Eggplants, also called aubergines, are a staple in many growers’ gardens. Not only are they one of the typical summer vegetables, they also bring color to your garden in ways that tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and other vegetables can’t.
We all love seeing that vibrant, glossy purple color when walking through the garden, so when you notice your eggplants are turning yellow, it may cause you to worry. However, for the eggplant fruit itself, it’s not the sign of a problem.
Eggplants naturally turn yellow/brown when they fully ripen, as purple eggplants are technically underripe fruit. However, fully ripe eggplants are not really edible, so pick them before they turn yellow. Note that some eggplant varieties are naturally yellow when unripe, too. If your eggplant leaves are turning yellow, however, hat could be a sign of disease, pest damage, or a nutrient deficiency.
Reasons Why Your Eggplants (Fruits) Are Turning Yellow
Your Eggplants Are Getting Ripe (Overripe)
Egplants are actually picked when unripe. Even if you see seeds in the fruit, they are technically not fully developed seeds. Ripe eggplants almost always turn some shade of yellow/brown when fully ripe. The purple eggplants we all know and love are the unripe fruit of the plant.
Unfortunately, truly ripe eggplants are very bitter and tough, not good to eat. In fact, if you pick your yellow eggplants, you will immediately notice how fibrous and terrible they taste. And the seeds will also be very tough. However, if your eggplants are just starting to turn yellow, you may be able to salvage them.
You Have a True Yellow Variety of Eggplant
Eggplants can come in different colors, so it’s possible, but unlikely by accident, that you are growing a true yellow eggplant.
Most eggplants come in a shade of purple, although some varieties are white (fun fact: the name “eggplant” comes from the appearance of white, egg-shaped eggplants). Some Southeast Asian varieties can also come in green and bright yellow or orange. Thai Yellow Egg and Thai Yellow Long are two true yellow varieties of eggplants.
Causes of Yellowing Eggplant Leaves
If your eggplant leaves are turning yellow, that is an entirely different issue, and is likely a sign of either disease, pests, a lack of nitrogen in the soil or other nutrient deficiency.
Pests such as spider mites can do enough damage to cause the yellowing and defoliation of eggplants. Spider mite damage starts off with tiny spots forming on your leaves, then yellowing, and finally curling and falling off. You may even notice many tiny webs (but don’t confuse spider mites with true spiders which are beneficial). Aphids are another common pest, but they are easier to notice when they heavily infest an eggplant.
For these types of pests, you can apply insecticidal soap, on the top and bottom of the leaves and along the stem and branches. Apply as per the instructions, but most insecticidal soaps recommend weekly applications until the pests are gone.
If your plants otherwise look healthy but have yellow leaves, it could be a sign of a nitrogen deficiency, especially if the new leaves are light green while the older leaves turn yellow. A magnesium deficiency can also cause yellowing of eggplant leves but you will instead notice that the leaves turn yellow from the edge inward while the veins remain green. Applying a well-balanced fertilizer with micronutrients can resolve both of these issues. Learn more about plant nutrients here.