Eggplant Leaves: Curling, Pests, Yellowing, Spots, and more

Growing Black Beauty eggplants has made me appreciate the resilience of eggplant leaves.

Don’t get me wrong, flea beetles and stinkbugs are only two of many pests that have tried to ruin my harvest this season. Still, I see fruits and am amazed at how the plants keep growing while under constant attack.

Eggplants are nightshade vegetables, like potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers, and are fierce growers with their robust wooden stems, large-leafed foliage, and delicate violet flowers. 

But of course, we grow eggplants for the glossy, deep purple fruit that seemingly appears like magic.

As an avid gardener, I am here to look closer at the world of eggplant leaves and answer the most common questions, sometimes puzzling even experienced gardeners. 

From pests and discoloration to unexpected curling and holes, let’s take a closer look at the lives of eggplant leaves to help you grow stronger and healthier plants. 

Common Questions about Eggplant Leaves

Eggplants develop strong branches with large leaves and may look almost indestructible at first sight.

Let’s look at some of the most common questions that arise:

What Is Eating My Eggplant Leaves?

There is always a delicate balance between plant health and growing fruits you want to eat while keeping plants pest-free. 

And strong as they may be, the leaves are by no means immune to problems and suffer from a wide array of pests and unwelcome insects. 

Aphids: Sap-sucking pests gather on the underside of leaves.Cause distortion and yellowing of leaves.
Flea Beetles: Small, jumping beetles that create tiny holes in leaves, giving the leaves a “shot-gun” appearance.Stunts plants and spread diseases.
Spider Mites: Microscopic sap-sucking pests cause yellowing leaves, stippling, and fine webbing and thrive in hot and dry conditions.Yellowing leaves and stippling.
Whiteflies: Small, white insects gather on the leaves underside, sucking plant juices and excreting sticky honeydewYellowing leaves and mould growth.
Caterpillars: Small, white insects gather on the leaves underside, sucking plant juices and excreting sticky honeydewHoles on leaves and can consume whole leaves if left unchecked.
Thrips: Tiny insects that feed by rasping leaf surfaces and sucking out plant juices.Cause stippling and discoloration on leaves.
Cutworms: Nocturnal caterpillars chew through stems near the soil level, causing plants to wilt or die, particularly damaging to eggplant seedlings.Can kill young plants
Leafhoppers: Small insects that feed on plant sap and transmit plant diseases.Cause stippling and discolouration on leaves.
Cause stippling and discoloration on leaves.Can consume entire plants if left unchecked
Slugs and Snails: Soft-bodied mollusks that feed on young leaves, leaving irregular holes and a slimy trail – thrive in moist environments.Silvery, papery, distorted, or discolored leaves.

Shotgun look on leaf
Flea beetles and aphids can cause a shot-gun look

All these troublemakers will chomp away at your eggplant’s leaves, causing damage and distress.

And I will give you three ways to fight them.

Fighting pests causing damage to eggplant leaves

From my experience, avoiding pests attacking the leaves is difficult.  

You could cover your eggplants with row covers to protect the leaves from pests, but it is impractical as the plants grow large. 

My plants growing in grow bags have suffered less from pests than plants growing in raised beds and in the ground. It is an anecdotal observation but the evidence is clear based on more than 10 plants. 

Your best bet is to combine the three methods below:

Manual inspection and removal: It all starts with manual inspections and removal of pests and unwanted insects. Check your plants at different times, and remember to use a flashlight at night. 

Introducing beneficial insects: Buy beneficial insects, let some of your herbs flower, or grow flowers near your eggplants. Do what you can, but from my experience, a lot is won by letting some herbs flower or growing, for example, lavender and marigold near your eggplants. 

Organic pest control: Treating plants with Neem oil spray or insecticidal soap works well for me. Always spray early in the morning or late evening to avoid direct sunlight and potentially harming pollinators. 

Holes in leaves
Slugs and snails create large holes
Eggplant leaves are strong and can withstand some pests without being severely affected. Try to find a balance and remember that many pollinators and beneficial insects munch on pests.

Why Are My Eggplant Leaves Turning Yellow?

Yellowing leaves are no fun sight for gardeners. There are several reasons why your eggplant leaves turn yellow.

The most obvious reason for yellowing leaves is nutrient deficiency, particularly nitrogen deficiency. Eggplants are fierce growers and must be fertilized to grow, thrive and produce fruits. Giving your plants a well-balanced fertilizer will often help address this condition.

Other causes of yellowing leaves include overwatering, poor drainage, and cold soil temperatures. 

Last but not least, several pests will cause leaves to turn yellow, including aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies.

Why Are My Eggplant Leaves Turning White?

The leaves can turn white for a host of different reasons. Here are the 4 most common from my experience. 

Intense sunlight can cause sunburn, where even sturdy eggplant leaves parch and bleach, leaving you with white papery leaves.

Pest infestations from sap-sucking pests, insects, and mites can cause leaves to lose their vibrant green color and turn light brown to white. 

Iggegular watering, often in combination with insufficient fertilization, can cause the edges of leaves to go white and brittle as the plant cannot absorb nutrients from the soil. 

Dramatic swings in temperature can cause leaves to whiten and go pale and brittle. Eggplants like warm soil temperatures and sudden temperature drops can severely stunt the plant.

Why Are My Eggplant Leaves Wilting?

The main reason for leaves wilting is that the plant is not getting enough water due to insufficient watering. Eggplants are fierce growers; the leaves droop and wilt when the roots cannot access water.

The good news is that eggplants will forgive you a light dry-out, but you will most likely lose some leaves, buds, flowers, or fruits, depending on the plant’s stage of development. 

Forgetting to harden off your eggplants before transplanting them outdoors can cause plants to experience transplant shock, where leaves droop and wilt. It is key to gradually introduce your plants to the outdoors over at least one week to avoid shocking the plant.

Yellowing, wilting eggplant leaf
Wilting and yellowing leaf

Eggplants are fierce growers, and leaves will wilt if the plants are not given enough nutrients. Ensure your plants are given a balanced fertilizer and be prepared to give additional nitrogen as the plant develops strong branches and leaves. 

Unwanted insects, pests, and pathogens causing Verticillium or Fusarium wilt can cause leaves and entire plants to wilt. Choosing disease-resistant eggplant varieties is a popular way to eliminate the adverse effects of soil-borne pathogens. 

It is normal for the lower leaves to wilt as the plant grows and matures. 

Why Are My Eggplant Leaves Curling?

Curling leaves are often caused by irregular or erratic watering habits, leading to stress-induced curling. Regularly watering and mulching can help promote even soil moisture and eliminate leaf curl. 

Drastic temperature fluctuations, especially cold snaps, can also cause leaf curling. A warm and sheltered growing environment and the use of mulch and row covers can help promote an even soil temperature. 

Why Are My Eggplant Leaves Covered In Small Holes?

Small holes in the leaves are most likely the handiwork of flea beetles or caterpillars. These tiny chewers can quickly leave your foliage looking like Swiss cheese. 

Use row covers, introduce natural predators, or apply targeted organic sprays to control flea beetles and caterpillars. 

Beneficial insects fight pests
Beneficial insects come in many shapes and forms

And remember, a healthy ecosystem in your garden can help to balance these populations naturally.

Why Are My Eggplant Leaves Turning Black?

Leaves turning black can be caused by fungal infections like early blight or bacterial spots. 

Here your best defense is prevention by adhering to proper gardening practices like adequate spacing, proper pruning, and promoting good air circulation.

Also, always remove and destroy affected leaves immediately. Targeted organic treatments can also help control the spread.

How Do I Prevent Brown Spots On Eggplant Foliage?

To prevent brown spots on eggplant foliage, it is essential to maintain good drainage and avoid overwatering. Additionally, proper spacing between plants, ensuring adequate airflow, and practicing crop rotation can help reduce the risk of fungal diseases and brown spots.

What Should I Do If My Eggplant Stems Turn Brown?

When eggplant stems turn brown, it is most likely due to overwatering or poor drainage, but it could also be due to a fungal infection. First, ensure that the soil is well-draining and avoid overwatering. If the problem persists, treat the affected plant with a suitable fungicide and consider planting resistant varieties next season.

Can I Eat Eggplant Leaves?

It depends on who you ask. The leaves contain solanine [1], which can be harmful if consumed – at least if you consume too much.

Pests come in all colors
Pests come in all colors

To stay safe, I would never eat leaves of any nightshade family plants, including potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. 

Are Eggplant Leaves Dangerous?

The leaves pose no major threat but contain naturally occurring compounds that can cause discomfort or worse if consumed.

As stated, like for potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers, focus on the fruit or root and feed the leaves to your compost.

What Can Cause Eggplant Flowers To Wilt?

Eggplant flowers can wilt due to inadequate pollination, high temperatures, or verticillium wilt.

To help pollinate your flowers, brush them gently with a soft brush. Providing adequate water and shade during peak heat periods can also prevent wilting.

If you suspect verticillium wilt, consider crop rotation and selecting resistant varieties next season.

Helpful sources:


Mattias Magnusson: Hello, I'm Mattias, a passionate and experienced gardening enthusiast. I am the creator of, your guide to year-round herb and veggie growing. Let's simplify green living, no matter your space or location.