How to Grow Eggplant

Eggplants are an elegant fruit to grow in your garden. And while there are many varieties to choose from with colors ranging from white to green to various shades of purple, they all require time and patience to grow. But, when you harvest your beautiful eggplants, you will be well rewarded for your efforts.

You could certainly purchase your eggplants in a garden center, but you get a wider variety of options if you start the seeds yourself.

Starting Seeds

It is recommended that you start seeds eight to 10 weeks before the final frost in a system that offers both a bottom watering system with capillary action and a bottom heat source. If you don't have a bottom watering system, give seeds a misting with a spray bottle as a heavier water source could cause seeds to wash deep into the soil. While most seedlings are happy at about 70 degrees, eggplants prefer to be a little warmer - usually around 75 degrees. Providing supplemental light is unnecessary until seeds have germinated usually at about one to two weeks. Bottom heating can be discontinued once daytime temperatures are regularly in the 70s.

Planting

Once your seedlings have taken off and you are past the danger of frost, settle your eggplants in soil that receives plenty of sunlight. They like a well-composted soil with a pH of approximately 6.3 to 6.8. Laying mulch around your plants will help deter weeds and keep moisture in the soil. Because the plants can grow quite large, you should allow 24-36" between them and use stakes or tomato cages for support.

Pests and Other Problems

Flea beetles are a common problem when growing eggplants. A telltale sign of flea beetles is pinholes in your plants' leaves. The first wave of beetles can be deterred by a row cover early in the season. You might also consider predatory nematodes. Hearty plants will be able to survive an attack of flea beetles.

If you tend to your eggplants carefully, you will have a beautiful crop of fruit to show off and use in recipes.