By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Eggplant is a commonly grown warm-season vegetable most noted for its great flavor in addition to its dark violet color and egg shape. Several other varieties can be grown in the home garden as well. They consist of various colors and sizes, all of which can add unique flavor to many dishes or as stand-alone side dishes. Eggplant problems and eggplant pests can occur from time to time when growing eggplant; however, with the proper care, these can usually be prevented.
Eggplants are very cold sensitive and should not be placed into the garden too early. Wait until the soil has sufficiently warmed and all threat of frost has ceased. These plants require full sun and well-drained soil amended with organic matter.
When growing eggplants, you’ll want to space them about a foot or two apart, as they can become rather large. Since eggplants are susceptible to many pests and diseases, the use of collars or row covers on young plants may be necessary in reducing these common eggplant problems.
Dealing with Eggplant Pests
The best way to deal with eggplant bugs is by using collars and row covers until the plants are large enough to withstand attacks, at which time insecticidal soaps can be used to alleviate pest problems.
To prevent eggplant bugs, it may also help to keep weeds and other debris to a minimum and rotate crops every other year or so. Introducing natural predators, such as ladybugs, often helps minimize eggplant problems associated with aphids.
Eggplant Diseases in the Garden
There are several eggplant diseases that affect these crops. Some of the most common include blossom end rot, wilt diseases, and various types of blight. Many of these eggplant diseases can be eliminated or prevented by practicing crop rotation, reducing weed growth, and providing adequate spacing and uniform watering.
- Blossom end rot, as found in tomatoes, is caused from fungus due to overwatering and affects ripe fruit. Round, leathery, sunken spots appear on fruit ends with the affected fruit eventually dropping from the plant.
- Bacterial wilt can cause plants to suddenly droop, from the bottom to the top, turning yellow. Affected plants eventually wither up and die.
- Verticillium wilt is similar to bacterial wilt but is caused from soil-borne fungal infections. Plants may become stunted, turn yellow, and wilt.
- Southern blight is also caused by fungus and plants exhibit softening of the crown and root tissues. Mold may also be seen on the stems and surrounding soil.
- Phomopsis blight usually affects fruits of eggplant, which begin as sunken spots that eventually enlarge and become soft and spongy. Leaves and stems, especially seedlings, may develop gray or brown spots first.
- Phytophthora blight, which also affects peppers, can quickly destroy eggplants. Plants will get dark streaks prior to collapsing and dying.