The versatility and nutritional appeal of eggplants make them a perfect food for many recipes. These heat loving veggies need a long growing season and plenty of sunshine. Can you grow eggplants indoors? It will be a bit tricky and requires some extra attention compared to garden grown plants, but it can be done. Keep reading for some tips on indoor eggplants and the secret to getting them to fruit.
Can You Grow Eggplants Indoors?
Some people call them aubergines, but by any name eggplants are a dining treat. Growing eggplants inside is a bit tricky because it is difficult to provide enough heat and candle hours of light. The obvious solution is to build a grow system that not only enhances heat but includes grow lights. It still might not result in fruit, but you will have an elegant eggplant as a houseplant.
Eggplants are in the same family as peppers and tomatoes, the nightshade family. When growing eggplants inside, be cautious that curious animals and small children won’t try to nibble on the foliage, which is toxic. Select one of the smaller eggplant varieties due to space restrictions.
Growing Eggplants Inside
The first condition to tackle is heat. Eggplants germinate at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C.) or higher. You will really have to turn up the heat and probably use a heat mat to get sprouts. During the plant’s development, that high temperature must be maintained. Amping up the heat at least 10 more degrees will help the plant set blooms and fruit.
Even with a southern window, it is going to be hard to provide adequate light. Use grow lights to give the plants at least 8 to 10 hours of full sun. High output T5 lights will provide enough light and produce a bit of heat, too. Overhead lighting is sufficient for initial growth.
For best results, add peripheral lights once the plant starts to flower. This will help drive fruit production by allowing light to reach under the leaves and go directly towards the flowers and fruit. To keep the heat and lights confined, use a grow tent. This will focus the light and keep the temperatures high. Keep plants moist and encourage humidity.
Pollination and Fruit Set for Indoor Eggplants
Eggplants are self-pollinating, but they rely upon the wind and insect activity to move pollen to flowers. Having an eggplant as a houseplant means you have to hand pollinate. Shaking the plant will help stir up pollen but a more direct method will work best. Use a small paint brush or cotton swab and swizzle it around each flower, dispensing pollen as you go.
Fruiting will stop if temperatures get over 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 C.), so you will need to watch the heat.
Eggplants need to be kept evenly moist with humidity around 65-75 percent. Fertilize when plants begin to flower with a good tomato food.
With a bit of extra work, growing eggplants inside is possible, and you can expect some fruit with good care.