggplants in place but set out some new eggplants as well. You can compare the rate of growth and fruit yield later in the summer. Keep floating row covers nearby to cover plants whenever night temperatures drop below 65F. Eggplants are finicky but worth the effort.

  5. Hello, I’m growing baby eggplant
    In a pot on patio.
    A few of the eggplants went from purple to yellow. I have read that it’s over ripe is that true? Can I eat them?

    • No matter the size of the fruits on an eggplant harvest when the fruit turns from a dull color to a glossy color. Glossy is an indication the fruit is ripe and ready for harvest. Fruit that yellows will be very seedy and can be very bitter tasting. If you are growing an open-pollinated variety–not a hybrid–you can harvest the seeds from a yellow fruit, dry them, and plant them next season.

    • You can direct sow eggplants in the garden if you have a long, warm growing season. Eggplants will require 130 to 180 warm growing days from seed sowing to harvest, depending on the variety. The soil temperature should be about 70F when you sow the seed and the air temperature should be between 70 and 90 during the growing season.

    • Feed eggplants a balanced organic fertilizer such as 5-5-5 until they begin to flower. Once flowering begins switch to a high phosphorus and potassium blend such as 5-10-10. Most fertilizers formulated for tomatoes are a good choice for eggplants. Follow the directions on the package.

  6. Our eggplant, black beauty, is incredible with over 20 fruits on it now. Some are over 12 inches and most are 3-6 inches and seem to have stopped getting larger. We have harvested 3-4 of the biggest ones so far. Wondering why the rest do not seem to be getting bigger.

  7. We are growing an eggplant in a container on the deck. Seems to me the fruits that are coming are going to touch the soil – should we somehow support the ‘fruit’ and this would also prevent the fruit from bending the plant. We have stalked it but the fruit are coming fast and furious….do we make some kind of hammock to support the fruits?

    • CAN (calcium ammonium nitrate) is very high in nitrogen–more than 25 percent; high nitrogen fertilizers will result in foliage growth but can suppress fruit growth; use a low nitrogen higher phosphorus and potassium fertilizer.

    • Tomatoes and eggplants have perfect flowers–meaning each flower contains the male and female parts–so both are self-pollinating; they are not dependent on insects; wind is helpful because wind jostles the flower causing the pollen to drop from the male to female part of the flower.

    • If the flowers do not self-pollinate there will be no fruit. If the weather is dry or wet, the pollen may not fall to the female part of the flower. If the weather is in the 70sF or low 80sF, give the flower trusses a gentle shake when the flowers open, this will help the pollen to fall.

    • You can use a light bamboo stake and tie the plant gently to the stake with garden twine or set a small tomato cage around the plant. We use tomato cages–which protect the plant from being jostled by passing humans, dogs, and cats.

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