eggplant-bush

Why You Should Support an Eggplant Bush

If you've grown eggplant before, you know that an eggplant bush grows dynamic, large foliage and fruit that need support, as they grow larger. Staking your eggplants helps them grow to their optimum size, and prevents damage to overburdened stems and leaves. Several types of support systems work for large eggplant bushes, including staking, tomato cages and trellises.

Size of an Eggplant Bush

Eggplants (Solanum melongena) are fast growing members of the nightshade family. Like tomatoes, the large eggplant bushes need support as they grow. Some eggplant cultivars can reach 8-feet high, but most grow up to 4-feet tall with branches reaching 3-feet wide.

For example, Ichiban eggplants reach 4-feet high and 3-feet wide, while the popular Black Beauty variety is smaller, growing over 2-feet tall and 16-inches wide. Even small eggplant bushes need support because the fruit is heavy, causing them to droop onto the ground.

Supporting Eggplants

Several support methods are effective for eggplant bushes. Choose the one that meets your needs, depending on the eggplant variety, and the space you have available in your garden.

  • Stakes – Five-foot tall wooden or bamboo stakes for each eggplant bush works well, but requires maintenance throughout the growing season. As your eggplant grows, you need to add more ties to hold up the plant.
  • Tomato cages – Cages are simple and convenient for the home gardener. Once you place the cage around your eggplant, there’s no further maintenance needed. Several types of cages are available, such as A-frame, cone, ladder and foldable cages.
  • Trellis – Supporting eggplant bushes with trellises along the rows is another method that requires you to tie up the branches, as the eggplant grows taller.

Benefits of Staking Eggplants

As with other nightshade plants, such as tomatoes and green peppers the benefits of supporting the stems and branches outweigh the time it takes to stake them. The following are several benefits of supporting eggplant bushes:

  • Prevents bruised fruit
  • Hinders damage from snails and slugs
  • Prevents damage to stems
  • Increases fruit yield
  • Easier to discover pests and disease
  • Faster harvesting
  • Increases air circulation

Preventative Care While Staking Eggplants

Whether you’re installing cages, stakes or trellises as eggplant bush supports, be careful not to damage the main stem or branches of your plants. Push the stakes or cages gently into the soil next to the eggplant, watching all the branches and foliage. Stop if you feel any blockage under the soil because you might be hitting the roots of the plant.