QUESTION: What are the varieties of eggplant? I want to try growing something new in my garden. Which eggplant varieties grow well in a home garden?
ANSWER: There are countless varieties of eggplant available to gardeners, and unfortunately, there are far too many to name and discuss all of them here. Instead, we have decided to highlight and discuss some of our favorite eggplant varieties that are commonly grown in modern vegetable gardens.
Graffiti Eggplant – Also called striped eggplants, graffiti eggplants are oblong, purple and white striped eggplants that taste similar to standard eggplants but also have a delicate sweet flavor.
Japanese Eggplant – Similar to Chinese eggplants, the Japanese variety is not quite as thin and has a slightly darker purple shade with a delicate spongy texture and a creamy, slightly sweet flavor.
Chinese Eggplant – These slender bright-colored eggplants are almost magenta on the outside with a white interior. They have less seeds than many eggplant varieties and are therefore less bitter.
Fairy Tale Eggplant – The exterior of these small eggplants are violet with mottled white stripes. The insides are light, creamy, and delicately sweet.
Italian Eggplant – Think of Italian eggplants as the smaller, rounder, slightly sweeter version of the traditional globe eggplant, but with a thick, spongy interior texture.
White Eggplant – White eggplants are practically identical to the standard globe eggplant aside from its white hue, with the same texture, flavor, and capabilities.
Thai Eggplant – The Thia eggplant is small, round, green and white on the exterior with pink flesh inside. They have a more pronounced bitter flavor than most varieties. If you want to make them less bitter, remove their seeds.
Indian Eggplant – Light purple, round and tender, Indian eggplants, also known as baby eggplants, have a velvety interior and are perfect for soups, stews, and dips.
Rosa Bianca Eggplant – Heirloom variety Rosa Bianca eggplants are quick to catch the eye, Their bright purple to pink and white exteriors are plump and round. The flavor of the Rosa Bianca is light, mild, and completely void of any bitterness.
Globe Eggplant – Also known as American eggplants, these are the traditional big purple eggplants that you find in the grocery store. They have a tougher, meatier texture than smaller varieties, and are well suited to dishes like eggplant parmesan.
Eggplant Growing Reference Chart
|Plant Family||Solanaceae (Nightshade family)|
|Native To||India and Southeast Asia|
|Scientific Name||Solanum melongena|
|Common Name||Eggplant, Aubergine, Brinjal, Guinea Squash|
|USDA Hardiness Zone||Grown as an annual in most climates; best in USDA zones 4-11|
|Germination Time||7-14 days|
|Days to Maturity||65-90 days, depending on the variety|
|Sun Requirements||Full sun (6-8 hours per day)|
|Planting Requirements||Transplant seedlings outdoors after last frost. Use black plastic mulch to warm soil.|
|Planting Spacing||24-36 inches (60-90 cm) apart|
|Plant Height and Width||24-48 inches (60-120 cm) tall, 24-36 inches (60-90 cm) wide|
|Growth Habit||Bushy, spreading|
|Water Requirements||Moderate; keep soil consistently moist|
|Common Pests||Leafminers, flea beetles, aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, tomato pinworm, stinkbugs|
|Common Diseases||Verticillium wilt, Fusarium wilt, early blight, powdery mildew, blossom end rot, ercospora leaf spot|
|Soil Requirements||Well-drained, loamy soil|
|Fertilizer Requirements||Balanced, slow-release fertilizer at planting; side-dress with nitrogen after fruiting begins|
|Pruning and Training||Stake or cage plants; prune lower leaves and any non-fruiting branches|
|Companion Plants||Beans, peas, lettuce, radishes, marigolds, nasturtiums, tarragon, peppers, thyme, lavender, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, sage, catnip, sunflowers, borage, potatoes, mint, Swiss chard, tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, snapdragons, kohlrabi,|
|Popular Cultivar Varieties||‘Black Beauty’, ‘Ichiban’, ‘Rosa Bianca’, ‘Hansel’, ‘Gretel’|
|Planting Calendar||Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost; transplant outdoors after last frost|
|Cool Season or Warm Season Crop||Warm season crop|
|Harvesting and Storage||Harvest when skin is glossy and firm; store at 50°F (10°C), avoid refrigeration|