How to Grow Eggplant at Home

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Young eggplant hanging from plant

 

To grow an eggplant successfully, you need a temperature between 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C), a fistful of good organic compost every 20 days, and full sun when the seedling reaches 6 to 8 inches tall. Keep the soil moist during the germination phase, and later, water only when the soil feels dry to touch. Grow multiple plants in a container for better pollination.

What you need

  1. eggplant seeds or some local eggplant seedlings
  2. Sunlight: 5-6 hours daily
  3. Water
  4. Pot Size: 10 to 15 inch
  5. Soil: equal proportions of garden soil, compost and sand.
  6. Fertilizer: Handful of organic compost, every 15 days

10 Steps to Grow

Here are 10 easy steps you need to follow to successfully grow eggplant at home:

  1. Cut open an eggplant and extract all the seeds.
  2. In a pot with drainage holes, add 50% organic compost and 50% garden soil. Add water to settle the soil.
  3. Sprinkle the seeds in the potting mix and cover with a thin layer of potting mix. 
  4. Water but make sure not to expose any seed as those seeds won’t germinate. Keep the pot in a sunny location that receives indirect sunlight. Until germination (9-12 days), keep the soil moist at all times.
  5. Once the true leaves appear (after 25 days) and the plant reaches 4 to 6 inches in height, you can transplant them in a 10" - 15" pot.. Plant as deep as it was in the previous seedling pot. Keep a 6 to 8 inch gap between 2 plants and water thoroughly.
  6. Place a cage to provide support to the eggplant.
  7. After repotting, keep the plant in a location that receives indirect sunlight to avoid transplant shock and keep the soil moist at all times.
  8. When seedlings are 6 to 8 inches long, pinch the top growth just above the leaf node. This will promote the growth of side stems. More side stems = more eggplant. Now you can keep the eggplant plant in full sun. However, the ideal temperature for growing eggplants is between 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C). If you live in a desert climate, grow it in partial shade.
  9. Fertilize the plant every 10 to 15 days with a fistful of organic compost.
  10. Eggplants can be pollinated by bees. They can also be self pollinated by gently shaking the flowers
  11. As the plant grows tall, stake your plant loosely with a wooden stick using a twine or thread.
  12. Eggplants can be consumed from the beginning up until they mature. The size of the eggplant does not relate with the maturity of the fruit. You don’t want to wait for too long and wait for the size to increase, as the taste deteriorates overtime.
  13. Harvest the brinjals when they are young as soon as the skin is glossy. Cut the fruit with a scissor. Leave 1-2 inches of stem attached to the fruit.

Tips for Growing Eggplants

  • If you are a beginner gardener, it will be much easier for you to just buy an eggplant transplant from a nursery near you, rather than germinating the seeds yourself.
  • Seeds extracted from mature eggplants show a better germination rate.
  • When sprinkling the eggplant seeds in the potting mix, avoid overlapping to increase the germination rate.
  • Do not bury the seeds too deep as it will decrease the germination rate.
  • Seeds germinate in 9-12 days and true leaves will appear after 25 days.
  • If you are transplanting, try to transplant your seedlings early in the morning to avoid/mitigate transplant shock.
  • Plant multiple transplants in one pot for better pollination.
  • Pull out any growing weeds as they will steal essential nutrients from the soil.
  • Overwatering can cause major problems like fungus, pests and diseases to your eggplant. Only water when soil feels dry to touch. Let the soil dry out between waterings. Eggplants are quite drought tolerant.
  • Underwatering can lead to a bitter fruit. Underwatering causes the plant to go under a lot of stress, and as a defense mechanism it produces a bitter fruit that is not consumable by animals in hopes that the seeds will survive and produce more plants.
  • Usually the first blooms do not yield fruit due to poor pollination, but with time the fruits are produced.
  • Lack of flower production or bud drop is due to poor pollination. That is why it is advised to grow 2 to 3 plants in one container, or keep all the eggplant pots close to each other.

Tips for Harvesting Eggplants

  • Harvest the brinjals when they are young as soon as the skin is glossy. Cut the fruit with a scissor. Leave 1-2 inches of stem attached to the fruit.
  • Eggplants are perennials and members of the tomato family. They will continue to produce for the next 2 to 3 seasons and normally live for upto an year.
  • Eggplant needs to be used quickly after harvesting as it deteriorates in quality rapidly. 

Growing eggplant indoors

You may have to grow eggplant indoors if your winter temperatures drop below 68°F (20°C) or if you live in a desert climate with harsh and intense summers where the temperatures reach 98°F (37°C) or beyond.

 

You can grow eggplant indoors if you have a south-facing window. They need humidity of over 50% to grow well indoors. In the winter, the days are shorter so support the plant with artificial light. You will need to hand pollinate manually when growing eggplant indoors.

Sunlight Requirements ☀️

Eggplant is a warm weather sun loving plant. 

 

During the germination phase, eggplants only need indirect sunlight. Once mature, eggplants love full sun with at least 5 hours of sun. However, if you live in a desert climate, grow them under partial shade to avoid sunburn else the flowers won’t develop due to heat.

Temperature🌡️

Eggplants love a warm summer climate. Ideal temperature for growing eggplants is between 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 29°C). If the temperature reaches 95°F (35°C) or more, the fruit development is affected and it may drop an immature fruit, halt fruit growth or not set fruit at all. If the temperatures go below 60°F, flower/fruit formation and production will be affected.

How fast does eggplant grow

Eggplants have broad leaves and the seedlings grow quickly compared to tomatoes or peppers.

 

Here is a table that explains the rate of growth for eggplants that you can expect, from germination to harvest.

 

Event

No. of Days

Germination

9-12 days

Prominent seed leaf

11 days

True leaves - time to transplant

25 days

Plant grows 6-7 inches tall

28 days

Fuller and bushier, flowers bloom

45 days

eggplant ready to harvest

55 days

eggplant change the color to red

70 days

 

White spots on eggplant leaves

White spots on eggplant leaves. That is Powdery Mildew.

If you see white powdery spots that look like white sand or flour on your eggplant leaves, it is actually a leaf-infecting fungal disease called powdery mildew. Apply any fungicide like neem oil to get rid of powdery mildew. An effective home remedy is mixing 1 tsp of baking soda in 1 liter of water and spraying on the affected leaves.

 

Avoid powdery mildew by growing in full sun, and growing resistant eggplant varieties. Powdery mildew can spread all over the leaves and stems causing the leaves to turn completely yellow and drop, exposing the fruits to sunburn.

 

Making Eggplants Bushier

Eggplant is an apical grower and grows vertically. When the plant is young, about a few inches tall, you should pinch the growing tips. Anything below that will start growing as it forces the energy to the next growing tip. This puts the energy back into the stems and branching making it bushier with more fruit rather than growing thin and vertical.

Flower to Fruit stages

Most cultivars of the eggplant take 50 to 80 days after they have bloomed to produce fruit. 




 

Step 1: The Eggplant flower buds form.

Step 1: The eggplant flower buds form

 

Step 2: The eggplant flower blooms

Step 2: Eggplant Flower Blooms, ready to be pollinated by insects or wind

 

Step 3: The flower dries up, falls off and the fruit forms

Step 3: The flower dries up, falls off and the fruit forms

 

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