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The Ultimate Guide to Growing Black Beauty Eggplants

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The Black Beauty is a drought-tolerant eggplant introduced into the United States by the Burpee Seed Company in 1902. The fruit is pear-shaped and dark purple.

There are a couple of popular black-fruit eggplants, including the Campana Negra, Rhapsody, and San Marino F1 hybrids. Still, nothing beats the Black Beauty eggplant (Solanum melongena ‘Black Beauty’). This popular heirloom variety has been a favorite for more than 100 years.

Table of Contents

Black Beauty Eggplants Needs

Hardiness: Very tender warm-season plant
USDA Hardiness Zone: Perennial: 9 to 12Annual: 5 to 8
Growing Conditions: Shelter from cold drafts or winds.
Ambient Temperature:68 to 95 °F (20 to 35 °C)
Soil Temperature:77 °F (25 °C)
pH:Slightly acidic soil: 5.5 to 6.8.
Starting Plants:Seed indoors as annual or in situ as a perennial when soil temperatures permit
Light:Full sun with a minimum of 6 hours of direct daily sunlight 
Water: Fairly drought tolerant
Nutrition:Moderate feeder
Maturity: 75 to 90 days
Dimensions: 24 to 36 inches (60 to 90 cm) high and wide

Black Beauty Eggplants Sun, Soil, & Temperatures

Black Beauty eggplant plants like hot, full-sun locations. If you want to extend your Black Beauty eggplant growing season, start seeds in a sunny window and warm room six to eight weeks before the average last frost date.

Black Beauty eggplant seeds should be sown into an inert material like pumice, vermiculite, or perlite. Sow Black Beauty eggplant seeds a quarter inch (7 mm) deep and moisten the growing medium. 

Use a heating mat to keep growing medium temperatures at 77 °F (25 °C) to boost germination rates. 

Plant three early batches, each two weeks apart. If your optimism regarding the weather pays off, the early planted seeds can be transplanted early – if not, you have later sprouts ready to transplant.      

Remember that eggplant seeds (including the Black Beauty eggplant) are notoriously temperamental. Even at the optimal temperature of 77 °F (25 °C), you should only expect about 60% of seeds to germinate. Soaking the seed overnight may hasten germination.

Transplanting Black Beauty Eggplant Seedlings

Only transplant Black Beauty eggplant seedlings once the soil temperature exceeds 68 °F (20 °C) and each seedling has at least two true leaves. Start hardening the plant by incrementally exposing it to lower temperatures over several weeks. 

According to a recent study, exposing the Black Beauty Eggplant (and tomato) seedlings to 50 °F (10 °C) for 10 minutes daily over ten days will improve heat tolerance.

Row covers can protect your juvenile Black Beauty eggplant from pests and keep it warm while you wait for warm weather. Ensure the ground is rich in organic matter. Raided beds help soil heat faster and make vegetable growing easier, promoting better drainage.

Incorporate compost into beds in the fall for spring use. This allows organisms that might immobilize nitrogen to complete that process. It’s caused by adding uncured compost or organic material not yet fully degraded. 

Space plants about 2 feet (60 cm) apart, remembering that each Black Beauty eggplant can yield a dozen black beauty fruits.  

How to Grow Black Beauty Eggplants in Containers

The Black Beauty eggplant can yield 12 huge eggplants in a single season. Because the Black Beauty eggplant isn’t very tall (they max at about 40 inches), they’re great for growing in pots. 

They don’t have deep roots, so a 5-gallon pot would be enough to provide the support needed. ​The smaller varieties do pretty well in containers as long as they are at least 12 inches deep. . 

Fill the container with a mixture of potting soil and compost, and make sure to give your Black Beauty eggplants consistent water. Like the rest of the Solanaceae family (tomato, pepper, potato), the black beauty enjoys neither feast nor famine – steady moisture and nutrition.  

Container growing allows you to move your Black Beauty eggplant indoors if cold weather or frost threatens. Ensure your pots have adequate drainage holes.

Black Beauty Eggplant Fertilizer Needs

Avoid adding nitrogen too early. Black beauty eggplants only need 55 ounces of nitrogen per 1000 square feet throughout the season. Up the phosphorus and potassium feeding once the fruits start forming.

Early Black Beauty Eggplant Crops

As mentioned earlier, you can get your crop in the ground as soon as your seedlings are ready and the dirt’s temperature exceeds 68 °F (20 °C). Generally, that’s four to six weeks after the last frost date.

The Black Beauty Eggplant is cold-averse. The plant has evolved to manage high temperatures well and should follow tomato transplants in a couple of weeks. There are ways to heat beds by using dark-colored mulch. 

Be careful when transplanting, as any damage will show up as poor growth and delayed fruiting.

Harvest Black Beauty Eggplant Seeds

The Black Beauty eggplant thrives in USDA Zones 10 and above as a perennial. In cooler climates, you will need to grow the Black Beauty eggplant as an annual. Fortunately, Black Beauty eggplant seeds are inexpensive compared to the F1 hybrids mentioned in the intro paragraph.

Seeds can be harvested from super-ripe fruits, so let one of your Black Beauty eggplants grow fully ripe for harvesting the seeds. Only harvest seeds from healthy, robust plants. Don’t eat an overripe fruit, as it will taste disgustingly bitter.

Storing Black Beauty Eggplants

Once harvested, the shelf life of eggplants is minimal. If you don’t plan on using your freshly picked Black Beauty eggplants within the next few days, refrigerate them below 41 °F (5 °C) immediately.

Another option is to keep them in a cool cellar or basement (about 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius is optimal). Also, separate your eggplants from ethylene gas-releasing fruits and vegetables like bananas and tomatoes. 

Care should be taken to prevent the accidental poisoning of children and pets if eggplant is grown in a home vegetable garden.

The plant is dangerous, but the fruits and seeds can be safely eaten, though they’re unsuitable for raw consumption. They are best when cooked in the oven, in a stew, or an air-fryer. 

It’s best to avoid eating any other part of this plant, including the flowers, leaves, and roots. Solanine is one of the alkaloids found in them. It can cause severe burns to the throat, stomach pain, vomiting, and potentially deadly arrhythmias if ingested.