Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why do the flowers fall off my Eggplants?

Eggplant Bonica Solanum melongea
I had a call from Alister because the flowers on his Eggplants kept dropping off without developing fruit. Does he need another plant nearby to ensure pollination? I have to be honest although I thought I knew the answer, I had to re-check.  The answer is definitely no, Eggplant like their relatives Tomato, Capsicum and Potato (the Solanaceae family) are self pollinating.  The flowers have both male and female sexual parts so pollen doesn't even have to travel from one flower to another (not to say that it can't, that's just provides an opportunity for plant variation and development).  It is the self pollinating nature of these flowers that ensures plants grown from your own seed collection will grow true to form season after season.

So what is happening to Adrian's Eggplants?  Blossom Drop.  Blossom Drop is usually associated with stress.  Too Hot, Too Cold, Too dry, Too wet, Too humid, Too hungry, any of the above alone or in combination. The response of some plants like Coriander and Bok Choi is to bolt to seed when stressed and flounce off to produce the next generation. The Solanaceous plants appear to be made of sterner stuff, when the going gets tough they knuckle down and concentrate on surviving, there'll be time enough for reproduction when conditions improve.

The solutions?  The usual response... do whatever is necessary to remove the stress, it's fair to assume at this time of year that water, or lack of is the most likely issue.  If the plant is growing in a pot is the big enough to hold enough water for the plant to grow, even on hot days? Could pots be moved to a position to avoid the most intense heat of the day? Would mulching help retain water for plants in garden beds? Is the plant hungry? Now that the frame of the plant has developed does it need some extra tucker for flower & fruit development? One point to note here, too much Nitrogen in the plants diet can encourage lots of foliage and plant growth at the expense of setting flowers and fruit. Organic fertilizers (manure) generally give a better balanced diet. Fertilizers using terms like Super Green, Turf and Citrus are generally plant junk food.

The mechanical solution is to tap the flowers.  Tapping the flowers releases any pollen available. Because the flowers are self pollinating there is no need to spread the pollen from one flower to another, the pollen just has to let go and reach the Stigma in the flower.  A brush to transfer pollen from one flower to another is not essential but will certainly help physically move pollen from one place to where it is needed.

13 comments:

  1. Flowers can achieve so many things for us in our day to day life that we might otherwise take for granted. When we don't have the time to be present at some social event, sending a beautiful bouquet will make up for our absence.

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  2. I am extremely new to planting and eggplants are my first choice. Now they are flowering but they kept on falling off. The weather here is rainy then would become sunny then a moment later rainy again. Ehat could be wrong? Im getting frustrated with this

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ishmael, If you are growing Eggplant in Melbourne, It's just too early for them to be setting flowers yet. Give them a feed with some manure and allow the plants to do a bit more growing so they can support the fruit as the weather warms up.

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  3. I am calling from Cape Town.
    Some of my egplants are producing flowers wihot dtigma (the female part)
    Do you have any knowledge of this or the reason.

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  4. Hi guys, I really enjoyed your blog it was quite inspirational, keep posting! The Tree Center

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  5. All true but I like ta add,,, All you angiospores are alike I know what you want, You want your anthers brushed and your stamen touched, That would feel real good

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  6. I am in UAE all my flowers from eggplant falling down. Really don't know why so. There is any solution for this.

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  8. Commenting for the first time. And of course it has to do with my eggplant. I bay sat it and is load with flowers but they just keep dropping off. I have in a 15 in pot. I water it every morning. I did cut the bottom leaves and I got just the way I wanted so far it has dropped 5 flowers and time is running out. Can I save it for next year?

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  9. Commenting for the first time. And of course it has to do with my eggplant. I bay sat it and is load with flowers but they just keep dropping off. I have in a 15 in pot. I water it every morning. I did cut the bottom leaves and I got just the way I wanted so far it has dropped 5 flowers and time is running out. Can I save it for next year?

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    Replies
    1. A 15" pot should be big enough for an Eggplant. I wonder if you have bees to pollinate the flowers? Just tapping Tomato flowers is enough to release pollen so I assume Eggplant will be the same. Just give the open flowers a firm but gentle tap and see if that helps.
      Eggplant is perennial and should last 3-4 years in ideal conditions. You will have to re-fertilise in Spring and you might choose to prune to shape when you see the first signs of Spring growth.

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  10. I have an eggplant in a 20 inch pot. The plant is now abt a foot and a half tall. It produces an abundance of flowers that continues to bloom but fall off. I live in Pahrump, NV. We've been experiencing 110°F days, in which I water early morning and late afternoon. If I don't water twice a day the plant will wilt. Will I get anything to eat off this plant or is it like my children who are healthy but no grand kids? Lmao seriously no fried eggplant this year?

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  11. I have an eggplant in a 20 inch pot. The plant is now abt a foot and a half tall. It produces an abundance of flowers that continues to bloom but fall off. I live in Pahrump, NV. We've been experiencing 110°F days, in which I water early morning and late afternoon. If I don't water twice a day the plant will wilt. Will I get anything to eat off this plant or is it like my children who are healthy but no grand kids? Lmao seriously no fried eggplant this year?

    ReplyDelete

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