svg How to Grow Eggplant Indoors | Urban Leaf

How to Grow Eggplant Indoors

Did you know? Eggplants are botanically considered berries, like watermelon, blueberries, and tomatoes. Yet at the same time, they’re considered a vegetable in gastronomy. In this blog, we’ll be talking about growing eggplant indoors, from basic facts, supplies, setup, and steps to grow, care for and harvest it.

Plant type

Perennial grown as annual

Family

Solanaceae

Binomial name

Solanum melongena

 

Timing

Eggplant sprouts in 1-2 weeks and it can be harvested from Month 3 on.


Part sun

Growing eggplant indoors needs an equivalent of 7+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 21+ mol/m²/day].

Care

Growing eggplant indoors is for intermediate gardeners. You’ll sprout, thin, prune, and pollinate.

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Ways to Grow Eggplant Indoors

Growing Eggplant Indoors Using Soil vs Hydroponics

Growing Eggplant Indoors Using Soil

Eggplants do well in moist soil conditions. If the soil dries out completely the roots will die back and it will be tough for the plant to recover. At the same time, however, if the roots are exposed to standing water for too long, they can rot.

Growing Eggplant Indoors Using Hydroponics

Yes, eggplants can be grown using hydroponic systems. However, keep in mind that they take longer to harvest compared to herbs as we harvest their fruits instead of their leaves, and these won’t show until after 80-90 days.

Equipment Needed for Growing Eggplant Indoors Using Soil

We prefer using a Ceramic Self Watering Planter filled with a standard potting mix that self-regulates to keep the soil at consistent moisture for your plant to thrive (and no watering guesswork for you). 

To set one up:

  1. Fill up the planter with dry soil from the bag, gently tamping down the top.
  2. Dump the soil into a large mixing bowl and add water until the soil is moist, but not sopping wet (about ½ Cup)
  3. Mix in 1 tablespoon of the Herb Blend Plant Food.
If you are using a regular pot instead, it should be a little bit bigger (at least 8" / 1 gal and will need drainage holes to prevent it from being overwatered. Let the top of the soil dry out between watering.

See below to learn more about indoor gardening and grab a FREE copy of our eBook to learn more about all the different ways you can grow eggplants (and more!) at home.

 

Care and Maintenance of Eggplant Indoors

Lighting for Growing Eggplant Indoors

Vegetables grown and harvested for their fruits such as eggplants have the highest light needs of any plant - so unless you have a totally unobstructed southern-facing window and plan on only growing in the summer - you’ll need a grow light. We still recommend taking advantage of your bright window (sunlight is free and great for plants!) and supplementing it with a grow light. 

For an introduction to grow lights, head over to our post on grow lights for indoor gardeners. We’ve also got a buying guide for screw in types of grow light, but to keep things simple in this guide, we’ll just provide directions for the 24W Screw in Bulb by Sansi, which we think is a good middle-of-the-road option. 

How bright should your grow light be? 

Eggplants need the equivalent of 7+ hours of direct sunlight [DLI of 21+ mol/m²/day] to grow their best. In order to provide an equivalent amount with a grow light, it needs to be pretty bright! The 24W Sansi bulb should be placed 6 inches away from the top of the plant. This will give your PPFD (the standard measure of brightness) of 500 μmol/m²/s.

How many hours per day do your Eggplants need under a grow light?

Eggplants are daylight neutral meaning that they develop faster with over 12 hours of light (and only need 6 hours of darkness to rest) so setting your timer to light your plants for 14+ hours is best. 

What is the Right Temperature for Your Indoor Eggplant?

Eggplants Grow Faster in Warmer Temps

Eggplants are called “warm-weather crops” and like temperatures right around 80°F (26.6°C). They will grow fine in conditions between 60 and 90°F (15.5°C and 32.2°C) but can lose their fruit if it drops below 40°F (4°C). On the other hand, if they are too hot, they will drop their blossoms, wilt, and stop ripening.  Most homes are in a good range - and a south-facing sunny window can help get a plant the extra heat if needed.

Water and Humidity for Indoor Eggplants

Vegetables such as eggplants thrive on consistent moisture but can suffer if they’re waterlogged, so make sure to water them regularly especially if you’re using soil.

Nutrients and Fertilizers

Eggplant likes to start with nutrients that are high in nitrogen (with NPK numbers like 10-5-5). For this All-purpose Blend, we recommend: Joyful Dirt All Purpose

Once they are growing, it’s better to use plant food that is high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen (with NPK numbers like 4-10-6). For this Vegetable Blend, we recommend: Joyful Dirt Eggplant & Herb

Timeline and Steps on How to Grow Eggplant  Indoors

Best Setup for Growing Eggplant Indoors

Below is the best setup (and a very easy one!) for growing your eggplants indoors. You’ll need:

Planter: 

Ceramic Self Watering Planter (preferred) or a pot that is at least 8" / 1 gal.

Soil: 

Standard Potting Mix

Plant Food:

At the start: Herb Blend. This should be high in nitrogen (with NPK numbers like 10-5-5). 

Ongoing: Vegetable Blend. This should be high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen (with NPK numbers like 4-10-6).

Grow Light:

A strong grow light that can give the equivalent of 7+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 21+ mol/m²/day].

Starting your Eggplant: Seed vs Cutting vs Nursery Plant

Eggplants can be started from seed, propagated from an established plant, or purchased live at many garden centers. We prefer to sprout from seed or propagate from a stem cutting, as it results in plants that are adapted to your growing conditions and limit the chances that you accidentally bring home pests.)

How to Plant Eggplant Seeds Indoors

Eggplant grows quickly from the seed. Plant 1 site in an 8" / 1 gal container. In larger containers, space sites 8" apart. For each site plant 3 seeds 1/4 inches deep. Keep the soil warm ( 65-90°F, ideally 85°F. Sprouts typically appear in 10 days but can be as quick as 7 days or as long as 15 days depending on your conditions. 

Propagating Eggplant: How to Clone from a Stem Cutting

If you’ve already got an Eggplant you love (or a friend does!) you can easily “clone” it with just sharp scissors and a clean glass of water. First, cut a couple 6” shoots of new growth (avoid anything woody). Next, remove the lower leaves, so the bottom half is just stem. Place in a glass of 3” of water, making sure the cut leaf spots are underwater. 

Place the glass on a bright windowsill and change the water every few days. In a couple of weeks, roots should emerge, and you can transplant them into your container. While using additional rooting hormones won't hurt, it’s not necessary with eggplants. 

  1. Cut 6” section of new growth
  2. Remove leaves halfway and place them in the water on a sunny windowsill 
  3. Wait 7 days for a few ½-inch roots to form and carefully transplant them into their final container

    How to Transplant Eggplant

    Live starter plants give you a big jump start on your first harvest. When you’re in a garden center - pick the bushiest plant available (tall and lanky ones will be weak growers) and give it a good inspection for pests. Leaves should be dark green without holes, spots, or curled edges. A best practice is to actually “quarantine” your plant for about a week after bringing it home to make sure it's free and clear of ride-on pests. 

    Ensuring it’s pest and disease-free it’s time to transplant your seedling into its final home.

    1. Remove some soil from its final planter - leaving enough space for the bottom of the seedling to be just higher than the soil surface.
    2. Hold on to the base of the stem with one hand, and turn the pot over while gently pulling the seedling. Giving the pot a few squeezes can help dislodge it.  
    3. Place in its final container and fill around it with soil so that it’s tight, but not compacted.  

    Week 1-2: Check for Sprouts

    You could see seedlings in as little as 7 days (though 10 days is more typical). If it’s been 15 days and you still don’t have any sprouts, it’s likely that your setup is too cold.

    Week 3: Thin Your Seedlings

    Thin your planter to only have 1 seedling per site -  leaving the largest plant. If you are using the recommended planter (at least 8" / 1 gal) this will mean you’ve got 1 plant after thinning.  By getting rid of the smaller seedlings, you’re allowing the biggest and strongest one to flourish by reducing its competition for water, food, and space. 

    If your seedlings are under 2 inches, stretching out, or folding over, it’s likely that they don't have quite enough light.

    Month 3: How to Harvest Eggplant

    Eggplants get sweeter and more flavorful when they ripen. During this ripening time, you’ll also reduce the amount of water that the roots get. Once they develop deep color and they come off the plant with a gentle pull, it’s time. It’s a bit more art than science, but if the first-picked eggplants aren’t flavorful enough, then just wait a little longer to try the rest. You’ll develop your feel in no time.

    How to Use Your Freshly-harvested Eggplant in Cooking

    Eggplants are a staple in kitchens all over the world and are used in various dishes. Here are some of its uses in cooking: 

    1. Curried
    2. Made into pizza
    3. Made into appetizers like salads
    4. Stir-fried and many many more

    Check out some more of our favorite eggplant recipes here.

    How to Preserve Eggplants

    There are so many ways to preserve or keep your vegetables fresh, and here are just some of the easiest and the ones we recommend most for eggplants:

    1. Freezing. Slice them up, boil, and keep them in a tightly-sealed container. Then put it inside your freezer.
    2. Pickling
    3. Roasting

    Month 6+: End of Life

    If you can provide your plants with good light nutrients and proper pruning, you should be able to get a few harvests out of your plant.

    If you’d like to learn about the dozens of other herbs, fruits, and vegetables that you can grow indoors then grab a copy of our free eBook below. 

     

    Best Eggplant Varieties to Grow Indoors

    There are quite a few varieties of eggplants but here are our top recommendations. Most eggplants can be grown indoors, especially their “compact” varieties.

    Variety

    Patio Baby F1

    Fairy Tale F1

    Why we like them

    Patio baby f1s are productive and highly-recommended for indoor growing.

    Fairy tale eggplants are petite and compact, and come with ornamental miniature eggplants! Perfect for indoor growing as well.

    Purchase Link

    Amazon

    Amazon

    We hope that this blog has given you everything you need to know about growing eggplant indoors. In case you have any questions, just leave a comment below.

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