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How to Grow Pumpkin on a Stick or Ornamental Eggplant

Pumpkin on a Stick ,Ornamental Eggplant

Take a good look at this plant. Closely examine the fruit. If you had not seen the name at the top of the page, could you guess what it is? Observing the fruit, most people guess it is a (strange) variety of pumpkin. That's why it's often called "Pumpkin on a Stick" or a "Pumpkin Tree". Others, speculate that it may be a foreign tomato, lending to the name "Mock Tomato". Few people guess what botanists call it..... Ornamental Eggplant (Solanum Integrifolium). The plant and fruit looks like no Eggplant that anyone has ever seen....unless you live in Asia, that is.

Ornamental Eggplant is a novel plant, and is native to Southeast Asia. It will grow quickly to three to four feet tall. Very large leaves grow from a purple, thorny stem. Be careful of the thorns, when working with the plant.

Whatever you call this plant (it has many names), it is truly a conversation piece in your garden. We will let you decide whether to place it in the flower garden, or the vegetable garden.  Here are some of the many names it has:

  • Pumpkin on a Stick

  • Pumpkin Tree

  • Pumpkin Bush

  • Ornamental Eggplant

  • Hmong Eggplant - Hmong tribes are found in Laos and Vietnam

  • Solanum Integrifolium

  • Mock Tomato

  • Japanese Golden Eyes

  • Chinese Scarlet Eggplant


Ornamental Eggplants, Mock Tomato

So, what do you do with this great plant? Here are a few common uses:

  • Florists remove the leaves, let the fruit dry, and use the stem with fruit attached, in floral decorations.

  • Asian cultures eat the fruit in Asian stir fries

  • Home gardeners show it off as a unique, conversation piece. People are captivated.

We suggest you grow this fascinating plant in a flower garden near your patio or deck, or a high traffic area. Half the fun of this easy to grow plant, is to watch visitor's fascination, and to hear them speculate as to what it is.  

Pumpkin on a Stick  


Ornamental Eggplant  is grown from seed. They can be directly seeded into your garden, or seeded indoors for transplanting later. We recommend an early, indoor start. Sow seeds early in the season and cover lightly with 1/4" or less of fine garden or seed starting soil.

Plants can also be grown from cuttings. However, plants are annuals, and the season may not be long enough to grow new plants from cuttings.

Do not set out seedlings until after the last frost date your area.  Plants are susceptible to frost.

How to Grow Ornamental Eggplant:

Ornamental Eggplant is easy to grow. It likes full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. Plants grow three to four feet, with huge leaves. Give this plant plenty of room to grow. Ideal plant spacing is three feet apart. 

The soil should be rich, and drain well. Mix compost into the soil, prior to planting.

These plants like a lot of water and nutrients. While they like lots of water, they do not like wet soil. Keep soil moist, not wet. Add fertilizer when planting, and every month during the season.

Early in the season, add mulch around the plants to keep the weeds down. 

Small flowers will begin to develop from the main stem in mid summer. Three to four flowers will form in a cluster, followed by small green fruit. The Eggplant ripens to a deep, red-orange color.

Plants can grow 3-4 feet tall. They will likely require staking, as the fruit develops. Otherwise, the weight of many growing fruit will cause the plant to droop, and stems may break.  

Plants are annuals that are susceptible to frost. Cover them up whenever cold temperatures are expected.

Caution: Be careful when first working with this plant. It has many long, sharp thorns on both the stems and the leaves.


Eggplants are used in Asian stir fry recipes. Pick fruit when they turn reddish orange. It has a slightly bitter taste.

For floral displays and arrangements: After the fruit has ripened, cut  the stems near the ground. Remove leaves. Breaking off thorns is optional. Mix them amidst a variety of seasonal flowers. Allowing the fruit to dry first, will make them long-lasting. Drying will take a long time.  Dry in a cool, well ventilated location. Once dry, they can be used in dried flower arrangements.

Insect and Disease:

A variety of insects may eat the leaves of the plant. Treat with insecticide or repellents, as needed.

Deer, bunnies and other foraging animals leave the plant alone. They do not like the plant's thorns.

Fungus diseases can occur. Use a general purpose fungicide in humid weather, and when problems appear.

More on Plant Problem Diseases and Problems

More Information:

Pumpkin on a Stick


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