How to grow eggplant from seed

Eggplants have a lovely texture and a unique taste. Without them, so many cuisines would lose a major element. These plants are also easy to plant and care for. This blog aims at providing a step to step guide on how to grow eggplant from seed. Along with this, it will also touch upon details pertaining to other eggplant variants.

How to grow eggplant from seed
eggplant plan

How to grow eggplant from seed

Eggplants as we know it is easy to maintain. These plants need a lot of sunlight, water and good quality soil. Most gardeners across the US care for eggplant in two ways. They either grow them from seed or acquire them as saplings and then transfer them to either a pot or in the ground. This section goes through how to grow eggplant from seed. Here are the steps to follow

#1 When and where to plant eggplant

Planting eggplants from seeds is a little tricky. These plants are fussy about the amount of heat they receive when germinating. You can plant them outside once the temperature increases. But if you wait for the temperature to sore you might be able to germinate the seeds faster but this will reduce the chances of yielding fruit.

In order to maximize the chances of your plant yielding fruit, you will need to sow them earlier.

As mentioned above eggplants are weather or heat-sensitive hence you will need to germinate them indoors. They can then be transferred outdoors after a few weeks.

#2 Prepare the germinating tray 

Before sowing the seeds, it is important to prep the sowing tray. There are two trays you can work with. One that has separators – something like an egg tray and a deep dish – like an oven tray. Either way, you will need to prep it before sowing the seeds.

Prepping the tray is simple, no matter if it is DIY or store-bought clean it thoroughly. After cleaning, layer the tray with potting mix. A 2-inch layer should work just fine. You do not need fertilizers at this pot but a mix that retains a little moisture but does not get soggy.

You can alter this step when planting in the ground directly. If you live in a locality that is warm and humid all year through you can just plant eggplants outdoors without giving it much thought. In order to prep the soil dig in a few holes to put in your seeds.

#3 sowing the seeds

Ideally, you do not need to have a fixed distance between these seeds while sowing as you will eventually transplant the saplings to another pot or the ground. This being said how you sow the seeds depends completely on the gardener. Some people like to space out the seeds so that they look nicer while in the sapling stage. In a separated tray you will invariably have saplings separated.

Once the tray is prepared scatter the seeds as per your liking. You then need to cover them with a layer of soil. A 1-inch layer will work just fine as these seeds do not like to be sown very deep. 

When sowing in the soil directly either scatter the seeds directly or use holes punched in the soil as mentioned in the previous step. After the seeds are in cover them with a little soil and you are good to go.

#4 Watering

After the seeds are in the soil regardless of the method used or the location. You will need to give it a good watering. this way the seeds will set and the soil will retain moisture.

After watering you would ideally cove the soil so that the moisture stays locked in. plastic is the best material to use as it seals off outside air and generates a lot of heat. Simply cover the germination tray with plastic wrap and you are good to go. While watering all you need to go is uncover the tray, water it and then cover it back up.

This step needs to be done only until the seeds germinate. After you see tiny shoots you can leave the tray open.

#5 Heating

Heat is the most important factor when it comes to germinating eggplant.  Bottom heat helps the seeds germinate. The simplest way to do this is setting the germination tray over a warm surface like the fridge or close to the heating system. Be mindful that the place is warm and not scalding hot.

Another way to ensure that the seeds receive heat is by investing in a heating pad. You can use the heating pads below the container, set it to the desired temperature and let it work its magic.

Discontinue heating after you see the first leaves. If you continue to provide heating after the leaves start to form the saplings will turn leggy.

Most eggplant variants take up to 75 to 80 days to grow. When you choose variants to look for one that suits your region.

This way you will be able to grow and care for eggplant better.

#6 Adding Fertilizers and compost

While the plants grow, before transplanting, you will need to prepare the soil. This can be done a few days to weeks prior to the actual shift. Add well-aged manure or compost to the soil and let it sit. You can also add an all-purpose fertilizer that will prep the soil for the plants.

Eggplants grow well in soil with a PH in the range of 5.5 and 6.0.

#7 Transplanting

After the saplings are big enough, they can be moved outdoors. The transplanting process is a little tricky as these plants take time to adjust. They cannot be moved outdoors before the daytime temperature reaches into the 60s and 70s while the night temperatures remain above 50 degrees F.

Before the actual transplanting process, you will need to harden the plants. this is done by gradually exposing them to the sun. start with a maximum of 2 hours and work your way up to 8 to 10 hours. During the hardening process keep the plants away from the afternoon sunlight. This will protect the plants from burns.

After the plants have hardened enough you can place them outdoors. be sure to place them in a spot where they receive a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight per day. If the plant is in the shade it will start to get leggy.

These plants will not yield fruit as well. to avoid this place the plants in full sun and water them well. Once you have germinated, grown and transplanted the eggplants they will need a little maintenance. You will be able to enjoy the fruit in a few weeks after the plant starts flowering.

Let’s address the common misconception when it comes to the eggplant that it grows on vines.

How to grow eggplant at home
How to grow eggplant at home

Does eggplant grow on a vine?

Eggplants are plants with heavy fruits. These plants require a lot of sunlight and water to grow. When provided with perfect growth conditions they tend to grow tall and bushy.

Once they start to bear fruit more often than not the heavy fruits cause the stem of the plant to stretch and touch the ground. This creates the illusion of a vine. So technically the eggplant is not a vine but appears so when it bears fruit.

How to grow eggplant at home

As seen in the previous section, it is extremely easy to grow eggplant from seed. These plants need heat to germinate after the plants are transplanted outdoors, they prefer warm soil. the easiest way to see that the soil does not lose moisture is to introduce an external agent that locks in moisture.

A black plastic covering the garden soil is a great option. this way the moisture stays trapped in and the soil remains warm enough for the plant to grow well.

If you are looking for an option that is on the organic side you can mulch the soil around the plant. this works as well as the plastic bag with an added advantage that it allows the soil to breathe. Dark compost can be used for this purpose.

Another important thing to remember while growing eggplants at home, is that it needs to be fertilized regularly. This is important especially during the growing season when the plant requires all the nourishment possible.

The best fertilizers for the eggplant are organic water-soluble fertilizer variants. These can differ in composition depending on the soil the plants are in. you could also opt for fertilizers such as kelp emulsion, fish hydroslate or compost tea.

After looking after the plant for a few weeks you will notice that they have started to flower. The eggplant is self-pollinating, which means that this plant does not need insects for pollination. The first few flowers will generally fall off. That’s completely normal for this plant. The ones that last will finally start forming into the fruit in a few weeks.

Remember: The more frequently the fruits are harvested the greater the fruit set. You need to pick eggplants daily.

While growing eggplants at home you have two options, you can either plant them in the ground or grow them in pots. The next section takes you through the process of planting eggplants in pots.

How to grow eggplant in a pot?

Planting eggplants in pots is fairly simple. All you need is full sunlight, good soil and lots of water. Once these requirements are met you will have beautiful plants. unlike other vegetables, the eggplant does not require much space.

How to grow eggplant in a pot

The roots of these plants are also not very deep and hence they can be easily grown in planters. Another important fact about this plant is that it does not grow as wide, hence you can plant about 2 saplings in a single (large) pot.

The only decision the gardener needs to take is if they are willing to germinate the seeds of this plant or are planning to transplant saplings commercially bought.

In either way, the eggplant will require a lot of warmth. Not only will it require to be kept warm during the sowing and germinating phase but also as the plant grows and begins to mature.

These plants yield better when in full sunlight. as far as possible keep the plant in a spot that receives full sunlight. plants grown in the shade will be leggy and won’t yield as much.

The next thing to consider is the amount of drainage the pot had. You will need to punch drainage holes at the bottom of the pot so that the soil isn’t soggy. When it comes to the soil itself look for a potting mix that holds in a little moisture but doesn’t get soggy. This way the plant will receive the moisture that it requires without getting root rot.

When it comes to plants that are in the sun all day, we see a lot of water loss due to evaporation. This leaves the soil dry and flaky. In such situations, it is not always practical to keep watering the plant every few hours.

To avoid evaporation, mulch the soil. This will help retain moisture and also trap in the heat. You could also use a black plastic sheet. It works better to keep in the heat but does not allow the soil to breathe.

While on the topic of how to grow eggplant from seed it is also important to understand how this plant pollinates and produces fruit.

When the plant matures like most flowering and fruit yielding plants the eggplant grows flowers. in most cases the first few flowers will not sit on the plant they will just fall off almost immediately. The flowers that stick on will eventually grow into a fruit.

As the eggplant is a self-pollinating plant it does not depend on insects to get pollinated. This makes it difficult for plants sometime when the conditions are not right.

In such cases, you can lend a helping hand to the plant. The process is simple, all you need to do is activate the pollination process and let the plant be. Hand-pollination helps increase fruit production. For this, you can use an electric toothbrush as an aid to vibrate flower stems.

Do not vibrate the flowers just the stems. Do this for a few seconds and continue the process till you cover all flowers. By doing this the pollen moves around within the flowers thus increasing fruit production.

Growing eggplant from seed is satisfying but also time-consuming. In most cases for almost all variants, you will need to wait for 100 to 120 after sowing. This not only eats upon the yielding period but also increases the effort you need to put in. to save you from the trouble you could consider growing eggplant from cuttings.

How to grow eggplant from cuttings

The first step while growing eggplant from cutting is acquiring the cutting. You can get one from an existing plant at the end of the growing season. The growth process for cuttings starts indoors. You will need to wait for weeks after the last frost until the weather is warmer to transplant the plants outdoors. 

To grow eggplant from cutting you will require the following

  • A mason jar or equivalent
  • A plant container preferably a gallon or more
  • A potting mix of good quality
  • Compost – homemade or store-bought
  • Garden stakes about six by half an inch wide
  • Roll of twine

#1 fill the mason jar to about two thirds with water and place the cuttings in it. you will need to leave the cuttings here till they root. The rooting process can take anywhere between two and four weeks. You could also dd a few drops of a liquid rooting agent in the water. You could also dip the cuttings in honey so that it roots faster. Change the water in the jar regularly. This will keep away microbes and insects.

#2 Once the cuttings have rooted you can plant them in soil. This can be done by filling the pot to about two thirds with potting soil. add a little compost to the mix to increase the nutritive value. Then carefully place the cuttings in the pot and fill it with the potting mix so as to secure the cuttings.

#3 once the cuttings are planted water them thoroughly so that they set and the soil around them has tightened.

#4 Staking is important while planting eggplants. This process helps reduce the strain caused by fruits. Use wooden garden stakes that are about six feet long and about half an inch to an inch thick. These will support the plant when it yields fruit. Without them, your plant will droop and break.

#5 After the staking is done finish off by mulching the soil. this will help retain moisture and trap in heat.

With the various ways in which you can plant and grow eggplants, there are always speculations about how much time it takes to grow these plants.

In order to understand how to grow eggplant hydroponically. You will first need to understand how the process works. The hydroponic method is generally used to propagate plants. this is the common method used to root plants. the plants after rooting are moved to the soil.

It sometimes happens that the plants are left in the water longer. But this becomes difficult when it comes to plants that yield fruit. In terms of the eggplant, you will normally use this method to root the plant as mentioned above.

Along with this, we can also use fruit or scraps to grow eggplants.

How to grow eggplant from fruit?

Eggplants like other plants that belong to the same family are easy to grow from seed. If you do not want to purchase new seeds every season you can use the fruit itself. All you need to do is cut the fruit in half and scrape off the seeds.

These seeds can then be used to grow plants. follow the same method as mentioned in the previous section and you will have your plants ready in about 100 days.

How to grow eggplants from scraps?

Eggplant scraps (mainly seeds) can be used to plant new eggplants. Simply cut off a few pieces that contain seeds of the eggplant you are planning to cook and set it aside.

These pieces can be directly planted in containers. Simply place the pieces in the pot and cover it with potting mix. place this planter in full sun and water it regularly. In a few days, you will see shoots emerge. These can then be left in the same pot or transplanted to bigger containers. 

How long does it take for the eggplant to grow?

When it comes to growing eggplants the time it takes will generally depend on the growth conditions and the variant. In general, they will take anywhere from 100 to 120 -150 days from sowing and germinating. This is drastically reduced when you transplant a sapling. Saplings will take anywhere from 60 to 80 days to yield fruit.

This makes it important to start the germination process early if you decide to plant them from seed. All you need to do is start the process indoors while the temperatures outside are still low and then harden the plant while the temperatures rise.

This way you will be able to make full use of the warmth outside. You can also get into two yielding cycles. While doing so water and feed the plants well. this will give them enough nourishment to yield fruit.

If you are looking for specifics about how long for eggplants to grow, we have put together a list. This is fairly accurate provided the growing conditions are right.

Bell-shaped eggplants: As these fruits are bigger, they take longer to mature. While planting these make sure that the plat is staked. This will ensure that the plant can bear the weight of the fruits without snapping. The trick to these is starting early. You can surely squeeze in two yielding cycles for these. Feed the plants well and water them regularly. These plants need full sunlight.

  • Black Beauty – 73-80 days
  • Black Bell – 65 – 70 days
  • Blacknite – 61 – 65 days
  • Imperial Black Beauty – 80 – 95 days

Long, cylindrical eggplant: These eggplant variants are longer and not as heavy as the bell-shaped variants. None the less if you have about 2 to 5 fruits per plant, they tend to get heavy. We suggest taking these plants as well.  The time these take to yield fruit is also lesser than the previous variant.

  • Agora – 58 – 68 days
  • Dusky – 61 – 70 days
  • Ichiban – 50 – 60 days
  • Millionaire – 55 – 60 days
  • Osaka Honnoga – 60 – 65 days
  • Slim Jim – 60 – 65 days
  • Tycoon 54 – 58 days
  • Vernal 70 – 75 days
  • Violetta di Firenze 60 – 65 days
  • Vittoria 50 – 61 days

Small eggplants: These are tiny variants that grow in about 2 months. This makes the chances of getting a second and even a third yield possible. Feed these plants well to speed up the process. These plants rarely require staking as the fruits are not as heavy as the other ones. You could stake them though just to be sure. 

  • Bambino 40 – 45 days)
  • Mini Fingers 60 – 68 days

Non-purple eggplants: these are what we like to call the non-eggplanty eggplants. Thes variants add a lovely mix to the garden and take longer to grow. Non the less they are a good addition to your garden as well as the kitchen. Feed these plants well and let them take their time. Stake these plans.

  • Alba 60 – 70 days
  • Casper 70 – 75 days
  • Easter Egg 50 – 60 days
  • Italian Pink 75 – 80 days
  • Listada de Gandia 75 – 80 days
  • Louisiana Long Green 90 – 100 days
  • Osterei 75 – 80 days
  • Rosa Bianca 75 – 80 days
  • Turkish Italian Orange 85 – 90 days
  • White Beauty 70 – 80 days

When fruits are on the tree for this long it is a sure thing that they will need to be protected from pests. For this, you can spray them with neem, Spinosad or kaolin clay-based solution. This will get rid of flea beetles. This is especially useful when the plants are still small and more prone to disease.

As seen in the previous section there are a number of variants the black beauty and Japanese eggplant are the most common. Both these have distinct features and applications. While the black beauty is bell-shaped the Japanese eggplant is long and slender. Here is a detailed explanation about how to grow Japanese eggplant, when to plant a Japanese eggplant and how to harvest them.

How to grow Japanese eggplant?

As this is the most common variant you can easily procure both seeds as well as saplings of this plant locally. Once you have the seeds proceed to sow them indoors as mentioned in the previous section. This will give the plant time to develop. You can then harden the plant before transplanting them outdoors. these plants grow and yield well in full sun. when outside place them in a spot that receives direct sunlight.

How to grow Japanese eggplant
How to grow Japanese eggplant

When planting this variant be sure to plant them at least 30 inches apart. These plants grow to about 2 to 4 feet both in height and width. As far as the soil is concerned, these plants like a PH of 6.2 to 6.8. it also requires well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. hence, it is important to add compost and other organic manure to feed the plant.

In terms of the water requirements of this plant, like most variants of the eggplant, the Japanese eggplant requires a lot of water. The soil needs to be constantly moist during the growing season. be sure not to overwater the plant as it will cause root rot. Add a layer of mulch to the soil to seal in the moisture and retain neat.

While picking these fruits look for ones with glossy skin. Dull fruits are indicative of overripening. As both over and underripe fruits are bitter it is important to harvest them in time.

So, how to cut an eggplant?

While harvesting fruits be careful about how you do it. These fruits are not easy to pluck off the plant by hand. You will not only damage the tree but also the other fruits on it. For this reason, it is important to cut the fruit just above the crown. Leave about 1 inch of the stem intact.

While cutting eggplants it is important to use sharp instruments. You will also need to sterilize the instruments as this will prevent damage to the plant. try to cut off the fruit in one fluid motion this will save the plant from a lot of trouble. You can use scissors as these are quicker and less damaging as compared to knives.

Along with the question of how to grow eggplant from seed gardening websites and communities are flooded with the question which is the best eggplant to grow?

To this, we can say that all eggplant variants have a similar model and method to grow. The only difference is the application or the cuisine you will use them in and the amount of time you are willing to wait till the plant grows.

As per the previous section, there are smaller variants that grow faster as compared to bigger variants like black beauty. If time is the factor you are judging by look for smaller variants to grow. If you need fruits that are more versatile and bigger, opt for larger variants. These may take time to grow but at the end of it all, they can be used in a number of preparations.

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In conclusion

We can say that Eggplants are beautiful and a great food choice, these, when added to our diet, come packed with a number of benefits.

With weather conditions constantly changing it is important to be prepared. This article spoke at length about how to grow eggplant from seed. It also went into details about when and how to plant them, how to plant eggplants from cuttings, fruits and scraps. Along with all the tips and instructions, it is important as gardeners to keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan ahead. Nowadays, spring frost is not uncommon.

As we know it all eggplant variants are fond of the sun and frost harms the plant. it not only stops growing but also causes the flowers to fall off and the fruits not to set. To avoid this, it is important to invest in a frost blanket. These are available locally as well as on eCommerce websites. These blankets are a good way to retain moisture and trap in the heat to save plants from frostbite. They will protect your eggplants from untimely weather changes.

Hence it is not only important to know and perfect how to grow eggplant from seed but also important to know what to do when there are unexpected weather changes. It is also important to understand how to look after these plants by watering and feeding them well.