By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
The versatility and nutritional appeal of eggplants make them a perfect food for manyrecipes. These heat loving veggies need a long growing season and plenty ofsunshine. Can you grow eggplants indoors? It will be a bit tricky and requiressome extra attention compared to garden grown plants, but it can be done. Keepreading for some tips on indoor eggplants and the secret to getting them tofruit.
Some people call them aubergines, but by any name eggplantsare a dining treat. Growing eggplants inside is a bit tricky because it isdifficult to provide enough heat and candle hours of light. The obvioussolution is to build a grow system that not only enhances heat but includesgrow lights. It still might not result in fruit, but you will have an eleganteggplant as a houseplant.
Eggplants are in the same family as peppersand tomatoes,the nightshade family. When growing eggplants inside, be cautious that curiousanimals and small children won’t try to nibble on the foliage, which is toxic.Select one of the smaller eggplantvarieties due to space restrictions.
The first condition to tackle is heat. Eggplants germinateat 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C.) or higher. You will really have to turn up theheat and probably use a heat mat to get sprouts. During the plant’sdevelopment, that high temperature must be maintained. Amping up the heat atleast 10 more degrees will help the plant set blooms and fruit.
Even with a southern window, it is going to be hard toprovide adequate light. Use grow lights to give the plants at least 8 to10 hours of full sun. High output T5 lights will provide enough light andproduce a bit of heat, too. Overhead lighting is sufficient for initial growth.
For best results, add peripheral lights once the plantstarts to flower. This will help drive fruit production by allowing light toreach under the leaves and go directly towards the flowers and fruit. To keepthe heat and lights confined, usea grow tent. This will focus the light and keep the temperatures high. Keepplants moist and encourage humidity.
Eggplants are self-pollinating, butthey rely upon the wind and insect activity to move pollen to flowers. Havingan eggplant as a houseplant means you have to hand pollinate. Shaking the plant will helpstir up pollen but a more direct method will work best. Use a small paint brushor cotton swab and swizzle it around each flower, dispensing pollen as you go.
Fruiting will stop if temperatures get over 95 degreesFahrenheit (35 C.), so you will need to watch the heat.
Eggplants need to be kept evenly moist with humidity around65-75 percent. Fertilize when plants begin to flower with a good tomatofood.
Aphidsand spidermites are the most common pests which can be combated by rinsing them offor using horticultural oil.
With a bit of extra work, growing eggplants inside ispossible, and you can expect some fruit with good care.
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Read more about Eggplants
Many people who don’t like regular eggplants enjoy Indian varieties. The flavor is sweeter, and the texture is less mushy.
The unique and bizarre range of colors you can get from various varieties make growing Indian eggplants a showy way to add nutritious and tasty fruit to your garden. These tiny eggplants grow well in containers, making it easy for gardeners to grow even when space is limited.