Is your eggplant flowering but not developing fruit? You’ve come to the right place! Here we are exploring the causes and solutions for why your eggplant flowers but does not produce fruit.
Eggplants flower but don’t fruit when the plant is under stress. A stressed plant will drop its flowers in order to survive. Without the flower, the eggplant fruit cannot form. There are a number of things that can stress an eggplant plant. The two most common of these are a lack of water and a lack of pollination. Other factors include extremes in weather, pest attack, lack of nutrients, and planting the wrong variety for your area.
Let’s find out more details about each cause along with solutions you can try in order to grow a thriving crop of eggplants.
Lack of Water Causes Eggplant Flowers to Drop
Lack of water is the most common cause of stress in eggplants. When an eggplant gets too little water, its flowers will dry out and fall off.
Eggplant fruit cannot form without the flower and therefore no fruit will develop.
Solution for Eggplant Lack for Water
An eggplant needs at least two inches of water per week, and more in very hot conditions, to thrive.
Eggplants like one deep watering rather than a little each day. Long waterings encourage the roots to grow deep into the soil.
A plant with deep roots will be happier than a plant with shallow roots as the deep roots can locate water that is deeper underground.
Shallow water tends to dry out quickly and therefore shallow-rooted eggplants run the risk of drying out more quickly than deep-rooted plants.
Lack of Pollination Causes Eggplant Flowers to Drop
Another reason eggplant flowers may drop off the plant is due to a lack of pollination. Again, fruit cannot form without a flower, so there will be no eggplant fruit development if the flowers drop off.
Eggplants can use wind pollination which means they do not rely entirely on bees or other insects to pollinate them. For pollination to occur the pollen must be released by the anther (male part) and get onto the stigma (female part).
Eggplants are self-pollinating which means they do not need pollen from another plant to pollinate them but can use their own pollen from the same flower or plant as each flower contains both male and female parts.
How Humidity Affects Eggplant Pollination
The eggplant anther (male part) is notorious for not dropping its pollen. If the weather is too humid the pollen becomes sticky and will not fall easily onto the stigma. You can encourage the pollen to fall by hand pollinating the flowers. Use a small paintbrush and gently brush inside each flower in a circular motion.
Lack of Wind Movement Affects Eggplant Pollination
Self-pollinating plants like eggplants, need movement to encourage the pollen to fall from the anther onto the stigma. This movement usually comes from the wind. Eggplants self-pollinate best on warm days with a light breeze. As the flowers get shaken gently by the wind, the pollen will fall onto the stigma.
If you suspect the time is right for pollination but your days are calm and the air is still, you can gently shake the eggplant bush to encourage the pollen to fall.
Even self-pollinating wind-pollinated plants benefit from insect activity. The movement of bumblebees and other insects is enough to encourage the pollen to fall. Try planting flowering plants such as lavender, borage, daisies and marigolds in amongst your eggplants and other vegetables to encourage insects to visit.
How Hot Weather Affects Eggplant Pollination
When the weather becomes very hot, above 90°F (32°C), pollen becomes inactive as the eggplant does not want to expend energy on another fruit when it is struggling to survive.
To prevent inactive pollen, you need to keep your plants cool. You can do this by shading the plants but keep in mind that eggplants love direct sun as long as it is not too hot.
Shade cloth structures can be erected over the plants as a permanent solution or as a cheaper, temporary solution you can erect a sun umbrella over your plants during very hot weather to help to keep them cool.
Watering in the morning can help to keep the soil cool and thus cool the plant as well.
Hand Pollinating Eggplants
If you suspect lack of pollination is the cause of the flowers falling off, you can hand pollinate your eggplant flowers.
This is a simple process. Take a small paintbrush and brush it gently in each flower in a circular motion. Make sure you have brushed each flower and return to the first flower at the end. This will ensure that every stigma is covered in pollen.
Cold Weather Causes Eggplant Flowers to Drop
An eggplant will drop its flowers under stress of cold weather. If temperatures drop below 60°F (15.5°C) an eggplant will go into survival mode and drop its flowers.
Solution for Cold Weather
To prevent this from happening you could plant your eggplants a little later in the season if you know you are in a cold area or you could cover them with a shade cloth structure to keep some of the cold out.
Eggplant Flea Beetle Attack Causes Flowers to Drop
Although eggplant flea beetles do not attack the flower directly they can put the plant under strain which can cause it to drop its flowers. Flea beetles are more of a threat to young seedlings than fully grown plants.
Flea beetles are a group of shiny beetles with strong back legs. Like a flea, they use these strong back legs to jump away from danger.
The nightshade vegetables; tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants; are susceptible to flea beetles. Adult beetles feed on the leaves of the plant, creating many small holes. Later in the summer, the females will lay eggs at the base of the plant, and the larvae that hatch will feed on the roots.
Solutions: How to Get Rid of Flea Beetles on Eggplants
This homemade spray works well to get rid of flea beetles. 2 cups rubbing alcohol, 5 cups water, 1 table spoon liquid soap. Spray the mixture onto the foliage.
Dusting the leaves with talcum powder will deter the flea beetles.
Hose Them Off
Blasting your eggplants with a strong blast of water from your hose will dislodge the beetles for a short time. This works well for a mild infestation of beetles.
Flea beetles are repelled by catnip, mint and basil. Plant these plants near your eggplants to deter the flea beetles. Flea beetles love radishes and nasturtiums. You could plant these a little distance away to draw the beetles away from your eggplants.
Sprinkling coffee grounds around your eggplants will deter flea beetles as they do not like the smell.
Covers are probably the most effective way of keeping flea beetles off your eggplants. Placing covers over your plants will keep the flea beetles out.
The covers must be sealed and should be put over the plants as soon as the seedlings are planted out or shoots can be seen. Remove covers when flowers start so the flowers can be pollinated.
Lack of Nutrients Causes Lack of Eggplant Fruit
Like most plants, eggplants need food to thrive. Eggplants need plenty of nitrogen and phosphorous, especially during the fruit-bearing stage. Potassium and magnesium are also important nutrients for an eggplant plant.
Solution for Lack of Nutrients: Fertilize Eggplant
Feed your eggplant every 4 weeks. You can use a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or an organic fertilizer like compost, seaweed or chicken manure pellets. Eggplants like well-drained soil and compost along with aged manure will help to create this.
This organic fertilizer is a great option for eggplants.
Lack of Eggplants Caused by Planting the Wrong Variety
There are many varieties of eggplants and some are more suited to certain areas than others. Eggplants that originated in Southeast Asia like tropical conditions: warm and rainy.
Different varieties can take between 50 and 90 days to mature. Check the maturation time on the packet before buying.
If you live in an area with a short growing period you should look for a variety that has a short maturation period or early maturing variety such as Applegreen, Diamond or Orient Express.
In an area with a longer growing season, you can try varieties like Black Beauty and Violetta Lunga.
If you have a short growing period you can start your own seedlings indoors before the weather is warm enough to plant outdoors or you can buy seedlings to plant out later to give you a head start.
Varieties with smaller fruit are usually easier to grow. Try a small bush variety like Millionaire or Bonica. They are hardy and fun to grow. For something different try Ping Tung Long which is a long slender Asian variety.
As we have seen, eggplants under stress will drop their flowers in an effort to survive. As flowers are essential for fruit formation, no fruit will be produced. By identifying the possible causes as listed above, you can remedy the problem for a thriving harvest of delicious eggplants!