Is This Cold Damage?
Hi Everyone; Hope you all had and are having a wonderful holiday season! We have successfully kept our eggplants alive since they were planted in March of this year. They even survived the 110+ degree temperatures of the Sonoran Desert Summer. We have gotten a good bit of rain the last few weeks, but this actually started before the rains came. I think the zone we live in is 9 - The Phoenix Valley in Arizona. I know that eggplants are perennials, and I am planning on keeping them alive. We have had some nights where the temperature went into the upper 30\'s (38, 39) but it has mainly been between 40 to about 53 or so at night and mainly in the 60\'s in the day with some days in the lower 70\'s and some in the upper 50\'s. The top leaves on our white eggplant have started to curl, and the fruit itself seems to want to stay shrouded in the part of the blossom that attaches to the stem of the plant. All of our eggplants have leaves that look like they\'ve taken a beating in a terrible wind storm - torn leaves, holes in leaves, dry, brown leaves. I\'ve attached photos so you could see what I am talking about. All of the plants are in the ground, except two, which are both in the same pot. They are still setting fruit, although it is taking a lot longer for the fruit to ripen. My question is this - Is this damage caused by cold weather? Should I have already been covering the plants, even though we were not in any real danger of frost yet? Or, is it time to harvest the remaining fruit and cut the plants back to being just stems so they can rest and re-sprout in the spring? I should also mention that we have some tomato plants and some Chard, and some Spinach, and they all seem to be fine - growing very slowly - but fine. When my husband first decided last year that we would have a garden, I thought it was a great idea. Now, however, I am fully into it, and trying to decide how to make our garden into a small urban farm. Thank you all for your help, and have a wonderful New Year!
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
You are at the margin of their hardiness zone, not to the point where they won't survive, but to a point that they will experience a dormancy. What you are seeing is normal behavior at this time of year, and it may even drop all of its leaves.
You can choose to cover it, but it will be fully hardy, returning in the spring.
This collection of articles will offer more information on the care of eggplants: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/category/edible/vegetables/eggplant