This week when I was stumbling around online I came across the coolest thing ever. Have you ever heard of the Easter Egg Plant? Me neither. To say I want one is an understatement. It would be so striking in my front yard! I did some looking around, and these are the basics on Easter Egg Plant care.
What is an Easter Egg Plant?
The Easter Egg Plant is actually a small type of eggplant. It is part of the “nightshade” vegetable family, which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, other eggplants, and peppers. Two of its more common botanical names are Solanum Melongena and Solanum Ovigerum.
What Do Easter Egg Plants Look Like?
Easter Egg Plants are just little guys. They generally only get to be 12″ – 18″ tall, making them perfect for container gardening. They have sturdy stems, and fairly wide, large leaves for their size. They have pretty lavender flowers, and then little white eggplant fruits that look like chicken’s eggs. A healthy plant will have 20-30 3″-5″ fruits in a season.
Easter Egg Plant Growing Tips?
These plants are annuals, and thrive in plant hardiness zones 4-11.
Seeds need to be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Push seeds into soil, but don’t cover them up as they need light to germinate. You can expect germination to take 10-14 days.
Seedlings are ready to harden off and move outdoors when all risk of frost has passed (the average daily temperature should be at least 70°F). Plants should be spaced 2′-3′ apart, with 30″-36″ of room between rows. Choose an area that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Soil should be rich, deep and well-drained, with compost mixed in.
It’s important to know how to plant Easter Egg Plants, as they are picky on soil temperature. If you live in a cooler climate:
- Cover the soil with black plastic 2 weeks before transplanting, as these plants like their soil warm.
- Cut a little hole to stick the transplant through (the plastic will also help to keep weeds away).
- Put 2″ of straw mulch on top of the black plastic to help the soil retain moisture and warmth (don’t let the straw touch the plant stems as this can make them rot).
Fruit will mature 58-72 days after transplanting outdoors.
Easter Egg Plant Care?
The main issue with Easter Egg Plant care is to make sure the plants are not transplanted outside too soon. These plants are incredibly frost sensitive, and will not survive even a hint of frost.
a. Easter Egg Plant Soil
Soil needs are pretty basic. You should:
- Mix compost into the soil.
- Once a month give the plants a little boost with a nitrogen fertilizer.
- If you are looking to give them ideal growing conditions, they prefer soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5.
b. Easter Egg Plant Watering
Luckily, this plant doesn’t have any crazy watering needs. It’s pretty basic:
- Water Easter Egg Plants once a week, or when the soil is dry to 1″ below the soil’s surface.
- The soil should never get too dry, but also be careful not to over water.
c. Easter Egg Plant Staking and Caging?
You can stake or cage the plants if you want, but it’s generally only needed if the fruit gets too heavy for the plant to hold itself up.
When to Harvest Easter Egg Eggplant Fruit?
Easter Egg Plant fruit takes about 58-72 days to mature (after being transplanted outdoors). The “eggs” will be ripe when they turn a creamy, yellow or orangey pastel colour. Quality fruit will have glossy skin.
To check for ripeness, try to dent the fruit with your thumb.
- If the fruit is hard, it’s not ripe.
- If the dent bounces back, it’s ripe.
- If the dent does not spring back, it’s overripe.
An overripe fruit will also be dull, spongy, and have seeds that are brown or hard. Remove these fruits as soon as possible to encourage new fruit growth.
When harvesting, don’t pull the “eggs” from the plant, as this can cause damage. Use sharp shears to cut the fruit free.
Harvesting Easter Egg Plant Seeds?
To harvest Easter Egg Plant seeds:
- Wait until the fruit is overripe (see above).
- Open the fruit and remove the seeds.
- Thoroughly clean and dry the seeds before storing them.
If you are growing for the first time, or don’t want to bother with storing seeds, you can always buy Easter Egg Plant seeds online.
Can You Eat Easter Egg Plant?
Ok, there seems to be some discrepancy over whether the fruits are edible or not. Some sources say they are inedible because of the bitter taste. Some say they’re edible with a bland taste. Some say ornament only, not edible.
So is the Easter Egg Eggplant edible? I couldn’t find a definite answer, although more sites seem to lean towards yes. But I’ll leave it up to you…if you’re thinking about eating the fruit, do your own research first to make sure it’s safe!
If you do decide to eat the “eggs”, look for ones with glossy skin, that have just matured to a pale cream, yellow or orange colour. The fruit needs to be consumed or used shortly after harvesting, as they are highly perishable and do not last long off the stem.
Easter Egg Plant fruits are said to have a bland flavour. Apparently the fruits can develop a bitter taste if:
- the soil is allowed to get too dry, or
- if the fruit is overripe.
If you plan on eating the Easter Egg Plant fruit make sure you water adequately during the growing season, and harvest earlier rather than later.
Easter Egg Plant Pests
For some reason, pests love these plants. The good news is, there are many ways to send unwelcome critters packing.
If you see signs of slugs (slimy trails, holes in leaves, or slugs chilling out near your plant), set slug traps. Slug traps range from basic models…
…to cute little traps that actually add to your garden decor:
No matter which type of trap you choose, simply fill the trap with beer and the slugs will drown themselves in it.
b. Spider Mites and Aphids
Spider Mites and Aphids are also attracted to Easter Egg Plants. There are highly effective natural ways to get rid of them:
- Remove super infested parts of the plant. I personally would do this as a last resort, after trying other solutions first.
- Spray the plant with a hose, making sure you get the leaf undersides really well (this is where Spider Mites and Aphids like to live).
- Make a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap. Spray the plant down, making sure you get the undersides of the leaves. If the bugs are still there 6 days later, spray it down again. Note: test the mixture out on a small part of the plant before spraying the whole thing down, in case the plant is sensitive to dish detergent.
- Encourage Ladybugs as they eat Spider Mites and Aphids. You can actually buy live Ladybugs online (who knew?). When ordering from Amazon, the company should only agree to sell/ship species that are native to your area. Always research species on your own first though, to prevent the wrong ones from making their way to you.
If natural options don’t work, there are chemical options. Keep in mind that some products will kill all insects, while others only target the insects you’re having trouble with.
- Spray the plant with a miticide. A few natural options are: Pyrethrum (from a Chrysanthemum like plant), Neem Oil (from Neem tree nuts) and Rosemary Oil.
- If these didn’t work, there are chemical options. Wipe the plant down with rubbing alcohol, spray with liquid sulfur (NOT powder sulfur, that can accidentally be inhaled) or use a chemical product designed to kill spider mites. Always read and follow all product labels/instructions.
- There are different types of commercially prepared chemical sprays for Aphids. Always read and follow all product labels/instructions.
Easter Egg Plants are an adorable member of the Eggplant and Nightshade families. Easter Egg Plant care is pretty basic. They do like their soil warmer than many other plants, and are very sensitive to frost. The fruits actually look like chicken eggs, but turn a pastel colour when ripe. I can’t wait to try one of these little guys out in my own garden this summer!
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