Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a simple vegetable to grow that is available in numerous appealing varieties. Many small space or indoor gardeners are eager to learn how to grow eggplant in a container because of its popularity in many dishes. Eggplant fruit is generally deep purple and comes in various sizes and shapes, with purplish or white five-lobed blooms.
Growing eggplant in containers is a clever way to save space in the garden or use small plots. When working outdoors, plant eggplant in late spring to maximize its growing season as a warm-season, fast-growing crop. It’s important to note the eggplant flower and leaves are toxic to humans and dogs.
Planting eggplant is sometimes intimidating for growers, and learning how to grow eggplant in containers to ensure it produces well is a common concern. Eggplant may be started from seed indoors or propagated from cuttings taken from a mature plant after the growing season.
How to Grow Eggplant in Containers
When it comes time to harvest these hardy, adaptive plants, the rewards are enormous. There are many types of eggplant to choose from, each with its own size, shape, and coloring. Ensure a good yield by learning what eggplants need to grow and thrive with a bit of gardening knowledge.
Eggplants and their cousin, the tomato, are summer vegetables. You can grow eggplant in a pot inside the house or on your patio but keep growing conditions in consideration while choosing how to grow eggplant in a container, indoors or out, because eggplants develop in short, hot seasons.
With the popularity of container gardening on the rise, square foot, small space, and indoor gardeners are growing eggplant in containers for impressive fruit harvests. Learn how to grow eggplant in containers and enjoy fresh eggplant grown at home.
Cultivars for Growing Eggplant in Containers
The first step in growing eggplant plants, whether you’re planting eggplant seeds or eggplant seedlings, is to select your eggplant variety.
Choose a compact or regular-sized eggplant based on your container size and desired characteristics such as color and days to harvest.
Containers to Grow Eggplant
If you’re growing a compact eggplant type, use a 12-14 inches deep and wide pot or a 20-inch-depth pot for a regular size plant. Plant one plant per container, or put two compact plants in a larger container for a higher yield.
Ensure your choice of a vessel includes drainage holes to prevent the soil from becoming overly wet, which could lead to the development of root diseases.
Select a solid container so it won’t tip over easily when the plant grows heavy with fruit, and plan if you need to be able to relocate it. Good options are a clay pot, glazed pot, or a wooden whiskey barrel planter.
Planting Eggplant in Containers
No matter what different kinds of eggplants you want to grow, begin eggplant seed starting indoors eight or nine weeks before the last spring frost date if you plan to keep your container outside. Transplant your eggplant seedling or a young plant acquired from the nursery into your container after there is little chance of frost in the spring.
A sunny site with well-draining soil is required for growing eggplant. The warmer soil temperature in a container supports growth. Plant spacing is crucial for the successful development of eggplants. Plant eggplant in rows at least two feet apart. Tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers grow well with eggplant, whether you are growing them in pots or the ground.
Cover eggplant seeds with a quarter-inch layer of potting soil. Transplant nursery plants to the depth of their container or per the planting guide. Add support for the plants while they are still little to avoid unsettling the roots once they establish.
A bamboo trellis or a tomato cage pushed deep into the soil approximately 1-2 inches from the plant works for almost any eggplant variety.
How to Grow Eggplant in a Container – Care
Ensure egg plant plants get at least six hours of sun on most days, as eggplant do need full sun. A loamy soil with rich organic matter and good drainage is ideal. Keep your eggplant’s soil moist but never soggy by watering often and use plastic mulch, organic mulch, or wood chips to help with water retention. Because irregular watering leads to undesirably shaped eggplants, consider drip irrigation.
Temperatures between 70-90℉ are optimal for producing eggplant, with overnight temperatures as low as 60°F. For example, plant eggplant in zone 7 in April if you are container gardening outside. Consider moving your container indoors if your location gets outside these temperature ranges.
Before planting seedlings, the best way to fertilize eggplants is to mix a 5-10-10 fertilizer or aged compost into the potting soil. Alternatively, make an organic fertilizer with coffee grounds, eggshells, or bananas. Fertilize the eggplant plants when the first fruits appear and again a few weeks later for the biggest harvest.
Position your container where nightshade plants haven’t been located in prior growing seasons to protect your eggplant harvest from pests like the Colorado potato beetle.
Harvesting after Growing Eggplant in a Container
Collecting fruit from your container grown eggplant plant is the best part. Depending on the cultivar, gardeners usually harvest eggplant in the middle to late summer when it’s grown outside.
It’s best to harvest it when young, so look for eggplant fruits that are just starting to ripen. Transplants take 65 to 80 days and seeds take 100 to 120 days to mature.
Select eggplants with smooth skin, and some give under gentle pressure. Cut the stem from the eggplant with a knife, leaving about an inch on the fruit. Although you can eat eggplant, it is frequently baked or cooked in Eggplant Parmesan.
Store eggplant uncut and unwashed in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for about a week.
Many people enjoy eggplant because it is delicious and versatile. Growing eggplant in a container allows almost anyone to cultivate and enjoy this fresh vegetable. Home gardeners may quickly grow eggplants in small spaces, square foot gardens, or indoors by providing appropriate soil temperature, water, sunlight, and pest control.
Baked, grilled, or added to a recipe, fresh eggplants are yummy. As more people try their hand at container gardening, eggplant is a front runner for an easy option with simple care parameters and a large harvest.
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