Conventional and Specialty Eggplant Varieties in Florida
Eggplants (Solanum melongena L.) are members of the nightshade family Solanaceae. Cultural practices employed in eggplant production are similar to other agronomic members of the Solanaceae family, such as tomatoes and peppers. Eggplants are warm-season plants that are more vulnerable to cold temperatures than tomatoes. For most of the nation, eggplants are best suited for production during warmer months. However, in south Florida, where winters are mild and freezes are infrequent, eggplants are planted from August to March (Andersen 2013). Eggplants grow best when started from transplants initially grown in protected structures, such as greenhouses, and they prefer well-drained, sandy, and loam soil with temperatures between 70˚F to 85˚F (Doubrava and Miller 2003). Although eggplants are considered vegetables, botanically they are a fruit because they derive from an ovary. Because of their cooking versatility and ability to absorb flavor, eggplants are used in many cultural dishes and cuisines.