This summer’s home garden must-have is most definitely the eggplant. Also known as aubergines, Ichiban plants, or solanum melongena, eggplants are lovely, long, slender, and purple fruits that can be grown in raised beds, but that are perfect for container gardening.
You will love having fresh eggplants in your garden this growing season, as they are perfect for grilling, baking, stuffing, and much more – a culinary artist’s dream come true! Take a look at our complete guide to planting eggplants in pots and containers to learn everything that you need to know to have a fun and successful harvest this year.
When to Grow Eggplant?
When it comes to eggplants the best time to plant young plants (also known as eggplant seedlings) is when temperatures are warming up, and when the risk of the last frost has passed. For most climates, June is the best month to plant eggplants – well after the last frost date! If you are planting eggplant seeds, expect to see seed germination once temperatures reach about 70 to 90°F.
How Long Does it Take to Grow Eggplants?
Plan on being able to harvest your fresh eggplants 65-80 days after planting them. If you plant in June, you should expect to be able to harvest through August, September and even early October.
How to Grow Eggplant in Containers
The most important factor to keep in mind when it comes to growing eggplants in containers is the size of the container. You want the container for these veggies to be large enough to support their root systems, as well as their small bushels that sprout up during the growing period.
We love seeing eggplant container gardens because they are easy to manage, and they make incredible outdoor decorations. Take a look at this container garden how-to:
- Choose a pot or a container that is ideally has at least a five-gallon capacity
- Make sure there are drainage holes
- Choose a well drained potting mix and a balanced fertilizer
- Plant your seedlings
- Water thoroughly
Best Containers to Grow Eggplants In
Aside from our Gardenuity Grow Bag, the best containers to grow eggplants in are the big ones. Aim for at least a 5-gallon capacity. You will also need to be certain that there is ample drainage opportunity in whichever container that you choose. Some people will grow eggplants in an unglazed pot; this is great, just make note that these pots will dry out more quickly than other containers.
What is the Ideal Container Size to Grow Eggplants In?
Happy eggplants will require about 12-14” of space per plant. Remember, if you can find a larger pot, this will always work in your favor, as eggplants have exceptionally large root systems. Eggplants prefer a five-gallon container, but a minimum of two-gallons will suffice.
When growing eggplants in containers, you will want to look for more compact varieties such as the hansel or the patio baby. These plants will grow veggies that are about 3-5 inches in size – you can expect to harvest at least a dozen per plant by the end of the growing season.
Growing Eggplants in Pots
Growing eggplants in pots is a great option for those who do not have a large gardening space. That said, if you can manage to fit a Grow Bag in your gardening space, it is in your best interest to do so. This is because pots have a tendency to dry out much more quickly than our strategically designed Grow Bag.
Common Eggplant Growing Issues & Problems
- Eggplants need to be grown in weather that allows for consistently warm soil. If temperatures cool off too intensely, your veggies will have a bitter flavor.
- A growing eggplant requires a lot of nutrients; young plants will benefit from regular fertilization in order to grow well.
- Pests, like flea beetles, and diseases, like verticillium wilt, love to feast on eggplants. We will touch on prevention later in this guide.
- Underwatering is another common issue that is faced when growing eggplants. Be sure to give your seedlings at least 1” of water a week while they are young.
Eggplant Growing Conditions & How-To Care
Generally, eggplants are happy-go-lucky growers. As long as you can keep them warm and out of the grips of common pests and diseases, you will be on a fast track to a beautiful harvest.
Ideal Potting Soil for Growing Eggplants in Containers
Eggplants always grow best in a well-drained sandy loam soil. You will also need to provide a fairly large amount of organic matter for these plants. Aim for the soil pH to be between 5.8 and 6.5 for the best outcome. Try using a slow release fertilizer to keep your eggplants happy and healthy.
Ideal Eggplant Growing Temperature
Eggplants prefer daytime growing temperatures between 70°F-85°F. Be weary of temperatures that rise over 95°F; if this does happen, your plants will stop setting fruit. Before transplanting your eggplants, be sure that the soil temperature rests at a minimum of 65°F. Typically, this is around 3-4 weeks after the last frost of the season.
How Much Sun do Eggplants Need?
Similar to tomatoes and peppers, eggplants love the heat. Be sure that your growing eggplants receive at least 6 hours of daily full sun.
The most common pest that the eggplant attracts is the flea beetle. You will also want to watch out for spider mites, tobacco hornworms, aphids and cutworms. Using a strong hose to rid your eggplants of pests will often do the trick. Otherwise, try using a gentle blend of water, dish soap and baking soda to spray onto your plants.
Eggplants are also prone to the verticillium wilt. To prevent this disease, use a thick 3-4” layer of organic mulch that will keep the soil moist, while also preventing temperature fluctuations. You can easily find organic matter to add to your garden at any local garden center.
Grow Pro Eggplant Growing Hacks & Tips
- If you are growing your eggplants in a container, they might need some extra support. You can try using a tomato cage, a trellis, or even staking your eggplants to keep them from harming their tender stems.
- Eggplants are heavy feeders. Be sure to provide them with a lot of organic matter, such as compost, throughout their growing process. Fertilizing is your friend!
- Experiment with making your own compost at home so that you don’t bring home any fertilizer that includes pesticides. See our guide to making your own compost here.
- Try using a covering of black plastic mulch in order to warm soils before setting out transplants – your eggplants will thank you.
- Use a layer of mulch underneath your plants once they begin setting fruits. This will help to keep the soil moist, as well as to keep pests and diseases at bay.
- If you are growing in a cooler climate, consider planting your eggplants in dark colored containers. If you are using a raised bed, use row covers to keep your eggplants warm – to help with pollination, open the ends of the row covers on days that are guaranteed to be sunny.
Best Companion Plants for Eggplants
Fellow members of the nightshade family make great companions for eggplants. Try planting your eggplants next to potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. You can also safely plant your eggplants near peas, beans, spinach, thyme and marigolds.
You should avoid planting your eggplants near fennel.
Eggplant Growing Stages
Growing eggplant is easy and fun, especially once your plants start to set fruit. Be sure to pay close attention to the growing patterns of your eggplant garden so that you can readily provide whatever your plants need to continue their healthy growth.
Remember to give your plants time to settle into their new homes, especially when transplanting. Water thoroughly just after planting, and continue to monitor for the next week after transplanting.
Eggplant seedlings will begin to grow true leaves after about 10 weeks of growing. If you are growing from transplants, you can expect to receive your plants just before they are at this stage.
As your plants are maturing, be sure to provide them with support so that the fruit doesn’t bend the stems toward the soil – tomato cages or staking is helpful in this scenario. These plants reach up to 18” tall while they are growing.
Eggplants have self pollinating flowers; once the female flower is pollinated, it will begin to grow fruit. As the fruit is growing, it will start in a pear shaped development. Depending on the eggplant variety that you are growing, you should expect to grow a harvest of purple, striped or white eggplants.
It’s Time to Harvest
You will know that your eggplants are ready to be harvested when their skin is glossy and their texture is firm. It is best to harvest an eggplant when it is young and tender, just a few days before becoming fully ripe.
I Waited too Long, Now What?
If you wait too long to harvest eggplants, they will become bitter to the taste.
- Fairy Tale Eggplant
- Globe Eggplant
- Chinese Eggplant
- Japanese Eggplant
- Graffiti Eggplant
- Rosa Bianca Eggplant
- White Eggplant
- Thai Eggplant
- Indian Eggplant
Best Eggplant Varieties for Container Growing
- Fairy Tale Eggplant: This is a compact plant that grows exciting, striped purple and white fruits. The fruit this plant sets is slender with a creamy texture.
- Hansel Eggplant: Another compact grower, this eggplant will produce large amounts of veggies while remaining a manageable size for whatever container it is growing in. Hansel eggplants will produce deep purple fruit that is about 2-8 inches in size.
- Gretel Eggplant: This eggplant grows similar to the Hansel eggplant, however it will produce fruit that is purely white, and that is about 3-4 inches in size.
- Bambino Eggplant: This is an extraordinarily compact plant that yields dark purple veggies which are about 2-3 inches in size. The Bambino is special because it can be prepared for harvest in just 45 days.
- Patio Baby Eggplant: The Patio Baby will grow to be a compact plant which produces lovely purple fruits that are about 2-3 inches in size.
How to Harvest Eggplant?
- Find a clean pair of pruning shears
- Gently cut or snip the eggplant off of the stem
- Be sure to leave a small bit of stem attached to the eggplant
When to Harvest Eggplant?
Eggplants are ready to harvest when they are firm with a glossy skin. Most gardeners prefer to harvest their eggplants a few days before they are perfectly ripe. When you cut a ripe eggplant open, you should expect to see just a smattering of small seeds. An overripe eggplant will have large, dark seeds inside.
How to Store your Eggplant Harvest
Eggplants are best if used as soon as possible after harvesting. That said, if you need to store your harvest for a few days after it is pulled from your garden, eggplants will fare best in a cool, room-temperature environment that is away from direct sunlight. You should aim to use your fresh eggplant within 7 days of picking it from your garden.
Eggplant Recipes We Love
Eggplants are so wonderful because they are incredibly versatile in the kitchen. You can create immaculate dishes with eggplant that is grilled, sauteed, baked, stuffed or fried. Take a look at some of our favorite eggplant dishes below.
Grow Pro Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, eggplants grow great in containers.
One eggplant plant will need about 12-14 inches of space to grow.
You should not plant fennel next to eggplant.
Yes, eggplants need at least 6 hours of full sun every day.
The best time to plant eggplants is in June, well after the last frost date.
Be sure to give your eggplant at least 1” of water each week.
The best size pot to grow an eggplant in is 2-5 gallon containers.
Eggplants fare best in a sandy loam soil with plenty of organic matter and fertilizer.
Yes, you can grow several eggplants in a 5 gallon bucket.
Depending on the variety of eggplant you are growing, typically it will take between 80-120 days for the plant to bear fruit.
Start Growing Your Own Eggplants!
What are you waiting for? You now have all of the best information you could ever need when it comes to growing your own beautiful eggplant garden. It is time to get your hands dirty and watch the magic of new growth happen right before your eyes. Take a look at our available container gardens to get started on yours today!