Eggplant thrives in warm climates, but will also grow in cooler climates with two or more months of night temperatures around 70 degrees. In cooler climates, start these plants six to eight weeks before the last frost date for your area. In any climate, starting the plants indoors is best.
Plant seeds in small plastic pots and cover lightly (3/4”) with well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Give them 12-14 hours of light – either indirect sunlight or under grow lights. And you can keep them moist but not not soggy by misting them and covering them loosely with plastic wrap.
Seedlings will emerge in seven to ten days, and be ready to transplant in six to eight weeks.
Plant in full sun. To grow eggplant in containers, put only one plant in each pot and provide stakes so that the heavy fruit doesn’t drag the plants down. For a delicious added benefit, you can plant herbs like parsley or basil in the soil surrounding the single plants.
If you are growing your eggplants directly in the ground or in convenient raised beds, place plants 18 to 24 inches apart, with 36 inches between rows. Provide stakes for these plants as well.
Mulching around the plants helps regulate the soil temperature and conserve water. Keep the plants well-watered, but do not overwater, since that can cause root rot. Reduce number of fruits per plant to 3 or 4 for the best results and in approximately 80 days, you’ll be rewarded with a steady supply of this palate pleaser.
Did You Know?
Below are some interesting facts about eggplants.
- Eggplant is technically a fruit, although it is used as a vegetable.
- Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and peppers.
- All parts of the plant other than the fruit are poisonous.
- Eggplant comes in a multitude of varieties and colors. Just a few varieties aside from the familiar purple Italian eggplant are pure white eggplants, small, slender Japanese and Chinese eggplants and tiny, tender Fairy Tale eggplants.
Before you know it you’ll be harvesting your delicious crop of eggplants of propagated and grew yourself.