Eggplants are attractive and simple to grow. (Their care is nearly identical to that of tomatoes and peppers.)
Whether you know it as eggplant, aubergine, or brinjal, this vegetable is a must-have in any well-rounded garden!
In cool climates, starting eggplants indoors is the best strategy. Gardeners in warmer regions can direct-sow eggplant seeds in spring.
As far as how many eggplant seeds per hole you should plant, that remains the same no matter where you live. To ensure germination, place 2 to 3 seeds in each hole!
Types Of Eggplant
All eggplants belong to the species Solanum melongena. But there are many more eggplant varieties in existence than those found in your local supermarket.
If you’re in the US, then what you think of as a “normal” eggplant is the globe eggplant. Globe eggplants are large, dense, and often used in recipes in place of meat.
Italian eggplants are smaller and sweeter than globe eggplants. Chinese and Japanese eggplants are elongated, thin, and contain fewer seeds.
While these are the most popular eggplants in the US market, this list only barely scratches the surface! There are even several varieties, such as the white eggplant and graffiti eggplant, that have striped or non-purple skin.
Starting Eggplant Seeds Indoors
The ideal time to start eggplant seeds indoors is at least 4 weeks before your area’s last predicted frost date.
To ensure germination, you can plant up to 3 seeds per hole or cell. When seedlings emerge, thin all but the strongest plant from each hole. Eggplant seeds are very, very small and should be planted just ¼ inch deep.
Plant eggplant seeds in an all-purpose seed-starting mix. Starting 2 weeks after your seeds sprout, fertilize weekly with a diluted liquid formula.
Eggplant seeds need warmth (at least 80°F) and humidity to germinate and grow! Use a heat mat and humidity dome if necessary.
When Is The Best Time To Transplant Eggplant Seedlings?
Eggplants can be transplanted approximately 6 to 8 weeks after sowing.
Two things need to happen before transplanting your eggplant seedlings to the garden: First, there must be zero risk of frost. Second, the soil temperature must be at least 65°F.
Eggplant seedlings should be hardened off prior to transplanting. To harden off seedlings, slowly decrease the temperature and moisture during their final weeks indoors.
How To Grow Eggplant In The Garden
If you have experience growing peppers or tomatoes, finding a spot to plant eggplants will feel very familiar. After all, all three vegetables belong to the nightshade family.
Eggplants require warmth and sunshine. Be sure to plant your eggplants somewhere that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day.
Like peppers and tomatoes, eggplants fare quite well in raised beds and containers.
Grow eggplants in rich, well-draining soil for the best results. Incorporate aged compost into the soil prior to transplanting or direct-sowing eggplants.
Apply a balanced vegetable fertilizer throughout the season to support overall growth and fruit development.
Eggplants prefer daytime temperatures above 70°F and nighttime temperatures above 60°F.
Use a hoop house to protect eggplants on particularly cold nights. Keep a close eye on young plants in particular, which are more sensitive to cold snaps.
In the peak of summer, excess heat can also be a problem. Provide temporary shade using a large umbrella or tarp if daytime temperatures exceed 95°F.
From seed to harvest, eggplants grow best when the soil is consistently moist. Your eggplants should never be left to sit in soggy soil.
Water availability affects eggplant fruit development. Fluctuating moisture levels often result in abnormally shaped fruit.
Mulch around eggplants to conserve moisture and regulate the soil temperature.
Space eggplants at least 2 feet apart from each other. Rows should be arranged 3 feet apart.
Most gardeners prefer to space eggplants closer together when transplanting young seedlings or direct-sowing. This ensures plenty of plants make it through the first few weeks of the season. You can then thin the surviving plants to the spacing recommended above!
Eggplants do not climb or grow in vines. However, they do get very big and produce extremely heavy fruit.
Eggplants grown without support are liable to bend or snap when the fruit gets too big. To prevent this, you can place a ring of stakes or a tomato cage around each plant.
Supports are best set up early on in the season. Attempting to place a cage or stake in the soil around a mature eggplant is likely to damage the root system.
Eggplant is a long-season vegetable that takes at least 100 days to mature from seed. Most eggplant varieties are harvested in late summer.
Mature fruit should be harvested early and often. Eggplants tend to have the best flavor and texture immediately after ripening. Also, removing fruit as soon as it matures will encourage more to take its place.
To check eggplant ripeness, look for fruit that is shiny and smooth. If pressed with a finger, the flesh of a ripe eggplant will not immediately bounce back.
Do not twist or break mature fruit from the stem. Instead, use a sharp knife or set of shears.
Collecting Eggplant Seeds To Plant Later
Collecting vegetable seeds from your garden can be extremely rewarding! If you want to save eggplant seeds from your current crop, here’s what you need to know:
- Eggplants harvested when the skin is smooth, vibrant, and shiny contain immature seeds. For mature seeds, some fruit must be left on the plant until the skin softens and turns yellow or brown.
- Different varieties must be planted at least 50 feet apart to prevent cross-pollination. Cross-pollinated seeds often produce eggplants with less-appetizing (or downright inedible) fruit.
- Eggplant flowers readily self-pollinate, so you technically only need one plant of each variety to produce fruit and viable seeds.
- With proper storage, eggplant seeds remain viable for up to 6 years.
How To Save And Store Eggplant Seeds
- To separate eggplant seeds from the surrounding flesh, start by cutting the eggplant into cubes.
- Add a small amount of water, then break apart the cubed flesh with a handheld potato masher or using a food processor equipped with a dough blade.
- Place the mashed, watered-down mixture into a large bowl and add more water. Loosen the pulp to release the seeds, which should settle at the bottom of the bowl.
- Carefully pour away the pulp on the surface of the water.
- Place mature, undamaged seeds in a colander and rinse thoroughly to remove any remaining flesh.
- Let seeds dry completely before storing them in a cool, dry location.
How Many Eggplant Seeds Per Hole – Final Thoughts
Starting eggplants from seed is very straightforward. As long as they receive plenty of warmth and moisture, 2 to 3 seeds per hole are often enough to guarantee germination!
One of the best things about growing eggplants from seed is how many varieties you suddenly have access to. You might be surprised to learn just how diverse this humble vegetable truly is!