Eggplants are a wonderful addition to your botany garden, mainly for their beautiful and distinct purple color. They’re low-maintenance vegetables and quite easy to take care of.
That’s why it can be frustrating when you notice your Eggplant leaves turning yellow. While it may be a result of a simple issue, such as heat exposure, you may have a pest problem on your hands.
Either way, we’re here to help! In this detailed care guide, we’ll take you through every possible reason for eggplant leaves turning yellow. As a plus, we show you how to both identify and fix this issue.
Let’s get started!
Fun fact: Eggplants belong to the same plant family as tomatoes, namely Solanaceae, or what’s locally known as the Nightshade plants.
Vegetables that belong to this group primarily use their leaves as a way to tell the gardener if something’s wrong. The golden rule here is that you can tell the health of your Eggplant from the state of its leaves.
In other words, if you find the leaves curling, deforming, yellowing, discoloring, fading, or even spotting, then there’s a good chance your Eggplant needs attending to right away.
Healthy Eggplant leaves are supposed to be big, and have a thick, fuzzy coating, with a woody stem running in the middle.
That said, there are multiple causes behind Eggplant leaves showing signs of yellowing. This section will explain the most common of them.
An irregular watering schedule is a common trap that many beginners fall into. It’s also the first reason that causes Eggplant leaves to yellow.
If you’re watering the plant too often or not watering it enough; either way, you’ll notice a yellowing pattern appear on the leaves’ surface. Typically, it starts from the base of the leaves and gradually makes its way to the top.
In case of a water shortage, an Eggplant, or any other vegetable, will curl its leaves as a way to preserve water and prevent it from evaporating too fast. This results in the degradation of the basic cellular level of the leaves, causing them to yellow.
On the other hand, excessive water in the soil not only flushes out necessary nutrients in the soil, but also stresses out your Eggplant. In turn, its leaves wilt and yellow.
We’re not the only ones that can get sunburnt. Certain plants and vegetables are sensitive to the sun and as a result, yellow spots appear on their leaves.
An Aubergine, or Eggplant, falls under this category. Eggplants can’t tolerate direct sunlight and shouldn’t be kept where the climate is hot. Scorching sunbeams greatly harm both the vegetable itself and its leaves.
If you decide to keep your Eggplant out in the sun, you’ll notice that the leaves will begin to curl too. That’s the plant’s defense mechanism that it uses to store more water so the sunlight doesn’t evaporate it.
Consequently, you’ll find yourself needing to water the vegetable more often just so the soil is moist enough to allow for the Eggplant’s growth. It’s simply easier and less harmful for your plant if you move it away from the sun.
The Nightshade family is highly susceptible to fungal problems. Many types of fungus enjoy feeding on Solanaceae vegetables, starting with their leaves.
Eggplants are more likely to be attacked by two particular kinds of fungus, namely Verticillium Wilt and Early Blight. Each of these fungal diseases infects the soil as well, rendering it unsuitable for replanting purposes later on.
The sure way to tell if your Eggplant is facing a fungus issue is if the yellowing traces began from the stem of the plant. Fungi usually appear in the soil first before they make their way through to the Eggplant.
Unfortunately, a fungal infection is hard to treat. Since the pathogens eat up the roots as well, they’ll fully stunt the growth of your crop, rendering the whole spot useless. If the fungus isn’t in its early stages, then you have no choice but to replace the soil and seeds entirely.
An important fact to keep in mind is that an Eggplant tree needs multiple minerals to thrive. This vegetable’s soil should be rich in potassium, nitrogen, magnesium, and phosphorus.
A small dip in any of these essential minerals leads to the Eggplant’s leaves turning yellow. Each element helps the plant carry out complex chemical reactions that primarily take place in the leaves.
You’ll know the Eggplant soil has a nitrogen deficiency if the entire plant has become yellow. A lack of potassium, on the other hand, will turn only the leaves’ edges yellow. Not enough magnesium, however, will cause the yellowing of the plant’s veins.
It’s recommended then, that you do a soil test to check for the mineral levels present. Compost, organic mulch, and fertilizer are other great options to help fix this problem too.
Another mistake new growers of Eggplant make is not harvesting the vegetable soon enough. Leaving your Eggplant to fully ripen is never a good call. In fact, Eggplants are among the few plants that should be picked unripened!
We all know that an Aubergine is traditionally purple-colored so it makes sense to cut them off the tree once they’ve reached that color. Simply put, an Eggplant’s seeds shouldn’t be left to fully develop.
When you leave an Eggplant to truly ripen, you’ll notice the yellow spots beginning to appear on both the plant and its leaves. The vegetable itself turns bitter, tough, and becomes inedible. Even the seeds harden and can’t be replanted.
In short, don’t allow your Eggplants to reach the mature stage. Instead, the best time to harvest them will be 65 to 80 days after planting them (the number may change depending on the variety of Eggplant you have).
Much like fungi, pests are also a prevalent issue when it comes to growing Eggplants. Because these insects favor feeding on the leaves of Nightshade plants, there’s a good chance they’re behind the leaves yellowing.
You can identify a pest infection by checking the underside of the Eggplant leaves. If you notice the bottom of the leaves turning a coppery bronze, along with the tops becoming yellow, then you have a pest problem on your hands.
The common kinds of pests that typically attack Eggplants are Spider Mites, Flea Bettles, Lace Bugs, and Aphids. They cause minimal damage to the leaves; with time, they begin to curl and then fall off.
Pests should be handled as soon as possible—the reason being that gradually, the mites would eat all the leaves, eventually killing the Eggplant before feeding on it as well.
Viral infections are a pretty serious problem. They happen when a gardener doesn’t regularly clean out their tools or when a wounded animal lies in the soil. Using infected plants as compost might also cause this issue.
Plant viruses are sadly incurable. If you suspect that your Eggplant is carrying a virus, it’s best that you remove it immediately. You shouldn’t reuse the plant or salvage it either.
Identifying an Eggplant virus is quite easy. Not only will the leaves be yellow, but you may notice dislocation spots, irregular patterns, brown rings, or blotches. In case you leave the virus untreated, the plant will eventually die.
The good news, however, is that if the virus has only reached the leaves, you can salvage the situation by removing and destroying the infected parts.
Eggplants are a summer vegetable. Their harvesting seasons start from July and usually last all summer—often until the beginning of October too. As a result, Eggplants don’t do well in low temperatures.
In other words, your Eggplant leaves turning yellow may be a direct result of them being subjected to a chilly climate. Cold air causes the leaves to appear wet and soggy.
Not just that, but temperatures below 60°F will even affect the plant itself. You’ll know if an Eggplant has sustained cold damage if the outside is a bronze color and the leaves are about to turn black.
Additionally, you’ll notice that the seeds have turned brown due to the excessive humidity that comes with low temperatures. Simply put, Eggplants rot quicker when the moisture levels are high.
Tobacco Mosaic virus prevails in most gardens and greens. It’s the least likely cause for the yellowing of your Eggplant leaves, but it’s still pretty possible.
This virus usually begins with just a simple discoloration before it fully covers each leaf. In fact, a clear sign that an Eggplant is infected with this virus would be if the yellow spots are appearing in the shape of a pinecone or a fern.
Much like other plant viruses, Mosaic is contacted when the gardener uses dirty tools and ends up moving soil from one infected plant to another. This results in the virus eating up the leaves, curling and drooping them over time.
Causes for Tobacco Mosaic may also include the excess or lack of light, in addition to low temperatures. The virus will harden the vegetable’s insides too, rendering them inedible as well.
Lucky for most gardeners, plant leaves turning yellow is quite a popular problem to have. It’s not a completely irreversible issue though, meaning, you can easily fix it.
In this section, we’ll go through our favorite tips on how to save your Eggplant’s leaves from continuing to yellow.
Watering your Eggplant might be a tricky business, but you just need to remember one simple rule: that the soil should never be moist. That’s because wet soil is the ideal habitat for pests, diseases, and fungi to reproduce.
You can use a moisture meter to determine if the soil is dry enough to water. Another good trick is to stick a fingertip in the soil before watering and check whether or not the top inch or two is already moist.
Additionally, keep in mind that an Eggplant’s water requirements will depend on the surrounding climate and temperatures. For instance, strong heat leads to the fast evaporation of water, meaning, you may need to water the plant two times a week instead of one.
Using the right soil, potting mix, and fertilizer are all essential factors in growing any plant. Fruits and vegetables, including Eggplants, are extra sensitive to their growing habitat as well.
For your Eggplant, you need to make sure that its container or pot is well-drained. This helps the plant flush out excess water or waste whenever needed. Additionally, the pot should be wide and deep enough for the Eggplant’s growth (14″ and 20″, respectively).
You should also avoid using the standard peat moss soil for your Eggplant too. Instead, go for loamy or sandy soil. As for the fertilizer, choose a balanced, slow-release one, that’s rich in mineral contents.
We know that the idea of using pesticide or insecticide is normally frowned upon, but applying it fairly would really help in protecting your Eggplant from common infections.
So while the process is complicated, there are a few rules you can abide by to correctly use pesticides on your Eggplant. For starters, you should avoid spraying chemicals onto the edible surfaces of the plant.
Another tip would be not to overuse the insecticide since pests will become more immune to the chemicals over time. Limit usage to at least one time per week. Organic pesticides, such as neem oil and spinosad are great options too.
Eggplant leaves turning yellow is a pretty ordinary problem to face when growing this beloved vegetable. What’s important is that you tackle the issues early and that you identify the cause correctly.
The most common reasons for the yellowing of Eggplant leaves include irregular watering, nutritionless soil, overripening, and frequent exposure to heat. Less prevalent ones would be a pestering fungal problem, a virus, or a plant disease.
With the right adjustments, you’ll be able to salvage your delicious Eggplants!
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.