Do you want to grow nutritious eggplant vegetables in your home or garden? Panic no more; you are in the right place. YellowCarpet is here to provide simple, easy, and experienced information about Eggplant. In this post, we’ll be discussing the eggplant growth stages, including practical tips to achieve optimum growth, growth condition, and the health benefits of the eggplant.
Hence, this post is for you, whether you’re an experienced or starting gardener with a large or small-scale garden. Proceed on!
What is Eggplant?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Eggplant?
- 2 The Eggplant Growth Stages
- 3 Common Pests and Diseases of Eggplant
- 4 Health Benefits of Eggplant
- 5 Conclusion
The Eggplant, Solanum melongena of the family Solanaceae, is a perennial hardy, spongy, edible, and absorbent fruit typically used as a vegetable in cooking. It’s commonly dark purple and shiny when matured.
The fruit is viable anywhere globally, provided the growth requirements are met. Although the fruit is a perennial plant, it’s usually planted as an annual plant in some parts of the world. It has the same eggplant growth stages no matter the condition and timeframe.
Eggplant is useful as a vegetable in many dishes, and this is so majorly due to its health benefits. They act as antioxidants to absorb and break chains of free radicals (e.g., oxygen) produced during fat oxidation—these free radicals damage cells and tissues in the body.
Considering health benefits of eggplant, it is a must-have plant in your garden.
As with every other plant, Eggplant Growth Stages are more vital as a gardener to be familiar with it to ensure proper growth, especially when you’re new to gardening.
If you don’t have a vegetable garden, you can still grow the eggplant in a container. The fruits can be grown easily in containers of appropriate site
The Eggplant Growth Stages
The growth stages of eggplant are the same anywhere you are in the world, whether you decide to grow the plant indoors inside a container or in a field garden.
The eggplant growth stages include:
- Seed sowing stage
- Seed germination stage
- Seedling stage
- Adult plant stage
- Fruit formation
- Fruit maturation and harvesting
In addition, the eggplant seed typically takes around 100+ days to go from germination to fruit maturation for harvest.
Note: The eggplant is also known as Aubergine (in U.K. and Ireland) or Brinjal (in Indian subcontinents), Singapore, Malaysia, and South Africa).
Now, let’s discuss the eggplant growth stages in detail with the plant requirement in each stage.
- Seed Sowing Stage
This stage is the planting phase of the eggplant seed. The seed is small, circular, white or brown, and smooth textured. The seeds are mostly found in a matured fruit, containing up to 40 seeds. The seeds are dried, and the best, high-quality ones are picked and planted.
When planting the seed, ensure the soil is fertile, and the planting hole is about ¼ inch deep. You can plant the eggplant seed indoors in a container or in the garden field, provided the environmental conditions will support the growth of the growing seedlings.
The seeds are typically planted about eight to ten weeks before the anticipated frost day.
Condition for Sowing Eggplant Seeds
It’s important to sow the eggplant seed in warm soil, which is why most gardeners prefer to grow the seed indoors. In addition, moist soil rich in nutrients is required for the optimum growth of the seed.
The seeds grow best at temperatures between 60-95 degrees Celsius. Hence, if you plant the seed in a container, it’s advisable you keep exposing the container to sunlight during the day, and at nighttime, characterized by lower temperatures, the container is moved indoors. This is basically to ensure optimal eggplant growth stages.
2. Seed Germinating Stage
Typically, the seed is expected to germinate after one to two weeks of planting, depending on the viability and variety of the eggplant seed. The small spout observed during this period indicates the germinating seed.
To aid germination, the soil where the seed is planted should be warm, fertile, and moist.
Also, care should be taken while planting the seed to prevent too much depth so that the seed will surface quickly.
3. Seedling Stage
The little sprout germination continues to grow, producing leaflets and developing to the seedling stage. Typically, the seedling stage is between six and ten weeks of growth.
At this stage, the plant requires utmost care and optimum condition to ensure proper growth and prevent deficiencies. Water, temperature, and nutrient requirements are of high importance.
Water requirement depends on the humidity and temperature of the environment. For dry air, water should be applied to the soil regularly, but avoid flooding while watering the soil.
After continuous watering, if you notice the eggplant seedling looks leggy, it’s advisable to reduce the watering level for further stoppage on Diseases of Eggplant.
Once the seedling has grown to have about four to six leaves, you may transplant the leaves from the container to a garden field or a larger container to accommodate the plant better.
Remember, you shouldn’t transplant the seedlings too early because they are still fragile to cold water and lower soil temperature, which may lead to stunted growth, affect health benefits of eggplant or even death of the plant.
How To Transplant Eggplant Seedling
Before transplanting the eggplant seedling outside or to another container, consider the essential growth requirement: Warm, moist, and nutrient-rich soil. Then follow the steps below to transplant the seedling to the garden or a bigger container.
- Dig a hole as large as twice the size of the seedling root in depth and width
- Dig out the seedling from the container with enough soil and place the hole dug
- Cover the hole and the seedling root with enough soil
- Water the soil lightly with enough water, avoiding soil floss
- If you’re transplanting more than one seedling on a field or container, spacing should be at least 45-60cm in between plants and 60-90cm in between rows
- In addition, mulching should be done to conserve moisture and prevent weed growth
- If necessary, add a row cover to prevent exposure to too much sunlight during the hottest part of the day
4. Adult Plant Stage
At this time, your eggplant has adapted to the environmental condition, and you will spend less time and energy grooming it. This stage is characterized by numerous hairy branches with large leathery leaves that are slightly oval.
It blossoms stronger when the plant gets enough sunlight, nutrients, and water. You can improve soil fertility using appropriate fertilizer to supplement its deficiencies.
Typically, it takes about 70-120 days for the eggplant to reach this stage depending on the variety of the seed planted.
5. Flowering Stage
The flowering of all plants is similar to readiness for pregnancy or pregnancy in humans. In the adult stage, the eggplant begins to produce star-shaped purple-colored flowers. Its flowers are often used for ornamental purposes.
These flowers are self-pollinated; that is, they have both male (stamen) and female (pistil) organs present on each flower. Hence, they do not need insects or natural factors like the wind to aid plant pollination. Pollination leads to the formation of fruit.
Pollination of eggplant is affected by cold weather and high air humidity. As said earlier, warm soil and weather are the primary requirements for eggplant growth stages until fruit maturation. Hence, proper care should be taken with environmental requirements at this stage, as no pollination implies no fruit bearing.
In addition, we advise you to use potassium-containing fertilizers as potassium is a major macronutrient the eggplant needs to survive this stage.
Furthermore, at this flowering stage, the beautiful colored flower may attract insects, leading to pest attacks and the transfer of fungal diseases of eggplant that may damage the plant. Therefore, always look out for pests and any signs of disease.
Ensure you use appropriate pesticides and fungicides to combat any form of destruction to the plant.
6. Fruit Formation
After flower formation and self-pollination, the fruit begins to form in the flower ovule. The fruit maturation is characterized by its glossiness and color (deep purple, whitish-purple, or striped, depending on the seed variety).
If the fruit is glossy enough and shows the characteristic color, press the fruit skin with your thumb. If the fruit leaves an indentation, it’s ripe for harvesting.
You must ensure you prevent leaving the fruit for too long as it may begin to rot and shrivel. Therefore, ensure you check the fruit regularly to harvest them immediately if they are ripe enough.
Once the fruits mature, harvesting is done by carefully cutting the fruit from the stem using a sharp knife or garden shear. Ensure the cutter did not cut the fruit in any way, as the fruit will start to rot from that point.
Summarily, this is a video representation of the growth stages of eggplant and the condition requirements:
Common Pests and Diseases of Eggplant
As a gardener planting eggplant or interested in planting eggplant, you need to be familiar with the pests that mostly destroy eggplant. Knowing these potential pests and diseases is helpful for the optimum eggplant growth stages.
Here are some of the common pest, diseases of eggplant and the protective mechanism to prevent destruction.
Aphids are the most common eggplant pest that typically appears at the end of the season when gardeners are not actively spraying their plants. They affect the eggplant by lying on the underside of the leaves, where they pierce the leaf vein by injecting their sharp, pointed, and hollow mouthpart to suck its nutrient juices.
When this happens, the leaves start turning yellow, indicating the absence of nutrients and sugar from photosynthesis.
Another major problem is the aphid’s ability to secrete a sticky, sugary compound known as honeydew. This compound promotes mold formation. The presence of mold on the eggplant’s leaves reduces the rate of photosynthesis and cause Diseases of Eggplant.
You can control this pest biologically and chemically. Biologically, there are many beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, aphid lions, and hoverflies which, in sufficient amounts, will control the number of aphids in the eggplant field. These insects are natural enemies of aphids.
Chemically, you can control the pest using appropriate insecticides. The insecticide is diluted with an appropriate volume of water according to the manufacturer’s instructions and sprayed on the eggplant field to kill the aphids.
- Flea Beetles
Flea beetles always prefer eggplant as a host. They possess a chewing mouth part to consume succulent leaves and stem, creating holes in young plants and seedlings.
If damage is severe for the plant, especially on seedlings and young growing ones, it may lead to diseases of eggplant and death of the plant.
Generally, eggplants are prevented from this infestation using the row cover to provide a physical barrier protecting the young plant. In addition, insecticides such as carbaryl, spinosad, and bifenthrin can control the pests if they have already infested the eggplants for some weeks. There is no need to apply it regularly to prevent further infestation adequately.
- Stink Bugs
Stink bugs are brown insects with an unpleasant odor that affect seedlings, fruit, and young growing eggplant by piercing through them with their sucking mouth part. They draw nutrients and food from the plant leaving dark-colored pinpricks surrounded by lighter areas that turn yellow or remain green on the plant and fruit when sliced.
In addition, their sucking part may carry pathogens that may cause secondary infection, causing rot and decay in the fruit.
To prevent stink bugs from the plant, maintain a regular weed removal system. The weed may act as overwintering sites for stink bugs.
Also, you can control Stink bugs organically using insecticidal soaps and kaolin clay. Chemically by using appropriate insecticide. Biologically by preserving natural enemies.
- Spider Mites
Spider mites are visible on the underside of the eggplant leaves as moving tiny dots. They destroy the plant by inserting their piercing and sucking mouthparts into the plant stem and leaf vein, extracting the nutrient-rich plant sap.
Their population increases in hot and dry weather, with a large population creating webbings on the foliage.
The sucking action causes leaves to be filled with yellow and may sometimes appear bronzed.
Spraying the plant with a strong jet of water can reduce the spider mite build-up mass in a small-scale or home garden. You can control them chemically using appropriate chemical insecticides.
Hornworms are large green caterpillars with chewing mouthparts that destroy large amounts of leaf foliage and stem, leading to stunted growth and poor harvest.
They can be handpicked if the level of infestation is low and can be controlled organically (biologically) with sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis. This gram-positive bacteria is toxic to hornworms and safe for humans.
- Early Blight
This disease is a fungus (Alternaria solani) diseases of eggplant characterized by premature dropping of leaves, formation of brownish-black spots for the leaves, alternating rings of light and dark on leaves, and yellowing dry leaves.
It starts as a little black spot that may spread over the leaves and make the entire plant wilt. It may also jump from one infected plant to the other.
It is best controlled at an early stage by applying fungicide. In addition, it’s best to destroy highly infected plants to prevent jumping to unaffected plants.
- Blossom-end Rot
Blossom-end rot is an eggplant disease associated with nutrient deficiency, especially calcium. The low amount of calcium in the soil results in low calcium concentration in the fruit. In addition, fluctuation in soil moisture or excess application of nitrogen-containing fertilizer can also cause the disease.
To prevent this disease, we recommend you maintain a soil PH of 6.5 and lime the soil to increase calcium concentration in the soil. Also, avoid ammonium-containing fertilizer due to its high concentration of Nitrogen present; instead, use nitrate fertilizer to improve soil nitrogen.
Health Benefits of Eggplant
Eggplant has evolved from its traditional medicine usage of Indian ayurvedic medicine, where white eggplant fruits treat diabetes and roots to relieve asthma.
Studies show that they contain antioxidants like vitamin A and C, which helps to prevent free radicals produced during the metabolism process (such as fat oxidation) from damaging cells and tissues.
Also, it contains high levels of polyphenols. Polyphenols help cells metabolize sugar, especially in diabetes patients resulting in reduced blood sugar.
In addition, certain studies have shown that eggplant contains certain chemicals (Polyphenols, Anthocyanins, and chlorogenic acid) which can protect the body from cancer. In the long term, these chemicals prevent tumor growth.
The antioxidant activity of these chemicals prevents damage of cells which may later form undesirable growth and tumor.
This article shows that eggplant is a must-have plant in your vegetable garden. Follow this guide to accurately care for your eggplant accurately, providing ultimate care and optimum growth conditions.