With its big green leaves and purple flowers, eggplant is one of the most attractive vegetable plants for the garden. Each eggplant plant will produce several fruits during the growing season. As a relative to tomatoes, eggplants need to be started early and kept in a warm, sunny place to grow from seed to fruiting plant.
Seed to Sprout
Eggplant seeds need to be started indoors about two months before your region's last frost date. Kept moist and warm, the seed absorbs water and germination occurs. The seed uses its stored energy to produce a small root and two seed leaves. These seed leaves, or cotyledons, provide enough energy until the seedling can grow a set of true leaves.
Seedling to Plant
The seedling continues to grow indoors until the weather warms outside. The seedling needs to be kept in a sunny window so it doesn't get lanky. During this time, the seedling adds height and leaves, and the roots will typically fill the pot. When daytime temperatures average 21.1 degrees Celsius, the eggplant can be planted outside in a garden area that receives full sun.
Over the next couple months, the eggplant adds more height, fuller leaves and deeper roots. Eventually, small green buds form at the ends of several stems. Within a couple of days, these buds open to reveal the eggplant's showy purple flower.
Flower to Fruit
As bees and other pollinators visit the eggplant flowers, pollen is transferred from one flower to another. When pollination occurs, seeds develop within in the eggplant's ovary. The ovary itself becomes fleshy and grows into the eggplant that are harvested and eaten.
Fruit to Death
Eggplants are annual plants, which means they complete their entire life cycle in one year. Once the eggplant has finished producing fruit, or if no flowers are pollinated, the plant starts to shut down. The leaves stop producing energy for the plant. Within a few weeks, the plant withers and dies.