By now, I’m sure most of us have seen the last decade’s craze of growing tomato plants by hanging them rather than plunking them in the garden proper. This growing method has a number of benefits and you might be wondering if other plants can be grown upside down. For example, can you grow an eggplant upside down?
Can You Grow an Eggplant Upside Down?
Yes, vertical gardening with eggplants is indeed a possibility. The benefit to eggplant, or any veggie, is that it keeps the plant and resulting fruit off the ground and away from any pests that might want a snack, and lowers the chances of soil-borne diseases.
Hanging eggplants may result in a more robust plant, hence more plentiful fruit. Upside down eggplant growing is also a boon to the gardener lacking in space.
How to Create an Upside Down Eggplant Garden
The materials needed for hanging eggplant containers are simple. You’ll need a container, potting soil, eggplants, and wire with which to hang the container. Use a 5-gallon (19 L.) bucket, preferably with a handle that can be used for hanging.
Turn the bucket over with the bottom facing upwards and drill a hole with a 3-inch (7.5 cm.) circular bit into the center of the bottom. This hole is where the eggplant transplant will be placed.
The next step in vertical gardening with eggplants is to gently insert the transplant through the drilled hole. Since the top of the seedling is smaller than the rootball, feed the top of the plant through the hole, not the rootball.
You’ll need to place a temporary barrier in the bottom of the container — newspaper, landscape fabric, or a coffee filter will all work. The purpose of the barrier is to prevent the soil from coming out of the hole.
Hold the plant in place and fill the bucket with potting soil. You may want to do this with the container suspended on saw horses or the like. Add the soil, compost, and soil again in layers to provide adequate drainage and food. Tamp the soil down lightly. If you’re using a cover (you don’t have to), use a 1-inch (2.5 cm.) drill bit to drill five or six holes in the cover to allow for ease of watering and ventilation.
Voila! Growing eggplants upside down is ready to commence. Water the eggplant seedling and hang it in a sunny location receiving at least six hours, preferably eight, of full sun. Make sure to hang the eggplant somewhere very sturdy since the wet container will be very heavy.
A water-soluble fertilizer should be applied throughout the growing season and maybe some lime to maintain the soil pH. Any type of container planting will tend to dry out more quickly than those planted in the garden, so be sure to monitor and water every other day, to every day if temps soar.
Lastly, an added bonus of an upside-down eggplant container is that the top of the container, provided you are not using a cover, can be used to grow low growing plants, such as leaf lettuce.
What Happens If You Grow A Plant Upside Down?
Growing a plant upside down does not mean that the plants’ roots will hang in the air. You must have it in mind that gravity affects everything, and as such, the roots will still twist until they find soil.
Ideally, plants are designed to grow with their roots in the ground and their stems pointing to the sun. Growing plants upside-down may require the plant to put in extra energy in righting itself and determining the sun’s direction.
The position of a vegetable garden should first and foremost be chosen for convenience. After all, a vegetable garden is for your enjoyment. If you have to walk 10 minutes to the location of a vegetable garden, chances are greatly reduced that your spot for a vegetable garden will be weeded and watered as much as it should and you might miss out on harvesting regularly.
Another thing to consider when choosing a garden location is how much sun that spot gets. Be sure to hang your upside-down garden somewhere sunny. Typically, vegetables need at least six hours of sun, though eight hours is better. Don’t fuss so much about if the spot for a vegetable garden gets morning or afternoon sun, just check to make sure it gets six hours total of sun.
jackmac34 / Pixabay
You can start growing eggplant in containers either from seeds or plant starts. In general, they do best in zones 5-12, and will grow as a perennial in zones 10-12. It’s absolutely possible to grow eggplant in colder climates, however, and you’ll find several tips throughout this article for how to do so.
First, be sure to use a good quality potting mix. It’s also a good idea to add some compost or aged manure to the pots, since eggplants are heavy feeders.
Plant your eggplants with tomato cages: they’ll need the extra support as they grow. If you don’t want to use a cage, insert a heavy-duty stick or stake that you can then tie the plant to in order to support the growing fruits. Otherwise, top-heavy fruits can break the stems and destroy your plant.
If you’ve never grown eggplant before, it’s a good idea to begin with plants rather than seeds. Your local garden center should have good ideas of which varieties are all purpose, and which grow best in your climate.
Diseases and Pests You Have to Watch out for When Growing Eggplants in Containers
Prevent aphids by placing pots of garlic and chives near the eggplant.
Inspect the leaves daily and pick out caterpillars that will eat the leaves. Squash bugs can also be a major pest if you have an infestation of them you may want to check out our article on neem oil for squash bugs. You can also prevent this by doing crop rotation.
Spider mites can be prevented by spraying the underside of leaves with water daily or compost tea. Be careful not to over-do it for dry leaves are essential for preventing powdery mildew.
Now that you are growing eggplant in containers you should plant a friend for it! Have a look at our guide on growing chives in pots!
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