Eggplant, Solanum melongena, is suited to cultivation in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 10.
It prefers full sun and organically-rich, well-draining soil. Depending upon the variety, plants grow 24 to 48 inches tall and 16 to 36 inches wide.
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A summer garden classic, eggplant is a fruit we eat as a vegetable in recipes ranging from breaded and fried to roasted or pickled.
And while they are native to India, varieties that have become widely cultivated in the Mediterranean region are called Italian eggplants.
In our guide to growing eggplant, we discuss all you need to know for cultivation.
This guide introduces 15 distinctive Italian eggplants and some highlights of each. Get ready to choose your favorites!
Here’s the lineup:
Let’s get started, or in Italian, Iniziamo!
Unlike the large American or globe eggplants typically found in the produce aisle, Italian varieties typically have fewer seeds and are smaller, sweeter, and thinner-skinned, with more tender flesh.
Eggplant takes 100 to 150 days to mature when started from seed or 55 to 85 days from the transplant stage.
Italian varieties are generally quite small and mature early. The days to maturity noted in each of the entries below are from the transplant stage.
And now, here they are, 15 Italian eggplant varieties to whet your appetite:
‘Aretussa’ is a hybrid cultivar that produces cylindrical white fruits that measure six to eight inches long, with tender skin and mild flesh.
White eggplants offer a striking presentation, especially when served whole and stuffed.
Take care not to bruise the fruit when you harvest them – after approximately 65 days.
‘Aretussa’ seeds are available on Amazon in packages of 300.
The fruits of hybrid ‘Barbarella’ are rounded with deep pleats like an heirloom tomato. The glossy skin has a magenta blush under the calyx that shades to deep purple.
Four- to five-inch-long, rounded fruits are ready to harvest after 65 days. Enjoy them whole and stuffed, or sliced and grilled.
‘Barbarella’ seeds are available in packages of 50 at Walmart.
Seeds are also available from Isla’s Garden Seeds via Amazon, in packages of approximately 20.
Early-maturing hybrid ‘Beatrice’ is ready to pick in about 62 days. Appreciated for its high yields, this egg-shaped variety produces four- to six-inch violet fruits.
Tender skin you don’t have to peel, and a mild, creamy flavor characterize this variety.
The cylindrical to teardrop-shaped fruits of ‘Dancer’ are magenta and measure seven to eight inches long. Expect maturity in 65 days from this high-yielding variety.
Firm enough to grill, ‘Dancer’ has creamy white flesh that cooks up tender and mild.
5. Long Purple
With violet cylindrical or teardrop-shaped fruits measuring eight to 10 inches long, the name ‘Long Purple’ suits this tender and tasty choice.
Also known as ‘Early Long’ or ‘Italian Heirloom,’ this heirloom variety has a mild flavor and thin skin.
Fruits mature in 70 to 80 days.
‘Long Purple’ seeds are available from Botanical Interests.
Choose from packets of 100 conventional seeds or packets of 60 organic seeds.
High-yielding ‘Nadia’ is a hybrid variety that produces deep purple-skinned, oblong fruits that measure seven to eight inches long.
‘Nadia’ is more cold-tolerant than other varieties and will continue to set fruit as the weather cools at season’s end.
Firm skins and flesh are especially suited to grilling, frying, and baking.
Fruits are ready for harvest in about 70 days.
‘Nadia’ seeds are available on Amazon in packages of 25.
The egg-shaped fruits of ‘Paloma’ are white and lightly ribbed, with a length of up to four and a half inches. They have tender skin and flesh, a sweet taste, and a creamy mouthfeel.
This robust hybrid variety produces an abundant harvest in 65 days. Take care not to bruise the skin when picking.
8. Pianta Delle Uova
The quintessential “eggplant,” ‘Pianta Delle Uova’ produces two- to four-inch egg-shaped fruits with tender white to tan skin and sweet, creamy flesh.
Also known as the “tree of eggs,” this heirloom variety is appreciated for its prolific fruit production and ornamental appeal. Expect maturity in 70 to 80 days.
‘Pianta Delle Uova’ seeds are available on Amazon in packages of 25.
Hybrid ‘Prosperosa’ yields round fruits, four- to five-inches in diameter. They are violet with deep ribbing and white accents.
This petite variety is particularly well-suited to stuffing for individual portions.
Creamy white flesh and sweet goodness are yours in 75 to 80 days.
‘Prosperosa’ seeds are available from True Leaf Market in packages containing two grams, one ounce, four ounces, one pound, five pounds, and 25 pounds.
10. Rosa Bianca
The small globes of open-pollinated ‘Rosa Bianca’ are lavender-rose with white highlights and measure five to six inches in diameter.
Sweet and mild, these versatile fruits slice well and are an excellent choice for baking and roasting.
One of the later-maturing varieties, you’ll have to enjoy delicious anticipation for 80 to 85 days until maturity.
‘Rosa Bianca’ seeds are available from Burpee in packages of 50. Individual starter plants are also available singly or in packages of three.
You can also find seeds available in a variety of packet sizes and in bulk from High Mowing Seeds.
11. Rotunda Romanesca
Heirloom ‘Rotunda Romanesca’ offers round, deeply ridged lavender-blue and white fruits that measure three to five inches in diameter.
Ready to harvest in 75 days, fruits have a mild flavor with a meaty texture.
‘Rotunda Romanesca’ seeds are available on Amazon in packages of 10, 25, 50, and 100.
12. Shooting Stars
‘Shooting Stars,’ aka ‘Graffiti,’ boasts purple and white striped teardrop-shaped fruits that measure three to four inches long.
The skin is tender, and the white flesh is creamy and almost fruity with sweetness. During cooking, the stripes vanish like magic.
This early-maturing, heirloom variety is ready for picking in about 60 days.
‘Shooting Stars’ seeds are available from Burpee in packages of 30. Single starter plants or a three-plant mix and match combination are also available.
Open-pollinated ‘Snowy’ features white, cylindrical fruits measuring up to seven inches long.
They have a mild flavor, meaty flesh, and firm skin, making them suitable for your favorite slow-cooked dishes.
This early-maturing cultivar is ready to harvest in 60 to 65 days.
‘Snowy’ seeds are available from True Leaf Market in packages containing two grams, one ounce, four ounces, or one pound.
The six- to eight-inch oblong fruits of ‘Traviata’ are glossy and deep purple, almost black. The skin and flesh are firm for use in a variety of dishes.
Hybrid ‘Traviata’ matures in 55 to 60 days and produces a steady supply of produce for harvest.
‘Traviata’ seeds are available from High Mowing Seeds in a variety of packet sizes and in bulk.
15. Violetta di Firenze
The glossy, rounded purple fruits of heirloom ‘Violetta di Firenze’ are splashed with white. The deep pleating is like that of an heirloom tomato. They measure five to six inches around.
Firm and flavorful, this variety offers a meaty yet tender bite with creamy flesh.
Harvest in approximately 75 to 90 days.
‘Violetta di Firenze’ seeds are available from La Semiorto Sementi via Amazon in four-gram packages.
With 15 Italian eggplant varieties from which to choose, it’s time to take out your garden planner and decide where you’re going to put your favorites.
When your first harvest is in, jump over to our sister site, Foodal, for delicious eggplant recipes.
Small, sweet, and tender Italian eggplants with few seeds are sure to please the diners around your table.
One final note: As you shop for seeds, notice descriptions like “heirloom” and “non-gmo.” Some varieties are hybridized for greater disease resistance and productivity, particularly in commercial settings.
Others are genetically modified and parthenocarpic, which means that they can set fruit inside a greenhouse or poly-tunnel without pollination.
Please read seed descriptions and packet labels with care so you know exactly what you are purchasing.
Do you grow eggplants in your summer veggie garden? Tell us about them in the comments section below.
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