Get ready to become an eggplant-growing pro with our guide to eggplant growing stages!
From seed to harvest, you’ll discover everything you need to know about this fascinating vegetable’s life cycle. With tips and tricks straight from the experts, you’ll be cultivating your own bountiful crop of eggplants in no time.
So let’s dive in and explore the exciting world of eggplant growth together!
Eggplant Growing Stages
Eggplants, also known as aubergines, are members of the Solanaceae family of plants, which includes tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.
It usually takes 85 to 100 days for eggplants to go from seed to harvest. So let’s take a look at each stage in more detail.
Stage 1. Seeds
The first stage of eggplant growth is the seed stage. Eggplant seeds are usually started indoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost date to get a head start on the growing season.
To start eggplant seeds indoors, place two to three seeds in each pot or cell approximately 0.4 inches (1 cm) deep.
Cover the containers with plastic wrap or a dome to retain moisture and heat. Although eggplant seeds can germinate in lower temperatures, it is better to keep the soil warm. For faster germination, the temperature should be above 75 oF (24 oC).
Pro Tip: If you live in a very hot, humid area, you can plant seeds directly in the garden. However, starting your eggplant seeds indoors provides a controlled environment with optimal growing conditions.
Stage 2. Seed Germination
The second stage of eggplant growth is seed germination. Seed germination takes 10 to 15 days. Once the seeds have germinated, you’ll see two small seed leaves peaking up out of the ground. These are called “cotyledon” leaves. About two weeks after germination, your eggplant seedlings will get their first true leaves.
Pro Tip 1: If you have overseeded and multiple seedlings have emerged, don’t thin them out right away. Wait a week or two to see which seedling is the strongest, then cut the weaker ones.
Pro Tip 2: You can also prick out seedlings by carefully lifting them from the soil and transplanting them to another pot or garden. This will give each seedling a chance, but the danger is that you could damage roots or delicate stems.
Once there is no danger of frost and the seeds have grown their first true leaves, it’s time to transplant eggplant seedlings outdoors.
Eggplant needs full sun, so choose a location with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Also, prepare the soil by adding compost or other organic matter to improve fertility and water-holding capacity.
When transplanting, dig holes slightly larger than the root ball of the seedlings and place them in the ground, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
Space the plants about 18 to 30 inches (45 to 75 cm) apart. Water the seedlings thoroughly after transplanting and continue to water regularly to ensure they don’t dry out.
Stage 3. Root and Foliage Growth
During the early growth stage, eggplant seedlings will focus on developing their root systems and growing leaves.
Once plants have established themselves, they will enter the foliage growth stage. The plant will grow rapidly and produce large, dark green leaves.
Keep the soil moist during this stage to ensure the seedlings have enough water to support their growth. Mulching around plants will reduce evaporation and will help the soil retain moisture.
Pro Tip: Use a trellis or stakes to support eggplants as they grow.
Stage 4. Flower Blossom
After the eggplant plant has matured, it will enter the flowering stage. During this stage, the plant will produce beautiful purple or white flowers. These flowers will eventually develop into the fruit of the plant – the eggplant.
The appearance of flowers on a plant is a sign that the plant is healthy and progressing toward producing a fruitful harvest. To maximize the plant’s potential, continue with proper care and attention, but do not overwater or overfertilize.
As the flowers bloom, pollinators such as bees, bumblebees, and butterflies will be attracted. While eggplants are self-pollinating and do not require pollinators to produce fruit, pollinators can still play a role in the plant’s growth and pollination.
Stage 5. Flower Pollination
After the eggplant flowers have bloomed, the next stage is flower pollination. During this stage, the transfer of pollen from the male part of the flower (the anther) to the female part of the flower (the stigma) occurs. This process is necessary for the development of the fruit.
Eggplants are self-pollinating, meaning each flower has both male and female parts and can pollinate itself without needing another flower. However, pollinators such as bees, bumblebees, and butterflies can still play a role in pollination by transferring pollen from one flower to another.
After the eggplant flowers have been pollinated, the plant will begin to form a fruit. Petals of the flower will wither and fall off, revealing the growing fruit beneath.
Stage 6. Fruit Development
During the fruit development stage, the flower will develop into a fruit. The fruit will grow and mature over time, eventually reaching its full size and color.
As the fruit grows and matures, it will change in appearance. The exact time it takes for the fruit to reach maturity will vary depending on the variety of eggplant and the growing conditions. Once the fruit has reached maturity, the plant will go into its last stage – harvest.
Pro Tip: Check your plants regularly for the presence of pests. The main pests that could potentially affect fruit formation by feeding on the plants leaves and shoots are flea beetles, hornworms, aphids, earwigs, snails, and slugs.
Stage 7. Harvest
After the eggplant fruit has reached maturity, it is time to harvest. The exact time it takes for the fruit to reach maturity will vary depending on the variety of eggplant and the growing conditions.
It is important to harvest the fruit at the right time to ensure that it is at its peak flavor and texture. Look for a few key signs to determine if an eggplant is ready to be harvested:
- The fruit should be firm to the touch and have glossy skin.
- The color of the fruit should be deep and rich, with no green or yellow spots.
To harvest the eggplant, use a sharp knife or pruning shears and cut through the fruit stem. Leave a short length of stem attached to the fruit. This will slightly extend the eggplant’s shelf life.
Pro Tip: Avoid bruising the delicate skin when harvesting, as the fruit that is bruised, will not store well. In case you have some eggplants that are damaged, use them first.
Eggplants taste best when prepared fresh but can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Here are some tips for storing eggplants:
- Do not wash the eggplant before storing it. Washing can cause it to spoil faster.
- Wrap the eggplant in a paper towel before storing it in the refrigerator. This will prevent moisture loss and keep the eggplant fresh.
- Avoid storing the eggplant near other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas, such as apples and bananas. Ethylene gas can cause the eggplant to ripen and spoil faster.
- If you need to store the eggplant for longer, freeze it. To freeze an eggplant, slice it into rounds or cubes and blanch it in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Then, take the slices out and let them cool. Drain the pieces well and place them in a freezer-safe container or bag. Frozen eggplant can be stored for up to 8 months.
Tips for Growing Healthy Eggplants
To ensure a healthy and bountiful eggplant harvest, consider the following tips:
- Choose a variety that is well-suited to your area and growing conditions.
- Start your seeds indoors to get a head start on the growing season.
- Transplant your seedlings outdoors once the weather warms up.
- Use a trellis or stakes to support the plants as they grow.
- Control pests and diseases using organic methods.
- Harvest the eggplants when they are fully mature before they become overripe.
How To Prepare Eggplant For Eating
Now that you’ve learned about the eggplant growing stages, ready to take your eggplant game to the next level? Here are some delicious recipes for eggplant that impress your taste buds.
- Baba Ganoush,
- Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant with Tomato Sauce,
- Easy Eggplant Stir-Fry,
- Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Sandwich,
- Easiest Eggplant,
- Eggplant and Pepper Dip.
What To Do Next
Eggplant is a delicious and versatile vegetable easy to grow in your backyard or garden. It can be used in various dishes, from grilled to stuffed to roasted.
So, there you have it! All the stages of eggplant growth have been briefly explained. If you have any questions, feel free to drop us an email.
If you enjoyed reading this article, check out our similar ones in the Gardening How To section.
Want to share your thoughts, or have you read something you disagree with? Send us an email! We would love to discuss it 🙂