Cutting Back Eggplant Stems – Should I Prune My Eggplants

(Image credit: Janna Danilova)

Eggplants are big, very productive plants that can grow for years if they’re protected from the cold. Sometimes, though, they need some help, especially as they get older, to reach their full fruiting potential. Keep reading to learn more about whether eggplant pruning is right for you, and how to prune an eggplant.

Should I Prune My Eggplants?

This is a common question, and it really depends upon your preference and your location. If you live in a cold climate and are growing eggplants as annuals, pruning is less necessary. With adequate protection from frost, however, eggplants will grow for several years. This means they can get very large, and sometimes more than a little leggy or worn out. To ensure a strong plant and maximum fruit production, eggplant pruning is a good idea in the long term.

How to Prune an Eggplant

Pruning eggplant stems is best done when the plant is established and has already borne some fruit. If your plant has already gone through a period of production and seems like it’s starting to peter off, this is a good time to do some trimming. When pruning eggplant, the traditional shape to go for has three stems. You should leave the first main division, where the first two stems diverge from the base, as well as one other strong stem. Remove all others. This can seem a little drastic at first, but the plant should come back from it quickly with a new batch of leafy growth and fruit.

Pruning Eggplant Suckers

Even if you don’t want to cut back your eggplant drastically, it’s a good idea to remove suckers. These are the little stems that sprout from the base of the plant and from the points of branch division, much the same as tomato suckers. Pinching off these suckers when they’re small will allow the plant to focus more of its energy on fruit production, resulting in larger, more impressive eggplants.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.