Eggplants do not need support or cages as much as tomatoes do, but they have been known to topple over from their own weight.
Some varieties are more prone to this than others. Even small varieties such as the egg shaped or Asian miniatures which produce prolifically, will be stretched to the limit after a good season of growing. Supporting eggplants is a good idea that doesn’t require a whole hell of a lot of labor.
In addition to supplying physical support for the plant itself stakes for eggplants will also help keep the fruits from touching the ground as they grow. This alone will reduce the possibility of disease issues.
Eggplants grown on well maintained and supported plants are also easier to harvest when the time comes.
The best time to stake an eggplant is when its young, the stake in this case not only serves as a support but as a guide that will help train the plant to the desired growth pattern.
A stake should be sturdy enough to support the full mature weight and height of the fruit laden plant. The taller the anticipated height of the plant, naturally the taller the stake you’ll need.
It should also be of sufficient girth and composition to support the load. You don’t wanna use balsa wood, which is almost like Styrofoam, it’s gonna break.
The stakes sold for tomatoes at the garden center will suffice, use your judgement so far as height and tensile strength goes for your particular cultivar.
Your not trying to kill Dracula so do not drive in your stake near to the plants heart, keep it at least an inch away from the plant stem, preferably a tad more.
Secure the plant and stake together with twine or a suitable media for this chore. I like to use old nylon stockings, they are soft and pliable and will not cut into the plant.
Nylon will also stretch as the plant grows. If you use twine be sure not to fasten it too tightly as it will strangle the plant over time.
If you are staking an already large or near to being mature plant it is advisable to be careful when driving in your stakes. Maintain a respectable distance from the stem and if you meet with any subatantial resistance try moving the stake to a different spot. The resistance is either a rock, root or quite possibly the roots of the plant you are trying to save.
Pruning and Pinching back Eggplant
Pruning and Pinching back eggplants is helpful in maintaining a suitable growth pattern. Modest pruning is highly recommended to produce high quality eggplants.
Remove older leaves from the lower portions of plants to allow for more air circulation and lighting . Pinch suckers (the new growth that begins between the leaf and the stem) weekly.
Maintain three branches per plant: two branches from the primary division of the main stalk and one branch below this division. All the other lateral branches are removed periodically.