How to Grow Eggplants from Seed to Harvest
You want to grow eggplants (also known as aubergine or brinjal)? Good news!
It’s fairly simple and also quite a lot of fun.
However, before you start, you should read this article since I give you all the information that is needed to grow your eggplants in an optimal manner.
I even give you a step-by-step approach to grow your eggplants from seed to harvest.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Eggplant Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||2 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide.|
|Climate||Eggplants grow best in rather warm climatic zones with optimal temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Eggplants love the sun.|
|Soil Requirements||Eggplants grow best in acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 – 6.5.|
|Country of Origin||India.|
|Perennial?||Eggplants are usually grown as annuals even though many eggplant varieties are indeed perennial.|
|When should you start to grow?||You should start growing eggplants in spring.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||Beginners can expect 1 to 3 aubergines per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||90 to 130 days to grow eggplants from seed to harvest.|
|Pests & Diseases||Flea Beatles, Eggplant Lace Bugs, Spider Mites, Stinkbugs, Fruit Rot, Powdery Mildew.|
|What to do with it?||You can use aubergines for casseroles, salads or create your own recipes.|
What Types and Varieties of Eggplants can you grow?
There is a big variety of different eggplants you can grow. I listed the most popular ones for growing purposes below.
- Black Magic eggplant
- Dusky eggplant
- Black Beauty eggplant
- Rosa Bianca
- Slim Jim
- Little Fingers
- Easter Egg
- Early Bird eggplant
While my favorite eggplant variety is the Black Beauty eggplant since the fruits can grow quite big and they also have a quite good taste, you should try out different varieties.
Especially if you are new to growing your own aubergines, you may want to plant various different eggplant sorts. You can also use a seed mix.
By growing many different eggplants, you will be better able to figure out what varieties you want to continue to grow in the future and it can also be quite a lot of fun to see the different eggplant varieties and their respective colors and shapes.
Thus, for now, just try a handful of different eggplant varieties and you are good to go.
When should you start to grow Eggplants?
The optimal starting date for growing your eggplants is between mid of March and the end of May.
However, in my opinion, you should start out rather sooner than later with your aubergine growing project.
In fact, it can take quite a lot of time to grow your eggplants from seed to harvest and beginning early on in the year can be a quite good idea due to that.
Especially if you live in climatic zones that are not optimal to grow eggplants, you should start quite early so that your eggplants will get ripe in time.
Thus, I would recommend you start your growing project in mid of March or at least until mid of April so that you can be sure that your aubergines will get ripe in time.
How long does it take to grow Eggplants from Seed to Harvest?
While some growing experts claim that it only takes between 70 and 90 days to grow your eggplants from seed to harvest, I don’t think that this is realistic.
Especially if you are a beginner, it can take you much longer than that.
Also if you live in a rather unfavorable climatic zone, this can further delay your growing progress quite a lot.
Hence, in my opinion, a more realistic number would be 110 to 130 days to grow your zucchinis from seed to harvest.
Consequently, don’t get impatient if it takes you a little bit longer than most experts claim.
In fact, growing your own vegetables is about enjoying the process, not only about enjoying the harvest.
Thus, enjoy every day you see your aubergine plants growing instead of just hustling for the end goal. I would even see it positive.
The longer it takes you to grow your eggplants, the longer you can enjoy having those beautiful plants in your garden or on your balcony.
What is the best Climate to grow Aubergines?
Eggplants generally grow best in moderate to warm climatic zones.
However, over the past decades, seed companies have made quite a lot of progress and invented many aubergine sorts that are quite robust to various different climatic conditions.
Hence, even though you might not live in warm climatic zones, you will still be able to grow aubergines at home as long as you follow the steps in this article.
Thus, don’t worry too much about whether the climatic conditions in your region are suitable to grow aubergines or not.
Chances are that you will be just fine as long as you don’t live in extreme climatic zones like the desert or Antarctica.
What Temperatures do Eggplants like?
Eggplants usually like warm temperatures. The optimal outside temperature for growing eggplants is between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, aubergine plants are also rather tolerant towards different temperatures and as long as you don’t live in regions where temperatures fall below the freezing mark in summer and autumn, you will be just good to go.
What do you need to grow Eggplants?
While growing eggplants is fairly simple, you still need some equipment.
I listed all the things you need to grow your aubergine plants in an optimal manner below:
- Growing bed (to grow your eggplant seedlings)
- Big flower pots (not necessary if you grow your eggplants in your garden)
- Eggplant seeds (you can either extract your own seeds from eggplants or buy them online)
- Fertilizer (I recommend natural fertilizer; you can also even make your own fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Organic compost (either from your garden or from the garden center)
- Potting soil
- Bamboo sticks and cord to stabilize your eggplants
- Slug fence
- Garden shovel
- Watering can
- Patience and motivation for gardening 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Eggplants?
Now that you know what equipment you need to get for growing eggplants, you may ask yourself what yield you can expect from your aubergine plants.
While this depends on the eggplant variety you want to grow and also on your individual skill level, I would estimate around 3 aubergine crops per plant on average for a beginner.
Sure, if you get more advanced and gain lots of experience, you can also harvest 5 or more aubergines per plant.
However, if you are just starting out, you should be quite happy to harvest a few fruits per plant.
Even if it is just one or two aubergines per plant, don’t be disappointed.
It is still a success and you should not be discouraged even if your first eggplant growing project might fail.
Always remember, we all started out as beginners and I know it can be frustrating.
However, over time, you will get much better in growing eggplants at home.
Also remember that it is not only about the yield, gardening is about enjoying the process.
Consequently, just enjoy your growing experience every day and the end result should only be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.
What should you grow with Eggplants?
If you want to know more about what to grow with eggplants, make sure to check out the best and worst eggplant companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Eggplants?
You may also wonder why you should even bother growing your own eggplants.
In fact, as we have seen before, there are some things you have to get before you can actually start your growing project and those things also cost a little bit of money.
Hence, wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper just to get your aubergines from your local store? Indeed, it would be!
However, as I told you before, gardening is about really enjoying the process. In fact, I really love seeing my plants grow and buying my vegetables from the store is just not interesting to me.
Instead, I want to see with my own eyes how those vegetables are produced and I also want to learn how nature works.
Therefore, for me, it is about the whole growing experience and even though it might not make sense from a financial standpoint, growing your own eggplants can give you quite a lot of experience that can also be helpful for various other parts of your life.
Moreover, you can also avoid buying conventional vegetables from your store which is often contaminated with harmful pesticides, which in turn can be quite harmful to our health.
By growing your own eggplants, you can make sure that you grow them in a fully organic manner and your health will thank you for that in the long run.
Additionally, growing your own aubergines can also be a good tool to relax from your stressful daily life.
In fact, many people in our current state of the world work in demanding office jobs and are stressed on a continuous basis.
If you are one of those people, it can be quite beneficial for you to grow their own vegetables since it gives you the opportunity to do something completely different and to unplug from your stressful daily life.
In fact, compared to other hobbies, growing your own aubergines can also be considered to be quite cheap and you can do so even if you are on a budget right now.
Summing up, growing eggplants is not only about the yield, it can be a really nice hobby and you can also learn a lot from it.
Growing Eggplants: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Eggplants
Now that I hopefully convinced you that growing your own eggplants is indeed a good idea, it is now time for you to choose the optimal site for growing your aubergines.
In fact, selecting the ideal site is crucial to optimize the growing behavior of your plants and also to maximize your yields.
Do Eggplants like Sun?
Eggplants love the sun and you should therefore provide them with a pretty sunny spot in your garden or on your balcony.
Sure, you can also grow your eggplants in a shadow spot, however, chances are that your aubergine plants will not develop in an optimal manner if you do so.
What are the Soil Requirements of Eggplants?
Eggplants like soil that is a little bit acid. This means that the optimal pH-value for growing eggplants is between 5.5 and 6.5. Note that neutral is 7 on this scale.
Hence, eggplants only require a slightly acidic growth environment and if you rely on potting soil from your garden store and mix it with your soil from your garden, you will be good to go.
If you really want to optimize your soil conditions even further, you can also add some well-decomposed organic compost to your soil and make it a little bit more acid.
How much Space do Eggplants need?
Depending on the eggplant variety, aubergine plants can get quite bushy and you should leave them enough space to grow and to develop in an optimal manner.
While they will not require too much space in the vertical, you should plan to give each eggplant at least 3 feet of space into each direction so that your eggplants don’t have to compete for nutrients and sunlight with each other.
If you have a big garden and space is not a limiting factor, you should even give your eggplants 5 feet plus into each direction.
The more space, the better your plants can develop in general. Hence, those 3 feet mentioned above are just the bare minimum and you are quite welcome to give your eggplants as much space as possible.
Should you plant Eggplants in a Pot or in the Garden?
While you can grow eggplants in a pot, I would not recommend you to do so.
Eggplants generally need quite a lot of space and if you grow them in a pot, chances are that they will not have sufficient soil and space and may not grow in an optimal manner.
Moreover, if you want to grow your eggplants on a balcony, chances are that those plants will take away plenty of your space and you may no longer be able to use your balcony for other things.
Thus, whenever you have a garden, I highly suggest you just grow your eggplants since it will just make your life so much easier.
2. Plant Eggplant Seeds
Now that you got all the information that is necessary to determine the optimal location for your eggplants, it is not time to talk about the seeding process itself.
Should you buy Eggplant Seeds or Seedlings?
The first thing you have to figure out is whether you want to produce your own eggplant seedlings or just want to get them from your local store.
While getting seedlings from the store can be quite convenient, I would suggest you grow your own seedlings since only then will you be able to get the full growing experience.
In fact, only if you grow your aubergines from seed to harvest, you will see every step of the natural process and will be able to understand how nature works.
Moreover, chances are that you will also be quite proud of yourself once you managed to grow your own seedlings from scratch.
And don’t be intimidated. Growing your eggplants from seed is really simple and I explain all the steps necessary for it below.
Thus, just go for it! You will learn a lot and you can also transfer this knowledge to grow not only eggplant seedlings, but also various other plant seedlings by yourself in the future.
Should you buy Eggplant Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
If you decided that growing your own seedlings is indeed a good idea, you still have to figure out whether you want to produce your own eggplant seeds or if you just want to rely on the seeds from seed companies.
While relying on seeds from seeding companies is perfectly fine, you can also just go to your local grocery store and get an aubergine or also a variety of different aubergines.
Back home, you just have to cut them into halves and you can just extract seeds from the pulp of your eggplants and you are good to go.
How to plant Eggplant Seeds
In the previous step, you got your seeds either from a seed company or extracted them by yourself. Either way, you have your seeds ready.
Now it is time to actually plant your eggplant seeds. For this step, you just need to fill your growing bed with potting soil.
Make sure that you leave some space in the vertical and don’t fill it completely to the top.
After that, just place your eggplant seeds onto the soil. Make sure that each seed has at least 5 inches of space to each side so that your seedlings can grow in an ideal manner.
After you placed all your seeds, you can just cover your seeds with an additional layer of soil of about 2 inches in height.
In the last step, just water your seeds and keep the soil wet on a continuous basis. In fact, don’t let the soil dry out over the next weeks so that as many seeds as possible turn into seedlings.
Also make sure that you place your growing bed at a warm and sunny spot inside your house or your flat so that it gets sufficient light and your seedlings can grow in an optimal manner.
Also make sure that you grow enough seeds. In fact, not all seeds will turn into seedlings and you should always grow more seeds than you want to get seedlings.
To make this clearer: If you want to get 5 eggplant seedlings, you should grow more than 5 eggplant seeds since some seeds will just rot and never turn into seedlings.
Hence, I would suggest a ratio of around 2:1 between seeds and seedlings you want to get to be on the safe side.
If you really get more seedlings than you need, you can just give away them to other people anyway.
How long does it take to see the first Eggplant Seedlings?
It can take quite a while until you are able to see the first eggplant seedlings reaching the soil surface. In fact, don’t be surprised if it takes more than one week until you see the first results.
However, this doesn’t mean that all seedlings will grow at the same pace.
While you might see some seedlings after just one week, other seedlings may take several weeks to reach the soil surface.
Hence, make sure that you are patient enough to wait and to give your seedlings enough time to develop.
Gardening is about patience and about slowing down our lives.
Always remember that in times you might become impatient and want to see progress too fast.
How to protect your Eggplant Seedlings
After around one month, all seedlings should have reached the surface and it is now time to think about proper protection of your eggplant seedlings.
Since you will raise your seedlings inside your home for the first few weeks, chances are that you will not have to protect them too much since there will be no slugs or other enemies waiting for them inside your home.
However, if you have pets, make sure that your pets will not be able to reach your growing bed in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
When should you transplant your Eggplant Seedlings?
If you started early on in the year with your eggplant growing project, you should be able to transplant your seedlings at around mid of Mai outside to your garden or to your pots.
However, please note that this is only a rough indication. The exact time to transplant your seedlings outdoors depends on many different factors.
In fact, depending on the region you live in and also on the overall growth of your seedlings, it can take longer or shorter until your seedlings are ready to be transplanted.
You should always make sure that you meet the following two main requirements. First, make sure that your seedlings are big enough.
I would suggest you wait until your seedlings are at least 8 inches in height. Second, you also have to make sure that the overall outside conditions are right to transplant your seedlings.
In fact, as long as temperatures still drop below the freezing mark, you should never transplant your eggplant seedlings outside.
Hence, only if both criteria are met, it is time for you to transplant your seedlings. Let’s assume that this is the case right now.
Then, before actually transplanting your eggplant seedlings, you have to prepare the growing site in your garden. In order to do so, you should dig some holes for each seedling in your garden.
The hole for each plant should be around 1 foot deep and around 10 square feet in size.
After you dug your holes, mix the soil from your garden with the potting soil from the store.
You can also add some of your own compost if you engage in composting in your garden.
After you mixed all those ingredients and filled up the holes with your soil mix, it is now time to transplant one seedling into each hole.
Make sure to carefully remove the seedlings from your growing bed so that you don’t hurt the roots of your seedlings.
After you are done, just water your seedlings and you successfully transplanted your seedlings, congratulations!
Of course, if you want to grow your aubergines in a pot, you don’t have to dig those holes but you can rather fill your pots with potting soil and transplant your seedlings into your pots.
In such a case, you may also want to add some organic compost to the soil in order to make it a little bit more acid.
What kind of Protection do Eggplant Seedlings need outdoor?
Since your eggplants will no longer be protected inside your home but have to face the harsh reality outdoors, it is time to give them some protection.
This is especially important in the first weeks outdoors since your seedlings will still be quite vulnerable and need proper protection to survive.
Hence, for this period of time, I would suggest you use a slug fence since snails are the most dangerous enemies to your aubergine seedlings at this stage of their lives.
3. The Eggplant Growth Process
If you got to this point, the hardest part is already done. Congratulations! I know that it is not easy, especially if you are still a beginner.
However, if you made it to this chapter, chances are that you will be able to relax for a while now.
Your plants will become bigger and more resistant every day. However, you are not fully done yet. There are still some things to do which I show you in the following!
Should you prune your Eggplants?
Especially if your eggplants produce many flowers, you may want to prune them so that your plant has enough power to focus on the production of just a handful of crops.
On the other hand, pruning is not a natural process.
In fact, from an evolutionary perspective, pruning does not make quite a lot of sense since in the early days, humans have not even existed and there had been nobody pruning eggplants at this time 😉.
Hence, while some people advise you to prune your eggplants, I am not a big fan of this and I would rather suggest you just let it grow and let nature do its work.
Do you have to pollinate your Eggplants by Hand?
Pollinating your eggplants by hand can make quite a lot of sense. In fact, if you don’t pollinate your eggplants by hand, you may be quite disappointed since your yield will be rather small.
This is especially true if you only grow one or a few eggplants since the likelihood that your eggplants will pollinate each other is rather low.
Hence, if you want to maximize your yield, you should pollinate your eggplants by hand.
You can just use a cotton stick and carefully place the pollen from your plants onto the flowers.
How to stake your Eggplants
While most eggplant varieties don’t grow too much into the vertical, it can still make sense to stake your eggplants in order to give them more stabilization.
In order to do so, just use bamboo sticks and anchor them into the ground right next to your aubergine plants.
After that, just tie your eggplants to the sticks by using some pieces of cord.
As your plants grow further into the vertical, you may want to add additional ties.
4. The Eggplant Harvest
Many weeks past and if you followed all the steps in this article properly, the most exciting part lies ahead of you in late summer or in autumn.
When should you harvest your Eggplants?
Harvesting your eggplants is rather simple. Indeed, you can just have a look at the color of your aubergines and you will be able to determine whether they are ripe or if they just need some more time to develop on your plant.
If you are not fully sure, you just want to harvest one crop around the end of August and see how it tastes.
If it tastes well, you can harvest all the other eggplants. If not, just give them some more time.
After a few years of experience with growing eggplants, you will have a very good intuition regarding when it is actually time to harvest your aubergines.
Hence, even if you missed this optimal timeframe in your first growing year, don’t get discouraged. Just learn from your experience and do better the next year.
How to store your Eggplants?
You can store your eggplants in a dark, dry and cold area of your home for a few weeks.
However, I would suggest you use your eggplants the first days after you harvested them since they will contain the most vitamins in this state and will also taste the best.
What should you do with your Eggplants?
There are numerous dishes you can create out of your eggplants. While you can just grill them, you can also bake them or just use them for salads.
Opportunities are endless and you can even create your own eggplant dishes. Just go for it, you will be surprised how creative you will really be once you just try stuff 😉.
Eggplant Plant Care Tips
While you already made it through all the necessary steps to grow your own eggplants, there is still some additional general information on how to grow aubergines I want to share with you to make your growing experience even better.
How often should you irrigate Eggplants?
This greatly depends on how hot it is outside. While it will be enough to water your eggplants just a few times a week once they are still small and outside temperatures are moderate, you may have to water your eggplants daily on hot summer days.
It is pretty easy to figure out when it is actually time to water your eggplants.
Just dig a small hole with your finger right next to one of your eggplants.
If soil sticks to your finger, there is still enough water in the soil and there will be no need to water your plants.
However, if no soil sticks to your finger, it is time to water your plants.
You can often also see this from the leaves of your eggplants.
If those leaves begin to hang, it is generally a sign that your plants need water.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Eggplants?
Some experts claim that the best time of the day to water your eggplants is in the early morning.
However, from my experience, it doesn’t make a big difference whether you water your plants in the morning or in the evening and you should rather watch your eggplants carefully and water them whenever they need it.
How often should you fertilize your Eggplants?
If you prepared your soil mix for growing your eggplants in a proper manner and you also gave your eggplants sufficient space, chances are that you will actually not even need additional fertilizer.
In fact, fertilizing your plants can do more harm than good and many people simply use too much fertilizer, which can burn the roots of your eggplants.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Eggplants?
If you urgently want to use additional fertilizer, I suggest you use natural instead of chemical fertilizer.
The reason for this is that chemical fertilizer can be quite harmful to our environment and you should therefore go for natural alternatives instead.
In fact, you can even make your own fertilizer.
You just need to collect some stinging nettles, put them into a big bucket full of water and leave them in the water for a few days.
After that, just remove the plant material and you will have a stinging nettle liquid that is rich in nitrogen and which you can use to fertilize your eggplants in a completely natural manner.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Eggplants?
While conventional pesticides and herbicides work quite well, they can be quite harmful to our environment and may also decrease the populations of many helpful insects, including bees and other living organisms that you even want to have in your garden.
Hence, never use those chemical substances. Instead, remove weeds by hand.
In order to protect your plants from pests, just can just spray some of your stinging nettle liquid onto your plants. You heard right! 😉
Stinging nettle liquid is not only a decent fertilizer, it can also be used as natural pesticides.
Hence, there will simply not be a need for using additional pesticides and by using stinging nettle liquid, you can remove or at least limit unwanted pests in a completely natural manner.
If you want to learn even more about pest control, also make sure to have a look on how to get rid of eggplant pests and plant diseases.
What’s left to say?
If you made it up to this point, I am really proud of you! Honestly, I know it was a quite long article and you had to process plenty of information.
As you have noticed, I also added some additional videos to give you even more information on who to grow eggplants in an optimal manner so that you also get some graphical illustrations.
I hope this guide has been helpful to you. If so, make sure to also store the link and to come back during the growth process.
Also make sure to share this eggplant growing guide with your family and friends and through social media in order to give more people the opportunity to grow their own eggplants as well.
If you want to get even more information on how to grow eggplants, make sure to also check out my growing eggplant FAQ section.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.