Family: Solanaceae

Countries: Afghanistan, Africa, Asia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Comoros Islands, Congo, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Middle East, Mozambique, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Aubergines (also known as Eggplant or by the plant’s botanical name, Solanum melogena) are tender plants that need warmth and bright sunshine if they’re to thrive.  Sow aubergine seeds in pots of peat-free compost, inside a heated propagator or glasshouse, from January to April.  Ensure your seedlings are grown in an area that enjoys bright light.

From the end of May or beginning of June, (when there is no risk of cold temperatures or frost) if you garden in a warm area, aubergine plants can be hardened off (brought out from the glasshouse during the daytime and then taken back inside again at night for a couple of weeks), before being planted outside in a warm, bright and sunny area.  Alternatively, aubergines can be grown very successfully inside a glasshouse or polytunnel. 

Aubergine plants can grow up to 160cm (5ft) tall, depending on the variety and the plant’s growing conditions.  Plants will need staking or support, as well as protection from slugs and snails.  Aubergines can be grown in a heated or cold glasshouse or polytunnel, or outdoors in Southern areas of the UK.  Use a good quality peat free compost and make time to water and fertilise your plants regularly throughout the growing season.

Unless you’re growing a very small fruiting aubergine variety, like ‘Pinstripe’, you’ll need to remove your plants’ flowers when you’ve got six to eight fruits developing on each plant.  Wherever they’re grown, aubergines need lots of sunshine and warmth to flourish.

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