Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a beautiful, warm-season annual that is relatively easy to grow providing you have warm temperatures. The planting season must be consistently warm with daytime temperatures around 80˚F and nighttime temperatures not falling below 65˚F. Anything cooler will result in slow to no growth once you’ve set your plants outside.
A member of the Solanaceae family, eggplants are closely related to tomatoes, peppers, ground cherry and potatoes. Numerous heirloom varieties – in shapes and colors you’ve never seen in the grocery store — are available for home vegetable gardeners.
Eggplant contains an impressive array of vitamins and minerals, but its health benefits extend much further. It is a good source of fiber and has just 20 calories per cup making it a perfect, meaty addition to a variety of baked dishes.
Eggplant varieties come in shapes and colors you’ve never seen in the grocery store.View all
Planet Natural offers heirloom eggplant seeds that are non-treated, non-GMO and NOT purchased from Monsanto-owned Seminis. Planting instructions are included with each packet and shipping is FREE!
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting Eggplant
- Only plant in warm weather after all danger of frost is gone
- Start seeds indoors or buy seedlings to transplant outdoors
- Choose a site in full sun; prep soil with plenty of compost and organic matter
- Water and fertilize regularly
- Harvest in 60-100 days
- Pests include flea beetles, potato beetles, aphids, hornworms; common diseases are Verticillium and Fusarium wilts.
Eggplant should be planted in full sun and requires ample amounts of water. They like fertile, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Adding compost or well-rotted manure around your plants is always a good idea.
Plants are easily injured by frost and will not do well with long periods of cool weather (see Eggplant Requires Heat, Patience). Use plastic mulches, floating row cover and greenhouse buckets to warm the soil, extend the season and increase production.
How to Plant
All varieties should be treated like tomatoes, the only difference being that eggplant likes warmer temperatures. Start seeds 8-12 weeks before the last frost or get seedlings from a local source, then plant them after the soil has warmed. Use black plastic mulch to heat the soil if your area has long, cool springs.
Set plants 18 to 24 inches apart in raised beds or double rows 2 to 3 feet apart. Apply a balanced organic fertilizer every two weeks throughout the gardening season.
Tip: Give your young seedlings plenty of time to harden off before putting them in the garden. A cold frame is perfect for this.
Harvesting and Storage
To harvest large fruits, remove most of the side shoots and select two or three fruits to develop on one plant. For smaller fruits, allow the plants to develop naturally. For best flavor, harvest while fruit is young and shiny. Cut fruits from the plants with one inch of stem attached. Allow 60-100 days to reach maturity from transplanting.
Fresh is best — mature fruits do NOT store well.
Insect & Disease Problems
Eggplant is susceptible to flower drop and misshapen fruit due to extreme temperatures.
Tip: Fill containers with organic potting soils to eliminate a wide array of herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals and other chemicals that can make their way into non-organic, commercial mixes.
Seed Saving Instructions
To save seed, let the fruits mature far past the edible stage. Seed saved from immature or ready-to-eat plants will not be viable. Grate or blend the bottom portion of the fruit, which contains the greatest seed density, using a hand grater or food processor. The small seeds are firm and slippery so there is very little chance of damage. Put all of the gratings into a bowl and fill with water. Squeeze the gratings vigorously. The good seeds will separate out and sink to the bottom. Allow seed to dry before storing.
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