How to Grow Eggplant
Eggplant Growing Guide
The eggplant family is one of the largest and most diverse groups in the vegetable world. The size and shape of the plants and the size and shape of the fruits vary tremendously, but all eggplants were originally tropicals. This explains why they love and require heat so much. In fact, “the hotter, the better!”
Eggplants produce prolifically in containers. They love the heat coming off a brick, stone, or concrete wall on a patio and will also do well in a sunroom or bright kitchen. Some varieties may require staking as they grow, to help support the tall stalks as well as the weight of the fruit.
How to Plant & Grow Eggplant
- Soil: Eggplants thrive in rich, sandy loam soil, but they are not super finicky so will also do well in average soil.
- Starting Seeds: Because eggplants require a long growing season (usually 120 days or longer), they should be started indoors in flats 8-12 weeks before the last frost date.
- Transplanting: Transplant the seedlings to the garden or a container about 3 weeks after the last spring frost date. Seedlings should be spaced 18-24 inches apart, in rows 36 inches apart. In containers, plant 3 eggplants per half barrel.
- Growing: Eggplants do not like to be overwatered and should only be lightly fertilized about once a month.
- Harvesting: Once the nighttime temperatures are above 70 degrees, the plants will set fruit continuously as long as any ripened fruit is routinely harvested. Once your eggplants have a high gloss and are dark purple in color, they're ready to be picked. To be sure, press gently on the skin; it should remain indented and not spring back.
Be sure to check the planting directions on your seed packet - this will give you helpful instructions, specifically for the eggplant variety that you choose.
Did You Know? Fun Facts About Eggplant
In the times of Renaissance Italy, eggplants were referred to a "mala insana," which translates to "crazy apple." And although eggplants do get their name in part because of their egg-like shape, they were primarily named so because of an earlier variety that had white skin.