purple eggplants
Updated: June 10, 2021

Planting eggplant facts

  • Hardiness: Very tender warm-season annual. Frost will injure top growth; needs warm weather to grow.
  • Planting: Transplant after danger of frost, when soil is thoroughly warm. Use 8- to 10-week-old transplants. Full sun, requires direct light at least 6 hours/day; prefers 8 - 10 hours/day.
  • Days to maturity: 55 - 80 from transplanting.
  • Spacing: 18" - 24" in-row x 30" - 36" between rows.
  • Fertilizer needs: High requirement for nutrients, either from soil organic matter or fertilizers. Incorporate a pre-plant fertilizer. Side-dress after first fruits form. Refer to Fertilizing Vegetables for details.
  • Approximate yield: 20 lbs. per 10 ft. row.

Eggplant problems

Colorado potato beetle 
Eggplant lacebug
Flea beetles
Plant falls over-branches broken
Spider mites

Growing and care of eggplants

  • Eggplant is in the potato family Solanaceae.
  • There are dozens of types of eggplant. Italian types typically produce tear-shaped, glossy purple-black fruit 6 to 10 inches long, although there are wide shape and color variations. Slender Chinese and Japanese eggplant types have thinner skin and a more delicate flavor.
  • Warm to hot weather throughout the season is necessary for good production. Cold temperatures will stop plant and root growth, reducing plant vigor and yields, and increase vulnerability to flea beetle injury.
  • Encouraging early, rapid root and top growth is critical to obtaining high yields.
  • Floating row covers and other protective devices can help promote growth during variable spring weather and protect plants from damaging flea beetles.
  • When plants are 12-inches tall, nip back the growing tip to encourage branching. Support plants with cages or trellis to prevent lodging (plants falling over).
  • Watering - A soaker hose or drip system can make watering more consistent and timely. 
  • Weeding - Maintain a weed-free bed by using a mulch to cover the soil. Black plastic mulch or black landscape fabric will result in earlier harvests and higher total yields.

Harvesting eggplants

  • Cut fruit stems with pruners or a sharp knife when the fruit is not yet fully mature, about two-thirds of maximum size.
  • The fruit is ripe when the skin is very glossy and when the side of the fruit is pressed slightly with a thumbnail and an indentation remains.
  • Discard over-ripe fruit of dull color with brown seeds. Leaving mature fruit on the plant will reduce overall productivity.

Storage and preservation

  • Medium cool (45°- 50°F), moist (90% RH) conditions; 1 week.