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Conventional and Specialty Eggplant Varieties in Florida

Monica Ozores-Hampton

Eggplants (Solanum melongena L.) are members of the nightshade family Solanaceae. Cultural practices employed in eggplant production are similar to other agronomic members of the Solanaceae family, such as tomatoes and peppers. Eggplants are warm-season plants that are more vulnerable to cold temperatures than tomatoes. For most of the nation, eggplants are best suited for production during warmer months. However, in south Florida, where winters are mild and freezes are infrequent, eggplants are planted from August to March (Andersen 2013). Eggplants grow best when started from transplants initially grown in protected structures, such as greenhouses, and they prefer well-drained, sandy, and loam soil with temperatures between 70°F to 85°F (Doubrava and Miller 2003). Although eggplants are considered vegetables, botanically they are a fruit because they derive from an ovary. Because of their cooking versatility and ability to absorb flavor, eggplants are used in many cultural dishes and cuisines. Even though eggplants are not a high source of any vitamin or mineral, they can add color and flavor to dishes with minimal calories (one cup of cooked eggplant is 38 calories). Most eggplant varieties are fairly similar except for the size and skin, and they can be used interchangeably in recipes.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not collected complete domestic production statistics for eggplants since 2001 (Huntrods and Lore 2012). That year, US eggplant production was valued at $42.5 million, and Georgia, Florida, California, New Jersey, and New York were the top five producers. From winter 2007 to winter 2009, Florida's average national market share for eggplants was 24%. In 2007, Florida was ranked second in eggplant production with 76 farms harvesting 1,173 acres (USDA 2009). California statistics for 2009 indicate the state harvested more than 17,300 short tons of eggplants valued at $11.8 million. In 2011, California was the largest eggplant producer with 1,446 acres (Thornsbury 2013). The average yield of eggplant is 762 bushels per acre (bu./ac.) with an approximate price of $14 per 1/9 bushel box (in 2017) (USDA ARS 2017). Eggplants are sold during an approximate 10-month period throughout the year—with 25% harvested in the winter (January–March), 40% harvested in the spring (April–mid-July), and 35% harvested in the fall (mid-September­–December). South Florida is the main region for eggplant production in the state. The majority of the harvested acreage is in Palm Beach County, with significant production in Miami-Dade, Hendry, Collier, Manatee, Lee, and Hillsborough Counties. The remainder of eggplant production is distributed throughout the state (UF/IFAS Extension Hendry County director Gene McAvoy, personal communication).

Eggplant Varieties

Here is a guide to eggplant varieties commonly used in Florida (Tables 1 and 2):


Table 1. 

Conventional, specialty, and heirloom eggplant varieties for Florida.




Season (Relative Maturity)

Characteristics of Plant and Fruit



Typical American: Usually packed in a decaliter or a modified 1 1/9-bu. box and graded either "fancy" or "choice" with three sizes: giant (12–14 count), fancy (16–18 count), and small (20–24 count).


Harris Moran Seed Company

Clifton Seed Company, Harris Seeds, and Seedway

65 days

Plants are erect, vigorous, and tall. The upright plants support heavy yields of high-quality fruit, which becomes smaller as the plant matures. The oval fruit is elongated and glossy with a green calyx. The deep purple-black fruit has a fancy appearance and may turn a reddish color when mature.

R to ToM

Classic is the industry standard in dark-purple eggplants. The plants do not perform well in cooler weather.


Vilmorin Vegetable Seeds

Johnny's Selected Seeds, Osborne Seed Company, Reimer Seeds, Siegers Seed Co., and Stokes Seeds Inc.

70 days

Plants are strong, tall, and vigorous. Plants produce high yields of oval, long, and very firm fruit. The attractive, purple-black fruit has a long harvest period.

R to ToM

Good fruit sets under cool conditions. The fruit has an excellent shelf life.

Night Shadow


Osborne Seed Company, Siegers Seed Co., and Stokes Seeds Inc.

75 days

Plants are strong and widely adapted with a high-yield potential. Plants produce firm, elongated, and oval fruit that maintains a rich, glossy, and black color through harvest.

R to BES, TM, ToM

Plants have reduced blossom-end scar. Plants are suitable for freezing.



Chile, Clifton Seed Company, and Siegers Seed Co.

80 days

Plants are tall, vigorous, and upright with few spines. Fruit has a firm, glossy, and black-purple exterior. The fruit has a white flesh with an attractive, bright-green calyx.


Plants continuously set. Early fruit is smaller (22–24 count).


Enza Zaden

Harris Seeds, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Johnny's Selected Seeds, Osborne Seed Company, The Natural Gardening Company, and West Coast Seeds

68 days

Plants are well balanced and produce fruit that is strong growing, high quality, and firm. Fruit look smaller (22–24 count) but are very uniform in size. Fruit has a very attractive, shiny, and purple color.


Plants are recommended for spring and summer protected crop and open field cultivation. Plants are continuous and have a very high overall production.

Organic seed available.


Sicilian: Usually packed in a decaliter box or a modified 1 1/9-bu. box.



Stokes Seeds Inc.

65 days

Plants have round, heavy, and firm fruit. Fruit has a deep-purple color and white flesh.

R to ToM

Fruit has a sweet taste.

Italian Pink Bicolor


Stokes Seeds Inc.

75 days

Plants have oval fruit with a creamy rose color that matures to a rose-pink color with a purple calyx.


Plants are open pollinated and suitable for freezing.

White: Usually packed in a half bu. box.


Harris Moran Seed Company

Clifton Seed Company, Harris Seeds, and Seedway

72 days

Plants are broad and semi-upright. Plants produce white, oval-shaped fruit that is 6­ to 7-inches long.


Fruit is sweeter and tastier than dark-skinned varieties. Fruit is best harvested early before it starts to turn yellow.

Italian: Usually packed in a half bu. box


Vilmorin Vegetable Seeds

Chile, Osborne Seed Company, Siegers Seed Co., Stokes Seeds Inc., and Reimer Seeds

62 days

Plants have Italian, cylindrical fruit with a purple-black color. Fruit is very uniform with only a few spines.

R to CM and TM, ToM

Fruit has an excellent shelf life and flavor. Plants are recommended for local markets and specialty growers.


Not available

Chile, OSC Seeds, Reimer Seeds, Seeds of Change, and Sweet Corn Organic Nursery

61 days

Plants have very long cylindrical and deep-purple fruit with a green calyx.

R to TM

Fruit has a mild flavor. Organic seed available.


Japanese: Usually packed in a half bu. box.


Not available

Burpee, Evergreen Seeds, Jung, Kitazawa Seed Co., Osborne Seed Company, Reimer Seeds, Stokes Seeds Inc., and Territorial Seed Company

55 days

Plants have slender, oriental-type fruit that is dark purple. The fruit also has a purple calyx, soft skin, and tender flesh.


Plants are good for greenhouses, open fields, and home gardens.

Spanish or Dominican: Usually packed in a decaliter box or a modified 1 1/9-bu. box.


Not available

Reimer Seeds and Morningsun Herb Farm

65 days

Plants have elongated and oval-shaped fruit. Fruit is variegated with purple and white stripes and grows about 8 inches long by 4 inches wide.


Fruit is very attractive and has a good flavor.



Table 2. 

Disease key to abbreviations.


Blossom end scar


Cucumber mosaic virus


Tobacco mosaic virus


Tomato mosaic virus





Figure 1. Classic
Figure 1.  Classic
Credit: Harris Moran Seed Company



Figure 2. Nadia
Figure 2.  Nadia
Credit: Reimer Seeds



Figure 3. Night Shadow
Figure 3.  Night Shadow
Credit: Monica Ozores-Hampton, UF/IFAS



Figure 4. Santana
Figure 4.  Santana
Credit: Clifton Seed Co.



Figure 5. Traviata
Figure 5.  Traviata
Credit: High Mowing Organic Seeds



Figure 6. Birgah
Figure 6.  Birgah
Credit: Monica Ozores-Hampton, UF/IFAS



Figure 7. Ghostbuster
Figure 7.  Ghostbuster
Credit: Reimer Seeds



Figure 8. Megal
Figure 8.  Megal
Credit: Monica Ozores-Hampton, UF/IFAS



Figure 9. Vittoria
Figure 9.  Vittoria
Credit: Reimer Seeds



Figure 10. Millionaire
Figure 10.  Millionaire
Credit: Burpee



Figure 11. Zebra
Figure 11.  Zebra
Credit: Monica Ozores-Hampton, UF/IFAS



Andersen, C. R. 2013. Eggplant. Univ. Arkansas. Agri. and Natural Resources. Home Gardening Series FSA6010. 1 Sept. 2013. Accessed August 3, 2022.

Doubrava, N., and G. Miller. 2003. Eggplant. Clemson Univ. Coop. Ext. Home and Garden Info. Ctr. HGIC 1310. Accessed August 3, 2022.

Huntrods, D., and J. Lore. 2012. Eggplant Profile. Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC), Iowa State Univ. Accessed August 3, 2022.

Thornsbury, S., H. F. Wells, and J. Bond. 2013. "Vegetables and Pulses Yearbook Data." US Department of Agriculture. August 3, 2022.

US Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2009. 2007 Census of Agriculture. Accessed August 3, 2022.

US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS). 2017. ChicagoTerminal Prices.

Publication #HS1243

Release Date:March 30, 2018

Reviewed At:October 15, 2021

Related Experts

Ozores-Hampton, Monica

University of Florida

Related Topics

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this publication do not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition.

Fact Sheet

About this Publication

This document is HS1243, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 2014. Revised October 2017. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Monica Ozores-Hampton, associate professor; UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, Immokalee, FL 34142.