If you thought aubergines (Solanum melongena) are all large and purple, think again. Hailing from different parts of the world, from Taiwan to Italy, they come in a range of shapes and sizes, from egg-shaped (the original shape of aubergines) to finger-like fruits.

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They range in colour from white to red, some with stripes, as well as many shades of purple.

Find out how to grow aubergines.

With pretty flowers and eye-catching fruits, they make great ornamental plants for containers.

Here are nine unusual aubergines to grow.

1

Aubergine 'Turkish Orange'

This unusual heirloom variety from Turkey produces an abundance of small, round fruits. They turn from light green to light orange with green markings (they're best cooked at this stage) and finally bright orange (at which point they're better stuffed. A great-looking plant that works well in a container.

Round, orange 'Turkish Orange' aubergines
2

Aubergine 'Clara'

Aubergine 'Clara' is an unusual variety that crops early, bearing pure white, almost egg-shaped fruits with white flesh and an excellent flavour that works well in Mediterranean and Thai or Chinese dishes.

Pure white aubergine 'Clara'
3

Aubergine 'Pingtung Long'

Aubergine 'Pingtung Long' is an unusual variety that hails from Ping Tung in Taiwan. The thin, lavender-purple fruits are up to 30cm long and 5cm long. The plants are vigorous and disease-resistant.

Long and narrow, purple 'Pingtung Long' aubergines
4

Aubergine 'Melanzana Violetta di Firenze'

Aubergine 'Melanzana Violetta di Firenze' is a lovely Italian heirloom variety, bearing large, ribbed, oval fruits with an excellent flavour, from late-July to October.

Round, purple and white aubergine 'Melanzana Violetta di Firenze'
5

Aubergine 'Amethyst'

Aubergine 'Amethyst', as the name suggests, produces masses of amethyst-coloured, dwarf fruits. Its silvery foliage and stunning fruits look especially attractive in a pot.

Deep purple, dwarf 'Amethyst' aubergines
6

Aubergine 'Hansel'

An F1 variety, 'Hansel' can be harvested when you want it. The glossy fruits are ready as baby veg at 5cm long, but you can harvest at any time up to 25cm long. The fruits grow in clusters on compact plants - you may need to stake them to as the plants grow many fruits. Good for baking and frying.

Long and narrow, deep-purple 'Hansel' aubergines
7

Aubergine 'Fairy Tale'

Aubergine 'Fairy Tale' is a compact-variety, making it suitable for growing in containers. The violet fruits with white stripes are early to mature, and can be picked when small or left to grow larger. Great for marinating and grilling.

White striped, violet 'Fairy Tale' aubergines
8

Aubergine 'Asian Bride'

Aubergine 'Asian Bride' is a rare, compact variety, bearing finger-sized fruits which mature from creamy white to develop an attractive pink-purple blush. The white flesh is perfect for grilling and stir-frying.

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Purple-blushed, white 'Asian Bride' aubergines
9

Aubergine 'Mohican'

Aubergine 'Mohican' is an F1 hybrid with long, oval white fruits. It's a compact variety that is ideal for growing in containers.

Oval, white 'Mohican' aubergines

Aubergine growing tips

  • Aubergine plants are sensitive to cold winds and heavy rain, making them less reliable when grown outdoors. For the best results, grow in a sunny, sheltered spot or in a greenhouse.Pinch out growing tips when 30cm high to encourage branching.
  • Feed weekly with a high-potash fertiliser once plants have started to flower, and mist the fruits with water to encourage fruit set.
  • Remove fruiting sideshoots after five to six fruits have set, and pick fruits when glossy - if the skin loses its gloss, it is over-ripe. 
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