Growing Eggplant In Florida


Growing eggplant in Florida is easy peasy as long as you get your timing right.

When do I plant eggplant in Florida? The best time to plant eggplant in Florida is April. Eggplant is a warm loving plant and cool weather will slow its growth. Florida friendly varieties are Black Beauty, Ichiban, and Long.

If the weather is not warm enough eggplant will patiently sit there until temperatures rise. Read on for some more basic care tips. How to fertilize eggplant, do I need to prune eggplant and how long does it take for eggplant to grow?

Best Time To Plant Eggplant In Florida

Eggplant likes warm weather but that doesn’t mean that it likes our Florida summers. The best time to plant is when our spring time starts to heat up but before the summer heat gets too intense.

I’m in central Florida and I’ve found the best time to plant is mid-April to the beginning of May. This is when I’ve seen the most growth for my plants.

Those in north Florida may have to wait a tiny bit longer and those in south Florida may be able to plant a little bit earlier.

I’ve found that when nighttime temperatures begin to rise is when my eggplant started to grow. I bought transplants from our local nursery in March and we had some nights down into the 50s and while my eggplant didn’t die, it certainly didn’t grow.

Florida Friendly Varieties Of Eggplant

There are loads of eggplant varieties. Black Beauty is the classic eggplant that you see in the store. But you can get a lot more creative with eggplant, there are white ones and there are long skinny ones and even small round ones.

  • Astrakom
  • Bambino (Dwarf)
  • Black Beauty
  • Casper
  • Dusky
  • Green Goddess (green fruit)
  • Ichiban
  • Long
The long variety of eggplant fruiting in central Florida at the end of May

The dwarf variety Bambino is great for those with limited space. They only grow up to about a foot tall and make small clusters of eggplants. They are great for kabobs!

This is not a complete list. There are all sorts of varieties out there. If you see some seeds that arent on this list I would say give them a try. All varieties of eggplant love warm weather and plenty of sun.

How Much Sun Does Eggplant Need?

The best spot to plant your eggplant is in a spot that gets at least 7-8 hours of sun. More sun certainly won’t kill your plant, they can take as much sun as you can give them.

However, if they are planted in part shade, meaning that they get around 4-6 hours of sun every day, your plant will just sit there. They will not produce a whole lot of growth.

4-6 hours of sunlight simply isn’t enough sun to energize a healthy productive eggplant.

Planting Eggplant

When planting eggplant you can either direct sow your seeds right into the garden or you can buy transplants to put into your garden. Growing from seed is beneficial because you can choose a larger selection of varieties than what your local nursery offers.

When growing your eggplant UF recommends a spacing of about 2-3 feet per plant. I’ve found good luck growing my plants closer together than this. I’ve also seen others online give their eggplants less space than this but still have good results.

I think that if you give each plant about a foot and a half of space all the way around they will be perfectly fine.

When eggplants begin to mature they will be covered in fruit. This may cause your plant to slump to one side or the other. It’s a good idea to stake your plant before fruit begins to set.

Watering Eggplant

Eggplant is a drought tolerant plant. Some people say that they’ve let their eggplants soil get bone dry and they still have happy looking plants.

Even though eggplants are tolerant of a dry spell this doesn’t mean that you should ignore them. A well-watered eggplant will produce more fruits than one that is stressed with drought conditions.

Like most vegetables eggplant doesn’t like their roots to be drenched but they like a moist environment with good airflow.

Best Soil For Eggplant

A good soil will make watering easier and will make your plant happier. If you are planting directly into your Florida dirt I would suggest at the very least you add compost and a thick layer of mulch.

Adding these two things is never a bad idea.

I’ve had really good luck growing my eggplants in 10 gallon Cloth pots (Check price on Amazon) with a soil mixture that looks like this:

I’ve used peat moss instead of Coco coir in the past but I’ve recently switched to coco coir because it is less acidic and better for the environment while it serves the same purpose.

You can find compost and perlite pretty easy at your local box store but you may have a hard time finding worm castings and Mykos there. These two ingredients are 100% necessary but I think they add a nice boost that your plant will enjoy.

Worm castings are a high nitrogen fertilizer that will help your plants get started and Mykos is a beneficial fungus that helps your plants take up those nutrients. They are like a one-two punch.

Fertilizing Eggplant

Eggplant is in the same family as tomatoes and peppers. They should be fertilized the same.

Each nutrient does something different for your plant. The three numbers on the bag are the N-P-K values. Nitrogen(N) helps the plant produce green leafy growth, Phosphorus(P) helps the plant flower and produce fruit, and Potassium(K) boosts the plant’s overall health.

Eggplant flowering

When first planting I’ve found it helpful to fertilize with something that is more nitrogen focused. If you got worm castings with your soil mix then you are all set, but if you are in need of a nitrogen focused fertilizer I recommend Fish fertilizer (Check price on Amazon). This stuff is kinda stanky but my plants love it.

As soon as I see first fruit set I fertilize with a phosphorus focused fertilizer like bone meal(check price on Amazon). This will help the plant pump energy into making more flowers and fruits.


Eggplants can actully be harvested at anytime during it’s growth. The fruit does not need to ripen up. The only factor detering you from harvesting is size.

A small, baby eggplant will taste the same as a large fully mature eggplant.

Eggplant will grow to a set size depending on the variety that you are growing. You don’t want your eggplant to stay on your plant too long because if it does it will begin to taste bitter.

On average, from the time the fruit sets to the time it is fully mature, is usually about 30 days. You can tell that your eggplants are ready for harvesting by giving them a little squeeze.

If the fruits have some give to them and a firm press leaves an indentation than your eggplants are at the ideal condition for harvest.

Eggplant Pests In Florida

  • Aphids
  • Leafminers
  • Thrips
  • Whitefly

These are all common vegetable garden pests. They will feast on your eggplant as well as your peppers. Aphids are small greenish-yellow bugs that will cluster up under your leaves.

Leafminers burrow into the levaes if the plant to lay their eggs. They leave trails throughout the leaves.Thrips damage your plant’s leaves by laying their eggs on the underside. And White flies damage your plant by piercing your plant with their pointy mouth and spreading disease.

Neem oil and insecticidal soaps are good organic chemical controls (Check pest management in gardening essentials) However the best pest management is having a biodiverse garden. Planting Florida friendly plants that bring beneficial insects is the best pest defense.

If you want more info on attracting beneficial bugs to your Florida garden check out this post.

Growing Eggplant In Florida

  • Plant when the weather begins to warm right around April.
  • Florida friendly varieties of eggplant are Astrakom, Bambino, Black Beauty, Casper, Dusky, Green Goddess, Ichiban, Long
  • Plant in at least 7-8 hours of sun
  • Drought tolerant but for happier plants water regularly
  • Give each plant at least a foot and a half of space
  • Plant in organic-rich well-drained soil.
  • Fertilize with a nitrogen focused fertilizer until fruit sets, at this point switch to phosphorus focused fertilizer
  • Eggplants are usually ready for harvest 30 days after fruit set.

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Unluckily for plants, I really enjoy growing them. I've grown a few plants over the years and I've killed some too, more than I would like to admit. I just want to share my experience and hope that it helps others.

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