Eggplant is a type of edible fruit that belongs to the nightshade family (Solanaceae). Also called aubergine and brinjal in other Countries. They are native to South Asia and are widely cultivated in gardens around the world.
They are typically pear-shaped or elongated and range in size. The most common eggplants have glossy, deep purple skin. With spongy, white flesh. Other eggplant varieties are white, striped, green, or yellow-skinned.
Eggplants are warm-season vegetables normally grown in backyard gardens or containers. By following the tips below, you can successfully grow healthy, delicious eggplants.
The best soil to grow eggplants is well-draining, fertile soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. It’s a good idea to add compost to improve soil fertility.
Eggplants are generally considered to be moderate to heavy water users. But they can also be sensitive to fluctuations in soil moisture. So, check the soil moisture level often and water as needed.
It is best to water eggplants consistently and deeply. Provide about 1 inch of water per week to thoroughly wet the root zone. But water around the base of the plant to avoid getting the leaves wet. As this will decrease the chances of fungal diseases developing.
Pay close attention during fruiting, as too little water can cause stunted or misshapen fruit. Mulching around your eggplants with help suppress weeds and retain moisture.
Eggplants should be planted in a location that receives direct sunlight. Eggplants grow best when they receive 6-8 hours of sunlight.
Eggplants thrive in warm temperatures, between 70°F and 85°F (21°C -29°C ). If temperatures rise above 95°F, they stop setting fruit, and blossom drop can occur. When temperatures fall below 60°F fruit set is also reduced.
Eggplants are heavy feeders and benefit from regular fertilizing. Before planting mix in a balanced fertilizer with an NPK of 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 into the soil. Once plants are established, fertilize them every 2-4 weeks during the growing season.
When plants start to fruit, you want to avoid using too much nitrogen. As this will encourage the growth of foliage instead of fruit production.
Diseases & Pests
Several diseases and pests are common when growing eggplants. Some of the diseases are fusarium wilt, bacterial wilt, verticillium wilt, and powdery mildew. Most are fungal diseases, watering at the base of the plants and adding mulch can help avoid them. As well as crop rotation if diseases become an issue.
Pests include aphids, cutworms, flea beetles, and tomato fruitworms. There are many organic pesticide options to eliminate these pests.
Days to maturity
Depending on the variety, eggplants can take 60 to 75 days to mature from seedlings. From seed, add another 21 to 28 days. However, environmental factors like soil fertility and temperature can also affect the time to maturity.
How to Grow Eggplant from Seed
Start your seeds indoors about 8-10 weeks before the last frost in your area. You can follow these steps:
- Fill a pot, container, or seed tray with a moist seed starting mix.
- Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and cover them lightly with soil and mist them with water.
- Place the seed tray or pot in a warm, sunny spot with temperatures around 70°F-75°F to germinate. Keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged, until seedlings emerge.
- After all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up, transplant the seedlings into the garden. You can also harden off the seedlings first. By exposing them to the outdoor elements a few hours a day for a week or two.
Types of Eggplants
There are many types of eggplants commonly grown in gardens. They vary in shape, size, and color. Here are five varieties:
Japanese eggplants are also known as nasu or nasubi. They are normally long and slender, with dark purple skin. Almost black which is smooth and glossy.
Thai eggplants are small, round, or oval-shaped and about the size of a golf ball. They have thin but smooth skin and are green, white, purple, or yellow.
Indian eggplants are small, oval, or round and come in a variety of colors. From purple, green, reddish-purple, and purple with white streaks or strips.
Globe eggplant is a variety that is round or oval and has smooth, glossy purple skin.
White eggplants are also known as ivory, Casper, or ghost eggplants. They have similar shapes and sizes to other varieties of eggplants. With white or pale cream-colored skin and white or pale yellow flesh.
Eggplant Companion Plants
Some beneficial companion plants for eggplant include:
Tomatoes grow well with eggplants and can provide shade for eggplants. Helps keep them cooler in hot climates.
Marigolds are a popular companion plant in the garden for deterring pests. They help deter nematodes from attacking the roots of eggplants.
Borage can help deter tomato hornworms that also feed on eggplant foliage. Its blue flowers attract pollinators to the garden. Helping to pollinate and increasing yields.
Radishes make good companion plants for eggplants. Because they have different nutrient needs and help deter pests. Such as flea beetles and cucumber beetles.
Other beneficial plants are garlic, basil, nasturtium, and thyme.
 University of Georgia. (2022, June 21) Home Garden Eggplant. UGA Cooperative Extension. Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C1028