How to Grow Pumpkin on a Stick or 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:
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
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
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
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
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
on a Stick