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Eggplant

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Botanical name: Solanum melongena

Plant type: Vegetable

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Sandy

Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral

Eggplants are short-lived perennial vegetables, but are usually cultivated as annuals. Also known as aubergines, eggplants differ mainly in size, shape and color of the fruits. Eggplants are tropical and subtropical, requiring relatively high temperatures. Related crop include tomatoes, potatoes and peppers.

Planting

  • Start plants indoors 2 months before the soil warms up or buy nursery transplants just before planting.
  • Place 3 to 4 inch tall seedlings 24 to 30 inches apart in well-prepared beds.
  • Pinch out the terminal growing points for a bushier plant.

Care

  • Stake plants over 24 inches tall.
  • Water well and apply a balanced fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.
  • For bigger fruits, restrict to five or six per plant.

Pests

Harvest/Storage

  • Harvest 16 to 24 weeks after sowing when the skin of the fruit is shiny and unwrinkled. 
  • Cut the fruit close to the stem, but leaving about an inch of it attached.
  • Eggplants can be stored for up to two weeks in humid conditions no lower than 50 degrees F.

Recommended Varieties

  • 'Black Beauty'
  • 'Easter Egg'
  • 'Little Fingers'

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

At one time, women in the Orient used a black dye to stain their teeth a gun metal gray. The dye probably came from the same dark purple eggplant we see in the marketplace today.

Comments

I have Egg plants in big pots

By Richy Rich

I have Egg plants in big pots that produce lots of fruit in the summer and are flowering like crazy now, but the petals fall off and no fruit is developing. What can I do to have fruit this winter season in Phoenix ?

Eggplant loves to be toasty

By Almanac Staff

Eggplant loves to be toasty warm. It will not withstand much frost or cold temperatures. In Phoenix, the first expected fall frost is around December 5. Some gardeners have had luck in getting their eggplant harvest to last through part of December, but you would need to keep the plant protected from cold temperatures.

The flowers falling might indicate a lack of water (be sure to place mulch on the soil to help with consistent moisture in the pot), disease (check for other symptoms on the plant), too low or too high temperatures (or extreme fluctuation), or lack of pollination. Eggplant is pollinated by wind; in humid air, very hot temperatures, calm days, etc., pollination will suffer. You can take care of this by hand-pollinating--use a small paintbrush to brush the inside of each flower for a few seconds (to move the flower's pollen onto the central pistil).

Eggplants like daytime temperatures between 70 and 85 F, and nighttime temperatures of at least 65 F. Temperatures below 60 or above 90 may cause troubles, such as stunted growth or failure to fruit. If temperatures in your area have been straying out of the ideal range, that might be causing the flowers to drop.

I'm growing eggplants on my

By Mlcunliffe

I'm growing eggplants on my southwest facing balcony. As it's October the nights are getting very cool. At what temperature should I bring them indoors? I have the same question for my pepper plant. Thanks

When nighttime temperatures

By Almanac Staff

When nighttime temperatures dip below 50 degrees F, it is a good time to bring your eggplant and pepper plants inside. Water them well a few hours before transplanting. Make sure to place them in a sunny window and place in pots that are 10 to 14 inches wide. Try to keep the plants away from drafts and home heaters.

This is the last week of

By Courtney Kessler

This is the last week of August and I just bought a package of eggplants. Can I plant the seeds in my fall garden? or is it to late to produce for fall harvest? We live in SW Arkansas.

Sounds like you are in

By Almanac Staff

Sounds like you are in Hardiness Zone 8a or 7b. It is probably too late for eggplants for a fall crop, although you can plant other crops, such as snap beans, carrots, broccoli, etc., in early September. You might want to contact your county's Cooperative Extension to be sure about the eggplant. Their contact information can be found at:
 
http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services
 
Also, your first expected fall frost date can be found at:
 
www.almanac.com/content/frost-chart-united-states/
 
You might be interested in the following publications about crops and timing for gardens in Arkansas:
 
http://www.purplehull.com/pdf_files/FSA-6062.pdf
 
http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/vegetables/docs/planting-dates-fall-vegetables.pdf

I am in Zone 10, SW Florida.

By Marsha Sherman

I am in Zone 10, SW Florida. I trying to find out if I can grow the seeds of an eggplant from an eggplant I purchased at the store. I also have a very delicious summertime recipe for what my family has always called "chopped eggplant." Usually served on a piece of rye bread. Cold and refreshing and healthy.

You can't usually save seeds

By Almanac Staff

You can't usually save seeds from grocery stores because they will be "hybrid" varieties and may not reproduce from seed or you just won't know what you're getting. Eggplant seeds can be saved,  however, they have to sit on the vine way past the stage that you would use them for eating and grocery store eggplant is picked much earlier for the best taste. Eggplant is a tough one. If you do want to save seeds, there are many vegetables which are far easier! See our seed-saving guide: http://www.almanac.com/content/quick-seed-saving-guide-beginners

I just picked six 4 to 5 inch

By Ronjuna

I just picked six 4 to 5 inch glossy purple eggplants off my plant. They have slight green tint on the skin after peeling the outer layer off. They turned purple 10 days ago. Are they ripe enough to eat? They are simmering on the stove in in white wine vinegar and balsamic oil with a dose of olive oil as this is being posted.Thank you

I made a video about an

By A Gardener

I made a video about an eggplant if anyone is interested. It involves what not to do. Eventually, I will make more videos regarding growing eggplants and other crops. (I apologize if my videos are a little rough; still working on perfecting my videos)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW7O4odUtpA

Could u tell me how many

By Eddy Hill

Could u tell me how many crops can I expect from a brinjal plant. My guess is that we should get 4 crops per year, and since a brinjal plant had a productive life of two years, one can expect upto 8 harvests. I currently live in New Delhi, India, a city where average temperatures stay above 90 degrees for most part of the year except the December-February quarter.

My eggplants this year have

By charliej

My eggplants this year have 10-12 fruits per plant, but the fruits have stayed small and went from green to yellow. What would cause this?

Some eggplant varieties are

By Almanac Staff

Some eggplant varieties are naturally small and turn yellow when ripe (such as 'Thai Yellow Egg'). However, if your variety was supposed to be large and purple, for example, then it might be a few things. Poor pollination will cause the fruit to develop a little bit but then stop, and may drop off; could the yellowing be part of the rotting process, before the fruit starts to fall off? Eggplants flowers are pollinated by the wind, but if weather during flowering was damp and humid, or very hot, or if the plants are too crowded, it can interfere with pollination. If you think this might be the cause, you might try hand pollinating your plants. Each flower has both male and female parts; just use a tiny artist's paintbrush to gently brush the pollen from the stamen onto the pistil, around in the middle of each flower. If pollinated, the flower will close and eventually the petals will fall off and a fruit will form at the base.
 
Sunburn, weevils, diseases can cause fruit to turn yellow, but more likely in blotches rather than entirely yellow, and for insects, there might be evidence of holes, etc.

Your information is so

By Babu Balaji

Your information is so helpful. THANK-YOU.

my eagplant fruit is turing

By edwin geiling

my eagplant fruit is turing brown and falling off while small.
i live in new orleans, other crops do well. any ideas, thank you

Is it possible that you

By Almanac Staff

Is it possible that you planted miniature eggplant? When an eggplant turns brown it usually means it is past maturity.

I live in the desert of So

By Bill Mason

I live in the desert of So Cal (Palm Springs)...the 1st year of my eggplant I had a couple of fruits, but this year over a dozen. How long should I keep this plant (just pruned down a bit so less leggy)...will it fruit again this fall or again next spring/summer? or should it be replaced.
Bottom line, how many years is one plant good for?
Thank you,

Hi, Bill, and kudos to you!

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Bill, and kudos to you! It's loving the hot summer and warm nights. Enjoy the bounty of your eggplant for "tomorrow" it will die. Eggplant is an annual, so you will have to start again (replace this beauty) next year with a new plant. (
You will, of course, practice crop rotation and not plant in the same spot/pot soil next year, won't you?
 

My eggplant leaves are turned

By grannylizx5

My eggplant leaves are turned a reddish colour and the plants are growing very slowly. Is that a deficiency?

Hard to tell at a distance if

By Almanac Staff

Hard to tell at a distance if it's a deficiency or a disease. Be sure that your soil has a pH of 5.8 to 6.5. Give it moderate amounts of 5–10–10 fertilizer, and provide adequate moisture, watering to a depth of 6 inches as needed. You might also bring a leaf to your local nursery or coop extension service. They might be able to identify the cause.
We hope this helps!

It's June 2014 in Sacramento.

By Liz Haas

It's June 2014 in Sacramento. My Japanese eggplant flowers, puts out 'fruit,' and when I'm not looking, the fruit is gone all the way up to the stem. Looks like it is (almost) twisted off. Cannot be children or pets or neighbors. Can scrub jays or magpies or squirrels do this kind of damage? Hopefully, Liz.

Hi Liz, If you don't see

By Almanac Staff

Hi Liz,
If you don't see eggplants or pieces of the fruit on the ground we suspect squirrels. The best defense is netting. Secure the net around the plants.

i planted black beauty

By cory schultz

i planted black beauty eggplants next to my tomatoes with basil also close by. I live in New Orleans, and may have planted a tad late, April 1st. I've had quite the time with tomato fruit worms on the tomato plants, but now that I've got it under control, I'm trying to get the eggplant to produce. My 3 eggplant bushes are HUGE and flowering like crazy, but not a one has actually started producing fruit. I'm wondering if one of the other plants is counteracting the production of eggplant fruit. what can i do to get them to produce?
thanks

Tomatoes and eggplants are

By Almanac Staff

Tomatoes and eggplants are companion plants and basil grows well with both. Make sure that you have pollinators in your garden. If the flowers don't get pollinated there will be no fruit. Shaking the plants a couple of times a week may help. Also make sure to give the eggplants plenty of water.

i have gardened for over 40

By ellen terrell

i have gardened for over 40 years, i raise many different vegetables. I have always started my own plants, either in the house or in my cold frame. I planted 6 eggplants in my garden, and one of them has black thorns growing through the leaves, even the blooms. i've never seen this before, do you have any idea what it is?

Can you freeze eggplant? I

By LINDA B RUSS

Can you freeze eggplant? I freeze squash, blanching first and then freezing. Can I do the same with eggplant and if so do I have to peel it. how long to blanche

Yes, you should peel the

By Almanac Staff

Yes, you should peel the eggplant before blanching for freezing. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice to 1 gallon of water and bring it to a boil. Drop in small pieces of eggplant for about 4 minutes. Plunge into ice water.

I have black beauty eggplants

By Steve Soule

I have black beauty eggplants in So Cal Coastal zone. Last year they got lots of "suckers" So as I do my tomatoes, this year I meticulously pinched the suckers. This year plans are way taller, but looking spindly, but healthy, and fruit setting.
You seem to say to pinch the terminal growth bud, not the suckers, to keep plants bushier. Do I have this correct? Which shape produces better?

We suggest that you first

By Almanac Staff

We suggest that you first pinch off the tips of young plant stems to create more fruit bearing stems on one plant (bushier plant). When the plant starts fruiting pinch off any suckers or side shoots to keep the energy directed into the fruit bearing stems.

How deep should the soil be

By Tony foster

How deep should the soil be for the eggplant roots. I have raised beds. That are 12" deep. And also have some in 12" pots.

Thanks for bringing this up!

By Almanac Staff

Thanks for bringing this up! You reminded us to pick some up to have tomorrow! Tony, sounds to us like you may be a little on the tight side with your space, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Eggplants form a fibrous mass of roots that will fill the space allowed (and be rather shallow, too, i.e., close to the surface), but they do best with a lot of root surface, as they love water and are finicky at times, so we try not to sqeeze ours. One rule of thumb is that they would like the space of five 1-gallon milk jugs (which you can consider as four jugs juxtaposed in a square, and the fifth "gallon" taking up the space in that "cube" left over from the space where the jugs taper at the top -- so, four jugs, plus a little taller). But we suspect that you're "close enough for government work," as the saying goes -- or eggplant work, in this case.

I have four eggplants in my

By frank swain

I have four eggplants in my garden. They have multiple flowers, but, they never become fruitful. The flowers fall off and never produce. I live in Tampa, Fl. and the temperature is warm(hot). I water the plants as prescribed. What is the problem??

This might help, use tweezers

By Davion

This might help, use tweezers to remove the anther (pluck one from a flower)then use a pen knife to slice the anther open. Once the anther is open shake the pollen loose on to a dark paper or plastic cap. Then use a paint brush to apply the pollen to the stigma. Enjoy and have fun :D

If different varieties of

By Era

If different varieties of eggplant are planted all together (e.g. Black Beauty, Italian White, Turkish Orange), would they cross-pollinate?.... If yes, how far apart should they be planted to preserve the variety?

To much water will make the

By emma. duckworth

To much water will make the egg plant droop and turn the leaves yellow and that will cause the fruit to not fill out it will make them swivel up. I found watering once a week when temp are above 80 works well

I planted Black Beauty

By Karen Bierman

I planted Black Beauty Eggplant. Does the eggplant grow upright like tomatoes or does it grow vine like squash?

Eggplants grow in a manner

By georgewilson

Eggplants grow in a manner much like tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height.

Hi. Will eggplants do well in

By Herminia Genetiano

Hi. Will eggplants do well in pots? Im just trying it at my roofdeck.

Yes, eggplant can do well in

By Almanac Staff

Yes, eggplant can do well in pots that are 16 inches deep.
Four to five gallons per plant is best for eggplants.
Good eggplant varieties for container growing include: Dusky, Morden Midget, Bambino, and Millionaire.
Good luck!
 

I planted my seeds indoors a

By Rserro

I planted my seeds indoors a little more than 3 weeks ago and they still haven't shown any sign of growth. I had to go out of town for 4 days and our friend who watched the house said she watered them, but they were bone dry when I checked. Should I start over? I'm worried it was too cold in the window while we were gone, too, as it got in the teens here. Thanks!

Yes, you should start over.

By Almanac Staff

Yes, you should start over. The soil needs to be kept moist as well as very warm for eggplant seeds to germinate (about 80 F to 90 F if possible!). Eggplant will not germinate in cool soil. You may need grow lights for the tender, "warm-season" plant. It is a difficult plant for a beginner.

Thank you!

By Rserro

Thank you!

Eggplant seed germination

By coachlane

Eggplant seed germination issues -
I started a couple varieties of eggplant in peat seed starters (along with a bunch of other veggies) under a T5 grow light. The other items, especially the Kale and Tomatoes, germinated as expected, but the eggplants have not - looks like there may be mildew. Do eggplants need different starting conditions? Less moisture? Any help would be appreciated; there is still time to start a crop!

Eggplant seeds usually

By Almanac Staff

Eggplant seeds usually germinate in 7-14 days. They can be tricky. The seeds need warmth, ideally 75°F and if possible bottom heat to warm the soil. The seeds should be lightly covered with soil mix and bottom watering is prefered. For overhead watering use a very fine mist so that the seeds don't sink deep into the soil. Good luck!

We planted eggplant seeds

By Mary Jane Weber

We planted eggplant seeds (Hansel variety). Had four lovely plants, loads of blossoms throughout the summer and not one eggplant was produced. Puzzled as to what might have been wrong.

If your eggplants flowered

By Almanac Staff

If your eggplants flowered without fruit, that is usually due to temperature. They can't fruit in high heat. When the weather cools down in the fall, however, the fruit may set. Keep soil moist and use mulch to keep in the moisture.

Planted eggplant, but have a

By LITM

Planted eggplant, but have a heavy clay soil, and saw very little growth. Now they are about 18 inches tall and have flowered. Would they survive being transplanted now?

We only transplant eggplant

By Almanac Staff

We only transplant eggplant when we are setting seedlings in the garden.  Eggplant is an annual.  We've never transplanted once it's in growth mode and it is not recommended. If you try it, let us know what happens!
 
 
 
 
 

Can I plant eggplant plants

By Readytoplant

Can I plant eggplant plants in zone 4 in early october and expect a harvest before first frost?

No. Eggplant is a heat-loving

By Almanac Staff

No. Eggplant is a heat-loving plant and needs 60 to 80 days of warm weather to get to harvest!

I asked the owner of an

By Esther Nelson

I asked the owner of an Italian restaurant how I would know when my eggplants were ready to harvest (I had 3). He said when they are slightly soft to the touch. They never got larger than 4" and got yellow and were still hard. I cut one today, sliced and breaded it and fried the slices in fine olive oil. The first bite tasted fine, but as it hit the back of my tongue the taste was horribly bitter, and when I swallowed it my throat felt like I had taken a slurp of battery acid. After reading these comments, I know I should have cut them when they were still black. My question now is this: do they become toxic when left on the bush too long? When something tastes horrible, it seems that Mother Nature is saying, "Don't eat this." I did immediately toss out all the rest.

Eggplant does contain the

By Almanac Staff

Eggplant does contain the toxin solanine, as do other plants from the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes) but it is not poisonous.  Some readers, however, have reported sensitivity to solanine, especially when the eggplant is raw or lightly cooked--or, if they've eaten some other plants from the nightshade family in the same sitting.
Eggplant can be quite bitter, too, which is why we salt it. Salting releases the moisture which contains the bitterness, so you want to rinse off the eggplant and squeeze it dry before you prepare it.
Cooking eggplant transforms the taste and texture into something magical! It takes time, however, so the question is: learn to cook it yourself or go to an Italian restaurant? :-)

Ivr found that when growing

By yvonnr

Ivr found that when growing egg plants they nerd a lot of fish mulch this helps them to be come more sweet while growing I plant mine next to my pond and when cleaning out fillters they get that muk that is in the filter and they grow to 10 feet high produce 10 to 20 fruit every 3 to 4 days black beautys are the best for this

My egg plants turned black

By Charles F. Petri

My egg plants turned black and then turned yellow. They are about 5 to 6 inches long. Are they ready to harvest?

Eggplant is commonly

By Almanac Staff

Eggplant is commonly harvested when it is purple in color, glossy, and six to eight inches long. They turn yellow when mature and aren't as good to eat at that point.

Very helpful thank you

By elain perry

Very helpful thank you

Eggplants are looking shabby

By re6bec6ca6@gmail.com

My Eggplants leaves are turning yellow. They have gotten bushier..but look kinda droopy, I dont know if they do well around here or what..WV? I give them lots of water and I side dressed them with 10-10-10.. If anyone has tips for eggplants it would be awesome!!

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