Note: Each section on this page contains multiple topics. Click on the tabs in each section for more information.

  1. Eggplants are native to India and have been cultivated in Southeast Asia for thousands of years.
  2. These tropical plants which do best in warm soil and full sun.
  3. Eggplant flowers are violet coloured. The fruit comes in a range of sizes and shapes (round, long)  and can be purple (plain, striped or mottled) or white.
  4. Eggplants are so named because when they were introduced in Europe in the mid 1800's, the cultivar was the size and shape of a goose egg. Other names for eggplant are aubergine and brinjal.
  5. Eggplants belong to the nightshade family and are related to tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. 
  1. Eggplants originated in India and their fruits resembled small eggs, hence the name.
  2. Arabs carried eggplant to Europe. Eventually, Spanish explorers brought it to the Americas.
  3. Up until the early 19th century, most eggplants grown in the Americas were for ornamental purposes. Since they are members of the usually poisonous Nightshade family, people assumed they were also poisonous.
  4. China consumes the most eggplant in the world.
  5. Botanically, eggplant is a fruit. It is often referred to as a vegetable as it isn’t sweet and we tend associate fruits with sweetness or dessert. So are tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, or any other “vegetable” that has seeds inside.

Eggplants are high in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Check here for detailed information from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

The Canadian Food Guide recommends that roughly half of the food on your plate should be fruits and vegetables.

Canada Food Guide: What's On Your Plate?

Growing outdoors

Click on the tabs above for more information!

Eggplants prefer sandy loam, loam or clay loam soils for good fruit production, but tolerate a range of soil conditions. Prepare the garden soil well in advance, adding organic matter and compost.  The soil should be of good tilth: soft, crumbly and easily worked. They also do well in containers filled with soil-less potting mix provided they are adequately fertilized.

Eggplants need full sun for highest yields and are not suitable for partial shade or shady areas. If you have a partially shaded garden, you may be more successful if you grow them in a container in a sunnier spot. Eggplants tend to have few diseases.

While eggplants can be grown in containers indoors, they typically do best outdoors. (See below for details)

Eggplants require a long, warm growing season and must be transplanted in the Prairie garden. Eggplant transplants can be grown in your home or purchased from a local greenhouse.

Starting your own eggplants from seed:

  • Start transplants 4 weeks prior to planting out, ideally about two weeks after your last frost free date in spring. In Saskatoon, your frost free date is May 13 so start indoors around the end of April, allowing for planting well after the last frost free date.
  • These timelines can be shifted with season extending methods such as heating the soil and using water-based transplant sleeves like ‘Wall O’Water’®
  • Sow seeds 0.5 - 1 cm deep in a commercial soil-less media containing peat moss or coir, with perlite and vermiculite.  Soil-less media provides a disease-free environment as well as excellent drainage to minimize root disease problems. 
  • Use flats, pots or containers with bottom drainage holes.  At a soil media temperature of  25-29˚C, seeds will germinate in 7 -10 days. Seedling heating mats help to maintain warm soil temperatures for seed germination. 
  • Good lighting is crucial for the growth of healthy seedlings. 
  • Leave a fan blowing on your young seedlings as they grow to will help to grow heartier plants and to reduce some seedling diseases.
  • For more details, check out our article on growing your own transplants.

The ideal eggplant seedling:

  • Is approximately 15 cm tall.
  • Has not yet flowered or set fruit.
  • Has dark green leaves.
  • Has a good root system but is not root-bound (tight, hard ball of roots that do not break apart when gently massaged). 
  • Has a strong and sturdy stem.  The internodes (spaces between leaves along the stem) will be small.  Transplants that are too tall will tend to break and dry out more easily once planted out into the garden.  Research has shown that stem diameter can be increased and height controlled by providing seedlings with constant air movement from an oscillating fan – or by lightly brushing seedling tops with a tea towel or stick at least 20 times daily.

Start fertilizing after the seedlings have their first true leaves. Wait a few days before fertilizing if you have transplanted your seedlings. Fertilize developing transplants two times/week using 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer.  Mix according to label directions.

Eggplant transplants must be hardened off before transplanting outdoors.


  • Eggplants must be planted as transplants and not sown as seeds. See our transplants tab for tips on growing or purchasing eggplant transplants.
  • Eggplants are a warm season crop so they are very sensitive to cold temperatures and frost damage. Be prepared to protect plants with covers or blankets in the event of late spring/early summer frosts. The “average day of the last spring frost” in the Saskatoon area is typically May 13, but it's best to transplant a week or two after that date.
  • These timelines can be shifted with season extending methods such as heating the soil and using water-based transplant sleeves like ‘Wall O’Water’®.
  • Eggplant transplants must be hardened off before transplanting outdoors.

Planting instructions

  • Gently massage the roots within the plug so that the roots will grow into the surrounding soil and not remain restricted within the ball.
  • When planting, cover the entire transplant “plug” or seed ball with soil to prevent the plant from drying out.  Exposed peat within the plug will act as a wick, drawing water away from the transplant and drying out the root ball.
  • Ideally, transplant on a cool, cloudy day. Hot, windy days will easily desiccate tender transplants.
  • Avoid planting into cooler soil. For extra protection for your newly planted eggplant transplants, place tin cans or milk cartons with the tops and bottom removed around the transplants and insert containers several centimeters into the soil. Not only does this provide some wind protection and increase soil temperature, but it may also discourage cut worms.
  • Eggplants should spaced 45 - 60 cm apart within the row, allowing 75 - 90 cm between rows.
  • Water-in the transplants with a starter fertilizer higher in phosphorous for good root growth (ex. 10-52-10) Mix according to label directions.

Don't forget to label what you planted. It's also helpful to draw a map or take a photo of your vegetable garden to help you track planting locations and success each year. This information is critical if you're rotating your crops to help prevent insect and disease issues.

  • For gardeners that want to get an early jump on the growing season, warm up the soil with ‘Wall O’Water’®: a series of plastic tubes filled with water joined together to form a wall of water around the transplant.  ‘Wall O’ Water’® can protect plants to -11˚C.  Eggplant transplants could be planted out at least 2 weeks earlier on the Prairies provided the soil under the ‘Wall O’ Water’® has also been warmed.
  • Eggplants are a ‘warm season crop’. This means they prefer warm temperatures and very sunny conditions for optimal growth.  Eggplants will benefit from planting in black, clear or dark green plastic mulch. The mulch increases soil temperature as well as conserving soil moisture and suppressing weed growth.
  • Eggplants will also benefit from supported crop covers throughout the season; the covers will warm the air surrounding the plants and encourage plants to flower, fruit and mature earlier than outside covers.  Because eggplants are self-pollinating, it is unnecessary to remove the cloth covers during the growing season except to weed.  
  • Perforated clear plastic tunnels or covers are not recommended as temperatures can be extreme, which can cause eggplant flowers to abort.     
  • Factors to consider when deciding what eggplant cultivar to grow include; taste, days to maturity, end use, disease resistance and availability.
  • Eggplants that require more than ’75 days to maturity’ will probably not fully mature during an average Saskatchewan growing season.

Here are cultivar recommendations from the North Dakota State University Cultivar Trials, as they share a similar prairie climate and soils. You may download their list here: North Dakota State University Vegetable Cultivar Recommendations for 2021

  • Black Beauty, Dusky, Fairy Tale, Millionaire, Orient Express

The following cultivars are recommendations from the University of Saskatchewan vegetable program field trials which were conducted from 1989 through 2016. 

  • Anamur, Black Beauty, Black Bell, Classic, Traviata, Dusky, Epic, Ghostbuster, Imperial Black Beauty, Night Shadow, Ophelia, Suraj, Galine


Eggplant benefit from a steady supply of soil moisture throughout the growing season. Consistent moisture will prevent blossom end rot.

Actively growing eggplants need 2.5 cm water/week. They also benefit from mulch, in the garden or in a pot. 

Eggplants will also benefit from supported crop covers throughout the season; the covers will warm the air surrounding the plants and encourage plants to flower, fruit and mature earlier than outside covers. Because eggplants are self-pollinating, it is not necessary to remove the cloth covers during the growing season except to weed. However, the presence of bumblebees can improve pollination.

Perforated clear plastic tunnels or covers are not recommended as temperatures can be extreme under this clear plastic, causing  flowers to abort.

Plants with heavy fruit may benefit from staking. A tomato cage works well for this. 

Pinch off blossoms about three weeks before your first average fall frost. The plant will put energy into ripening existing fruit versus producing new fruit which may not ripen in time.


Eggplants are not suitable for fall seeding.

Coming soon

Forgot what you planted? Not sure if it's a weed? Germination in carrots


See our preservation section for more videos.

Growing in containers and indoors

Click on the tabs above for more information!

Eggplants can be grown in a container indoors or outdoors.

Plant a single eggplant plant in a large container with a hole in the bottom. The container should be at least 8 liters (2 gallon) or larger to allow space for a healthy root system.

See: Vegetable container gardening

Eggplants can be grown indoors but need supplemental lighting.

See our Growing indoors page for detailed growing advice.

Small-fruited and dwarf varieties are suited to containers, but even the larger types do well in containers provided they are planted in a large enough container.

This is a good method for watering any vegetable grown in a container.

Saving seeds

Click on the tabs above for more information!

Seeds are expected to be shelf-stable for one year from date of sale if purchased from a reputable retailer. If you wish to save your seeds beyond that, you should store them in the fridge in a jar. Seeds lose viability quickly if they dry out too much or get too warm.

The life expectancy of eggplant seed stored under favourable conditions is about three to four years.

Seeds stored under less favourable conditions will show poor germination after just a single year of storage. Beyond this, you can expect your germination rates to go down (ie. not all of your seeds will grow, but some might). To test your seeds, you can do a simple germination test. Follow the link for instructions. If you are still getting some seeds germinating, seed more thickly and thin any extra.

Eggplant seeds can be saved from “heritage” or “open-pollinated” plants. Note that if you have different varieties of eggplants growing in close proximity, there is a chance of cross-breeding.

If the plant tag or seed package from the original plant says “hybrid”, the plants grown from seeds collected from hybrid plants won't look the same next year.

How to save eggplant seeds:

  1. Eggplant seeds may still be immature even if the fruit is mature enough to eat. If possible, leave one or two fruits on the plant until just before frost to continue ripening. Select healthy eggplants that are over-ripe. Purple eggplants that are over-ripe tend to be almost brown in colour, while white ones tend to become more yellow. The skin on over-ripe eggplants is dull instead of glossy and the fruit feels a bit soft.
  2. Cut into the fruit - mature seeds are dark in colour, very small and usually embedded in the flesh. If the fruit is soft, scrape the seedy areas out of the flesh. If the fruit is firm, cut away the seedy areas with a sharp knife. 
  3. One way to separate the seeds from the flesh is to place the flesh in a blender with an equal amount of water. Place masking tape over the sharp edge of the blender blade to prevent damaging the seeds. Blend into a slurry.
  4. Pour the slurry into a larger container and add more water. Mature seeds should settle in the bottom of the container. Scoop off the pulp (at the top) and pour the mixture through a fine sieve. Continue rinsing with cool water to wash away remaining pulp. 
  5. Place seeds on a teatowel or paper towel and allow to dry, changing the towels as needed.
  6. When seeds are completely dry, store in a small envelope (marked with the name of the eggplant and the year of harvest) inside a sealed jar in the fridge.


Click on the tabs above for more information!
  • Harvest eggplants early in the day before temperatures rise.
  • Eggplants can be harvested anytime the fruit has glossy skin and is of an acceptable size (not necessarily full grown).
  • Maturity time needed for transplants to produce fruit is between 45 and 70 days (depending on the cultivar) from the time it was planted.
  • Pinch off blossoms about three weeks before your first average fall frost. The plant will put energy into ripening existing fruit versus producing new fruit which may not ripen in time.

  season-extending options.

Harvest eggplants by cutting the stem with a sharp knife, at any size when the fruit skin is glossy.



Click on the tabs above for more information!
  • Ideal storage conditions for freshly harvested eggplants are 7˚C, 90-95% humidity. Store in the crisper in your refrigerator where they will keep for up to 2 weeks.
  • Temperatures below 7°C will cause chilling injury to the fruit. Fruit may develop pits or brown spots.
Dehydrating zucchini is similar to dehydrating eggplant.
Eggplants can be frozendehydrated, or canned.

Cooking and preserving

Click on the tabs above for more information!



Alternative ways to eat common vegetables



Click on the tabs above for more information!

Eggplants are relatively low maintenance. Providing their water, light and soil needs are managed they don't tend to get a lot of issues. Most years, the primary issue with peppers is frost or inconsistent watering. 

A cool growing season can weaken plants and cause poor fruit set.

Hot, dry summers are especially problematic as high heats may cause eggplants to abort their flowers.

See the Common problems tab on this page for advice on other specific eggplant issues.


Common questions

Eggplant flowers have both male and female reproductive parts. They self-fertile but benefit from wind or "buzz pollinators" like bumblebees to move pollen from the stamens to the style.

Pollination problems can happen in sheltered areas with still air and lack of access to bumblebees.

You can help with pollination by simply flicking the flowers with your fingers. Another way is to use an electric toothbrush (minus the brush) and hold it to each flower. The vibration of the toothbrush mimics the buzzing of bumblebees which encourages the pollen to drop on to the style.

Weather also plays a role in poor fruit production - cool temperatures over the summer can reduce flower production and fruit set.

Research and student activities

Click on the tabs above for more information!