Aubergine Growing Guide
When to sow Aubergine seeds
Seeds are best sown at the following times:
- In a heated propagator like our Vitopod heated electric propagator or heated greenhouse – sow January to early February.
- In an unheated propagator or unheated greenhouse – sow late February to early March.
- For outdoor cultivation – sow indoors late March to April depending on the overnight temperatures.
How to sow aubergine seeds
- Fill a seed tray with compost and flatten the compost down lightly. Use a Tamper to firm and level the compost, as this removes air pockets that can lead to water logging.
- Place seeds on the surface of the compost, space the seeds evenly and sow a few more than you need. Cover the seeds with approx. 0.5 to 1cm of compost.
- Water the compost so that it is damp but not saturated.
- If you have a propagator put the seed tray in the Propagator and put the lid on.
- Put the propagator/seed tray in a warm place away from direct sunlight, the seeds will need to be kept at a temperature of 18oc.
Caring for aubergine seedlings
After about around 2-3 weeks seedlings should start to appear, some varieties may take longer so check your seed packet first. Once the seedlings have appeared transfer the propagator/seed trays to a bright, warm spot. Keep the compost moist but not wet. If you are using a propagator open the vents when all seedlings have appeared.
Transfer aubergines to pots
Once the seedlings are around 3cm tall they will be large enough to be moved into individual 3 inch pots.
- Fill a 3 inch pot with compost and use a dibber or pencil to make a hole large enough for the seedling.
- Hold the seedling by its seed leaves (not by the stem) and gently lever up and out of the seed tray with a dibber or pencil and lower the seedling into its new pot.
- Gently firm the compost around the plant ensuring the roots are covered and adding compost to fill the pot.
- Water the compost so it is damp but not saturated.
- Place the pots back in your propagator.
Transferring aubergines to their final pot
Once the plants around 20cm tall plant them into your Quadgrow or other chosen pot between 6 and 12 inches in diameter (see seed instructions for ideal pot size). If using a Quadgrow follow the assembly instructions.
- Fill your pots with multi-purpose compost.
- Make a hole in the compost large enough for your plant.
- Remove the plant from its pot and place in the hole. Surround the plant with compost, firming the compost around the plant and adding more if needed.
- Water so that the compost is damp but not saturated.
Caring for your aubergines
- As your aubergine grows, support it with stakes.
- When the plant reaches 30cm pinch out the growing tip to encourage side shooting.
- Aubergines have a lot of foliage and therefore use a lot of water on hot days, ensure your plant does not dry out however do not over-water.
- Once each side shoot begins to develop a fruit remove all other flowers from that shoot to encourage a larger ripe fruit.
Aubergines can be harvested once they are 15cm long, using a sharp knife or secateurs cut the fruit from the plant.
- Aphid – colonies gather around new shoots and suck the sap which leads to distorted leaves. Aphids can be controlled chemically with sprays suitable for edible plants or by introducing biological controls such as parasitic wasps.
- White fly – Suck the sap of your plants and excrete honeydew which can lead to sooty mould. Using sticky traps will trap the adults and prevent the population from breeding.
- Red Spider Mite – Red spider mite will attack your plants in hot dry conditions, therefore keeping them moist and cool will deter the spider mites. All of these pests can be controlled by attracting lacewing which feed on red spider mite, greenfly, whitefly and thrips, or use pesticides suitable for edible plants. See our Lacewing and ladybird habitats
If you have any more questions about growing your own aubergines or a general gardening query, please feel free to get in touch with our Gardening Angels on 0845 602 3774 or drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. We're always happy to help!