Eggplants grow best in the garden when the soil temperature and daytime air temperature is at least 70°F and the night temperature is greater than 60°F. There is no reward for setting eggplant seedlings outdoors when temperatures are cooler—they will only suffer.
Grow an eggplant variety suited to the number of days in your region that can match the soil and air temperatures eggplants demand. Choose a short-season eggplant if the number of consecutive days of very warm temperatures is less than 70; choose a mid-season eggplant if very warm temperatures do not exceed 80 consecutive days; choose a long season eggplant if you have a long and warm growing season. If your growing season is long, you can plant both short-, mid-, and long-season eggplants for early and late harvests or a succession of harvests of differing varieties.
Starting eggplants. Eggplants are commonly set in the garden as transplants; start seed indoors 8 to 12 weeks before you plan to set plants out in the garden, or buy eggplants starts—already 8 weeks old or more–ready for transplanting from a garden center.
Feeding eggplants. Wait to feed eggplants until after they have flowered and set fruit; earlier feeding will only boost leaf growth, not fruit growth. After fruit set, simply feed eggplants with a side-dressing of aged steer manure or aged compost, or spray them with fish emulsion. Feeding eggplants before fruit set will delay the harvest.
Watering eggplants. Eggplants do not demand as much water as peppers and tomatoes. Water eggplant seedlings early to establish roots, but when plants flower and set fruit a deep watering once a week is sufficient. Eggplants are drought tolerant; too much water can hinder fruit development. In very hot regions, mulch eggplants to keep roots from overheating.
Harvesting eggplants. For the best flavor, pick eggplants early, young and tender. ‘Baby’ eggplants are sweeter tasting that mature eggplants. Pick fruits when the skins are glossy and shiny; an overripe eggplant has a dull skin. Overripe eggplant will be seedy and bitter tasting. The easiest way to harvest eggplant is to use a pruning shear; cut the fruit away with a little bit of stem attached to the fruit.
Short-Season Eggplants (60-70 days to maturity)
- Applegreen: Light green, tender midsize fruit; very productive; good in cooler gardens. Open-pollinated.
- Asian Bride: Six-inch white streaked with lavender fruits; very tender. Hybrid.
- Bambino: One-inch fruits dark purple fruits; plant to 15 inches tall. Hybrid.
- Diamond: Dark violet fruit to 8 inches long and 3 inches wide; great flavor and texture, never bitter; tolerates cool and rain. Open-pollinated.
- Ichibahn: Slender, dark purple fruits, very productive, with few seeds. Hybrid.
- Little Fingers: Finger length, chubby fruits; tolerates verticillium. Open-pollinated.
- Morden Midget: Dark purple fruits, 8 inches long; tolerates cool weather. Open-pollinated.
- Neon: Neon pink fruit; disease tolerant. Hybrid.
- No. 226: Small eggplant, about 3 inches round. Hybrid.
- Orient Express: Deep purple-black fruit, 10 inches long; tolerates heat and cold. Hybrid.
- Pingtung Long: Dark lavender fruit to 10 inches long; high yield and disease resistant. Open-pollinated.
- Purple Blush: Lavender and white fruit, 6 inches long; sweet and tender. Hybrid.
- Purple Rain: Pink and white striped fruit, 6 inches long. Hybrid.
- Vittoria: Classic, dark purple, cylindrical fruit, Italian type; tolerates heat. Hybrid.
Mid-Season Eggplants (70-80 days to maturity)
- Black Beauty: Large, black meaty fruits; small yield. Open-pollinated.
- Casper: Snow-white fruit to 6 inches; compact plant; mild tasting. Open-pollinated.
- Cloud Nine: Snow-white, medium-sized fruit; mild, non-bitter flavor. Hybrid.
- Rosa Bianca: White fruit striped with lavender; compact grower. Open-pollinated.
- Thai Green: Long, slender, green fruit; heat- and moisture-tolerant. Open-pollinated.
- Violetta Lunga: Bright purple fruits to 8 inches long. Open-pollinated.
Long-Season Eggplants (80-100 days to maturity)
- Blush Eggplant: Creamy white with light lavender blush; long and cylindrical; use for slicing and stuffing. Open-pollinated.
- Listada de Gandia: Violet fruit with irregular white streaks, 5 inches long; grows well in high heat; drought tolerant. Open-pollinated.
- Louisiana Long Green: Banana-shaped, light green fruit with creamy stripes; tolerate heat. Open-pollinated.
- Rosa Bianca: Creamy color with pink-purple striping; sweet, mild flavor. Open-pollinated.
- Turkish Orange: Eat before fruits turn orange, tolerates heat, cold, and flea beetles. Open-pollinated.
More tips at How to Grow Eggplant.