Warm to hot weather throughout the season is necessary for good eggplant production. Seeds germinate quickly at 70-90 degrees F. If you start your own seedlings plants should be grown for 4 - 8 weeks before setting them out (no more than 10 weeks old). Cold temperatures will stop plant and root growth, reducing plant vigor and yields. Using hot caps or cloches protects plants from cold conditions.
Planting Tricks (Optional)
Most yardeners do not have absolutely wonderful healthy soil for their vegetable garden. One way to overcome some problems that might occur later in the season is to add some products to the soil before planting your seeds or seedlings.
Compost – A couple of handfuls of quality compost sprinkled along the line where the seeds will go or in the hole in which the seedling will adds micro-nutrients and valuable natural chemicals to the soil giving your new plants a boost as they get started.
Vegetable Thrive – This is an organic liquid that contains beneficial soil bacteria and beneficial soil fungi called mycorrhizae which helps develop strong root systems. Sprinkle Thrive lightly along the line where seeds will go or into the hole for the seedlings. Your plants get a better start then if they were planted without these valuable amendments.
Generally Eggplants are not planted directly into the soil. Use either seedlings you started yourself or buy seedlings from the garden center.
Buy Seedlings - When purchasing transplants, select those that are sturdy, dark green in color and not yet in bloom. Leaves should be fully expanded and free of diseases and insects. Plants grown in individual containers may cost more, but are usually worth it because their roots are disturbed less when they are set out in the garden.
Start Seeds -Eggplants grown from seed in the home should be seeded 4 to 8 weeks before the plants are to be set out in the garden. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep and keep the medium moist and at a temperature of 75° to 85 °F. Be sure the soil does not dry out during the germination period. When the germinating seeds break through the soil surface, water the soil only as necessary to keep it moist to the touch. Damping-off disease can be a problem.
Transplant young seedlings into larger containers when the stems have straightened and the first true leaves have opened. This is usually 15 to 20 days after the seed was sown, but may be longer at lower temperatures. The best temperatures for growing transplants are from 65° to 75°F during the day and 60° to 70°F at night.
Eggplant seeds can be stored for up to 4 years if kept in a dry cool place.
Transplant Outdoors –
Environmental Preferences for Eggplant
Light: full sun; at least 8 hours a day
Soil: well-drained, high organic matter ; soil temperature over 60F.
Preferred Temperature: warm (70 degrees - 85 degrees F)
Moisture Requirements: average
Eggplants require more care than many other types of plants when transplanting to the garden. Use only strong healthy plants 6 to 8 inches tall.
Hardening off the plants enable them to withstand the planting shock abe able to tolerate direct sun and wind. Start the hardening off process 8 to 10 days before planting them in the garden. Begin by moving the plants in their containers outdoors to a shady spot (a cold frame works well for this purpose). Move the plants into sunlight for short periods each day, increasing the length of exposure gradually. Reduce the watering frequency to slow growth, but don't allow the plants to wilt. Don't put tender seedlings outdoors on windy days. Once the plants are hardened off and the danger of a frost is passed, they can be planted in the garden. Actually wait two weeks after expected last frost date to plant eggplants.
If possible, transplant into soil on a cool, cloudy day and
then shade plants for a day or two to prevent wilting when the sun is bright.
If plants must be transplanted during hot sunny weather, it is best to plant
in late afternoon or evening.
Plant eggplants in full sun. Those growing in partial shade will produce less than optimum yields and will take longer to ripen fruit. Plants will also perform better with protection from the wind. The site should have fertile, well drained soil.
The plants are usually set 2 to 3 feet apart in all directions.
Planting Eggplants In Containers1
Both standard and miniature eggplants can be grown successfully in containers, but standards yield a better crop. These plants need more attention as the soil tends to dry out quickly.