Eggplant grows best with heat and rich soil. You will need a minimum of three months of warm to hot weather to grow eggplant successfully. Choose whether you want to grow eggplant from seed or purchase a started plant. You will have a larger selection of varieties available from seed, but growing started plants is easier. In either case, decide on a variety that matches your growing conditions. Some eggplants, such as epic, mature faster and perform better in areas with shorter summer seasons. For container gardening, consider Easter egg.
You will need to plan if you intend to grow eggplant from seed. Start the seeds indoors eight weeks before the last frost for your area. Prepare an area inside to place the seeds. A heat mat boosts germination time and increases the success of seed starting.
Use a lightweight seed-starting soil. You can purchase special seed-starting trays or start in small pots. Fill the pots or tray with the soil mix. Soak the soil thoroughly, allowing excess water to drain. Place the seeds a quarter of an inch deep in the soil. Firm the soil over them.
Place the tray or pot on the heat mat. The seeds should sprout within two weeks. Keep the seed-starting mix moist at all times. Place a grow light or fluorescent light 4 inches above the small sprouts. Leave the light on for a minimum of 12 hours per day. If you started the seeds in a tray, you will need to transplant them to 3-inch pots as they grow.
Choose a location that receives full sun. Prepare the planting bed in late fall or early spring. Dig the bed, or till, to a depth of 8 to 12 inches. Mix in a 3-inch layer of compost. Cover with a 3-inch layer of mulch or a black plastic mulch.
Transplant your seedlings or purchased plants outdoors when nighttime temperatures remain above 50 degrees F. The soil temperature should be around 70 degrees. Space eggplants at least 2 feet apart in all directions. Pull back the mulch or cut an X into the plastic. Dig a hole using a trowel that is twice as wide, with approximately the same depth as the pot. Gently place the eggplant in the hole. Water thoroughly and replace the mulch.
Feed the eggplant with a 10-10-10 fertilizer, following the directions on the container. Provide 1 to 2 inches of water per week during dry periods. Keep the bed weed-free.
About this Author
Kit Arbuckle is a freelance writer specializing in topics such as health, alternative medicine, beauty, senior care, pets and landscaping. She has training in landscaping and a certification in medicinal herbs from a botanical sanctuary.