Some of the warmest memories we have from our childhood include a dinner with the whole family where our grandparents made the tastiest eggplant ever.
All of us may have categorized eggplants with bland veggies once in our life. But all our misconceptions go away when we taste the ultimate eggplant curry. Eggplants need just a little bit of marinating and the right mixture of spices to become a heavenly food.
Throw it on a barbeque or slow cook it with potato, this purple fibrous food is sure to tingle your taste buds like fireworks. Can a foodie ever ignore this?
There are endless reasons for choosing eggplants as a primary vegetable to grow in your garden. Many gardeners like to grow eggplants because they are very easy to grow. This write-up will let you know how to pollinate eggplants.
Some like to grow it because of its nutritional values. Although we suggest you try it, at least once, just for the taste. You won’t be disappointed. But if you start to grow eggplants there are certain problems that you need to know about.
Also Read: Why Eggplant Leaves Turning Yellow?
The myths regarding the gender of the fruits and how eggplant flowers are both male and female at the same time, confuse many novice gardeners.
Fret not we are going to talk about this whole scenario in this article. Also, follow the article to know the procedures for eggplant pollination. We assure you there will be no questions left in your mind about these topics after you finish this.
The eggplants are the purple shiny egg-shaped fruits that belong to the nightshade family or Solanaceae just like tomatoes and potatoes. Although they look very different they grow just like tomatoes, hanging from a vine.
Eggplants come in one of kind texture and taste that cannot be found in any other vegetables. Mostly famous for its shiny purple skin eggplants can also come in a variety of colors. Lavender, orange, jade green, and yellow-white are some of the colors you can find in supermarkets.
Apart from colors they can also be found in different sizes. Although color and size may vary, the taste usually remains the same. Eggplants have a spongy soft texture with a juicy bitter-sweet taste to it.
Multiple health benefits are associated with eggplants. On the list of healthiest overall diets in 2020 by the Mediterranean diet, eggplants got mentioned the third time in a row by experts.
Eggplants are very rich in fiber and very low on fat. Eating eggplants can regulate cholesterol levels and lower the risks of a heart attack. A 2014 study discovered that eggplants produce chlorogenic acid, a primary antioxidant.
This acid found in eggplants can lower the levels of bad cholesterols as lipoproteins. It also reduces the risks of getting a non-alcoholic fatty liver. Eggplants are rich in vitamin C, Vitamin B6, potassium, antioxidants, etc.
As eggplants are very high in fiber and polyphenols they can replace potatoes on a diabetic person’s diet. The solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides or SRGs found in eggplants can lower the risk of cancer cell growth by a huge margin.
With so many benefits related to eggplant consumption, any sensible person would like to include eggplant in their diet. But while growing eggplants you can face the problem of flower dropping.
Flower sex determination and pollination is a major problem that makes many gardeners tear their hair off. Don’t worry though. Let’s discuss more about the flowers to bust the myths regarding it.
Also Read: Chilli Flowers Dropping Off
Eggplant Flowers: Male and Female
How do the girl eggplants look different from boy eggplants? What kind of flowers do they bear? There are all kinds of funny myths around these topics. Even expert gardeners have striking misconceptions about the gender of an eggplant tree.
These are some of the myths about the gender of the plants that circulates inside the community:
- There are fewer seeds in male eggplants whereas female eggplants are crowded with thick seeds.
- Female eggplants don’t taste as good as male eggplants.
- Female eggplants have dents like long lines whereas round dents can be found on male eggplants.
- Eggplant trees can either have male flowers or female flowers.
From afar these myths can seem a little bit idiotic but if you are a novice gardener these misconceptions are very common. In very simple terms, don’t believe any article that compares male and female eggplants.
Scientifically all eggplants are nothing but fruits. So the whole debate around what gender of eggplants tastes better is very baseless.
Eggplants form when the ovules or eggs of flowers get in contact with the pollen and get pollinated. The whole process of pollination can happen in various ways.
Inside Structure of a Flower of an Eggplant
Flowers of eggplants can grow in the shape of clusters of two, three, or more. They can also form solitary structures as wide as 2 inches.
The chances of flower drop decrease exponentially when the flowers grow in solitary structures. Flowers that grow in the shape of clusters drop 80% of their blooms that decreases the chance of pollination.
At first, the flowers of eggplants grow and stay open during the day. As the sun sets the flowers start to close and at dawn they re-open. This goes on for the first 3 days then they stay open partially until pollination.
As you learned that eggplant flowers stay open for the first three days, we suggest that you check during this time to see what the inside of an eggplant flower looks like. A Flower of an eggplant consists:
- Petals – An eggplant flower generally has 5 to 10 petals. The color of the petals can be purple, white, or pink. When the petals close during the night they form a tube or a cup shape to protect the inside from dew.
- Stamens – It is the male organ that houses the anthers. Five to Seven stamens can be found inside a flower.
- Anthers – Anthers are found in bunches around the pistils. They are connected to stamens but not fused with the pistils. The number of anthers usually stays between 6 and 20. They are yellow in color.
- Pistils – Female organ of the flowers, pistils house the stigmata.
- Stigmata – Connected to the pistils these nodules are well developed and very important for pollination to take place.
As you can learn, from the anatomy of the flower that eggplant flowers produce only one kind of flower. Both the male and female organs needed for pollination are already inside any eggplant flower. So the concept of Male or Female eggplant is very ignorant.
Check this out: Why Spinach Leaves are Turning Yellow?
What gender are eggplants?
Eggplants do not have gender. They are basically the enlarged ovule of an eggplant flower that got fertilized with pollen. They are the fruits that the eggplant trees bear to produce seeds for the next generation.
They can neither be male nor female. The accusations regarding the number of seeds and taste have nothing to do with gender. Different types of eggplant trees produce different types of fruits.
The variety of the tree, type of irrigation, quality of soil, etc. has a lot more to do with the taste than the gender of the flower and fruit.
Why do Eggplant Flowers Drop?
One of the major problems any eggplant can face is flower dropping. There can be many reasons for the problem of flower dropping. If your plant doesn’t get enough water to survive pollination, and it does not happen, the flowers can drop when the connection to the stem dries up.
The common problem behind flower dropping is poor irrigation. You need to get your eggplant to grow deep roots into the soil. You have to thoroughly water your eggplant to make the soil wet for almost 6 inches deep. You have to water at least once a week.
If you live in dry hot weather the chances are that your eggplant did not go through pollination because the weather dried the pollen up. If the pollen becomes inactive, pollination can stop.
Do eggplants need to be pollinated?
There are two types of plants you can find in nature on the basis of pollination. The first type of plant produces both male and female flowers on them.
Male flowers carry pollen and when the time comes it gets carried by the wind or insects to the female flowers. Female flowers contain Stigmata that carry the pollen to the ovules. Voila, the flower is now pollinated and soon it will bear fruit or seeds.
The second type of plant has all necessary organs for pollination i.e. stigmata and pollens inside all their flowers. They are called self-fertilizing plants.
Usually, these plants need just a little bit of wind to get pollinated. But when the weather becomes very dry and hot the pollen becomes very inactive.
In the case of eggplants, both anthers that carry pollens and Pistils that houses the ovules are already present inside the flowers. One or two gusts of winds are enough to get these flowers pollinated.
This may seem like a perfect system but as mentioned in the previous section flower dropping becomes a major problem in eggplant cultivation. When eggplants fail to get pollinated the flower automatically drops to make room for new flowers.
How to Pollinate Eggplant Flowers?
As mentioned before all that is needed for pollination of eggplant flowers is a little bit of wind or regular pollinators like bees and butterflies.
Eggplants are self-pollinating plants. Flowers of eggplants contain both pollen and ovules. But the problem of decreased pollination plague fields after fields of eggplants. Though you are safe.
As you are a gardener who grows eggplants in their backyard, you can easily help your eggplants get pollinated.
How to Hand Pollinate Eggplant?
- A little bit of push: While you may think that hand-pollinating can be a nuisance, It is actually simpler than you can imagine. You just need to follow your flowering eggplants. When the flowers get big you just need to shake them a little bit or give gentle taps on the stems that hold the flowers. You just have to create enough motion to let the pollen from anthers to move and fly to the stigmata.
- Just take a brush: If the previous step is not working and you want to be more serious about making sure that every flower on your plant gets fertilized, just get a soft brush. Brushes that have soft bristles like paint brushes or makeup brushes are perfect for this job. Use your brush to get the pollen from anthers and spread it inside the flower. This process may seem labor intensive but the success rate is higher.
- When to do so: No matter which process you follow you will only be successful if you do it at the right time. Timing is very crucial. Flowers usually get successfully pollinated during morning and afternoon when the temperature falls down and moisture rises up. Be strict about your timing.
- Other ways of achieving the same goal: Some of the other ways you can stimulate your eggplant’s pollination process are also very simple. Make your garden bed high so that it gets more wind. Choose a windy place in your backyard so the pollination process becomes fluid. Follow strict irrigation routines. Water at least once a week. Between your eggplant trees plant other attractive plants that attract more pollinators than usual.
If you follow these easy steps you are sure to succeed. Pollination is a very important but easy process in gardening.
It is nothing to be afraid of. Most of the time you will not even have to rely on artificial pollinating if you water your plants timely and use organic fertilizers.
Give your plants enough sun to grow with. Also while buying seeds check the quality of the seeds and the variety of the plants you are buying. Happy gardening.