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University of Minnesota Extension

Growing eggplant in home gardens

Quick facts

  • Eggplant needs warm weather and will not thrive during a cool season.
  • When buying plants, choose sturdy plants up to a foot tall.
  • Start eggplant seeds about eight weeks before planting them outside.
  • Transplant outdoors after nighttime low temperatures are above 50°F.
  • Install plant supports at the time of planting.
  • Use mulch to heat the soil and reduce root damage.
  • Harvest eggplants when they have reached mature size; clip them off with sharp shears. 

Eggplant is a short season vegetable

Purple and white Fairy Tale eggplants growing on plant

Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a relative of peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco.

Eggplant needs warm conditions, and will not thrive during a cool season. There are varieties available that thrive in Minnesota’s short summer season.

Soil pH and fertility

  • Have your soil tested.
  • A soil pH between 5.5 and 7.5 is best.
  • Apply phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) should be applied according to soil test recommendations.
    • Many Minnesota soils have enough phosphorus.
    • Unless your soil test report specifically recommends additional phosphorus, use a low- or no-phosphorus fertilizer.
  • Improve your soil by adding well-rotted manure or compost in spring or fall.
  • Too much nitrogen fertilization will lead to plants that are bushy, leafy and slow to bear fruit.
  • Do not use any fertilizer containing a weed killer ("Weed and Feed"), as it may kill your vegetable plants.
  • Eggplants benefit from black plastic mulch because it helps to heat the soil and reduces root damage. Do not apply mulch before the soil has warmed in the spring.

Buying plants

If you buy plants from a garden center, choose sturdy plants up to a foot tall. They should have stems at least the width of a pencil and the leaves should be closely spaced up the stem. Do not buy plants with spots on their leaves, as you could be bringing disease into your garden.

If you buy plants from a mail-order catalog, you may need to keep them indoors until it is time to set them out. Treat them as if you had started them yourself.



How to keep your eggplants healthy and productive


Managing pests, diseases, and disorders

Many things can affect eggplant leaves, flowers and fruit. Changes in physical appearance and plant health can be caused by the environment, plant diseases, insects and wildlife. In order to address what you’re seeing, it is important to make a correct diagnosis.

You can find additional help identifying common pest problems by using the online diagnostic tools or by sending a sample to the UMN Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. You can use Ask a Master Gardener to share pictures and get advice.


Authors: Marissa Schuh, Extension educator, and Cindy Tong, Extension horticulturalist

Reviewed in 2023

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