Eggplants are perennial plants but my plants used to just die off after a few months. I found out that what kills them is nematodes, small microorganisms in the soil that eat and deform their roots. You can prevent this by grafting your eggplant onto a hardier root stock and having bountiful eggplants from the same plant for 10 years or more in subtropical or tropical areas.
To learn more about what an eggplant tree is check out my article in this blog, “Hello, Perennial Eggplant Tree?”
In the article you are reading now, you will learn how to perform the simple grafting technique to help you make the graft. Then just like the farm, you can have eggplants any time you want them.
Supplies you will need:
- razor or sharp grafting knife
- grafting tape or parafilm
- green nursery tape
- scion wood (from a healthy eggplant)
- root stock (Naranjilla or Solanum Torvum aka Turkey Berry) Rootstock seeds are available at our online store.
The grafting technique which works the best is called a veneer graft. Use generally a larger in diameter root stock to eggplant branch tip. (This graft is also good for durian, macadamia nuts, jakfruit or any smaller-sized scion wood.)
The root stock plant or seedling (your potted or rooted Naranjilla or Turkey Berry) which you will be grafting onto should be somewhat aged and be brown not green (also called hard wood). Note: Turkey Berry will root from cuttings.
The scion should be 2-3 inches in length, have 2-3 nodes, be as straight as possible without any kinks or bends and is found at the tip of an eggplant branch (also known as green wood). Remove all leaves but be careful not to damage the area where new growth or axillary buds start.
Preparing the root stock
With your razor or grafting knife, shave a section of the bark 2 inches long, about a foot above the soil level. Try and keep it to one cut and as straight as possible. You will need to cut the scion to match the cuts in the rootstock.
Preparing the scion
It is important to match the two pieces together at the cambium layers (just under the bark) on each, especially at top and bottom. If you can’t get both sides to match up exactly, make sure you at least get one side to match up at the cambium layer.
Use green nursery tape to wrap up the graft nice and tight. Make sure you don’t move the pieces at this point. Keep cambium layers touching. Cover graft and scion with parafilm or bag to keep graft dry from rain or water and to keep moisture in.
- take leaves off of seedling–can leave a few below the graft.
- attach your scion to root stock immediately after cutting from plant
- make cut on opposite side of nodes but not through them as it does not make a a smooth cut
- keep grafted plant in partial sun
- when leaves start to emerge from parafilm, time to cut off green tape
- if graft scion turns black, it’s pau try again
- remove first flowers to ensure a good graft