Do you love the delicious sweet taste of pineapples? Have you ever wondered if it was possible to grow your own pineapples? Unless you live in a tropical climate, you probably figured it can’t be done. You were wrong. You can absolutely grow your own pineapples at home. It takes quite awhile to get flourishing fruit, but if you have patience and determination, you can make it happen. You may love the taste of pineapples and you may be anxious to start growing your own, but you should first know a little bit about pineapples. Pineapples are also known as bromeliads. They are a relative to Spanish moss and other types of colorful houseplants. Pineapples, like other bromeliads, can absorb nutrients and water through their leaves and their roots.
A fully grown pineapple plant will grow to be several feet wide and tall and will take about a year to grow to this size. A plant of this size will require at least a five gallon pot to grow in efficiently. During the warmer months of the year, you can move the pineapple plant outside, so it can absorb as much sunlight as possible. You will want to make sure to move it back inside before the weather gets cold because pineapple plants cannot tolerate cold temperatures.
How to Root a Pineapple Crown
There are a few steps you will need to follow to get your pineapple plant growing. In order to grow a pineapple plant, you’ll need to first buy a pineapple that is ripe and has healthy green leaves on top. If the pineapple doesn’t look ripe or the leaves look withered or unhealthy, skip that one and move on to find a ripe and healthy one.
Once you got your ripe and healthy pineapple, cut off the top of the pineapple very close to the crown using a good sharp knife. Remove the rind and any fruit still attached to the crown. If you leave behind any fruit or rind, it will begin to rot and that is something you don’t want to happen. The next thing you’ll want to do is to cut thin slices in the stalk until you see brown dots in the shape of a ring. These are called the root primordia. They are the unformed roots that you will grow.
Then remove the leaves from the bottom of the stalk leaving an inch of bare stalk exposed. Set the pineapple crown to the side for two or three days so the stalk can dry out. This step is very important because pineapples can and will rot if the cut end of the stalk is not completely dry.
Plant the Pineapple Stalk
To plant the pineapple stalk, you can use any kind of flower pot. But it’s best to use one made with clay. Fill the pot with a potting soil that is a mixture of fast draining and light materials such as potting mix for cactus or a mix that is a combination of perlite, sand and peat. Before you plant the pineapple, you can use rooting hormone on the end, though this is not necessary for growth. Place the crown into a hole in the soil that is about an inch deep and then gently but firmly pack the soil in around it.
Using a spray bottle, lightly spray water to the pineapple stalk until the soil is moist. Place the plant nearby a window where it will get efficient natural sunlight and water it when it gets dry. Don’t over water it. The soil just needs to be moist. In fact, if you want to make sure you don’t over water it, you can put it in a terrarium or in a plastic bag that is lightly sealed so it can recycle its own water.
Now you have to wait for rooting to take place. Here is where your patience will come into play. It will take anywhere between one and three months for rooting to take place. You can test to see what the progress of the rooting process is by gently pulling on the crown to see if it will hold in the soil or if it moves around a lot. Don’t pull too hard or you will break the roots.
When the pineapple has become rooted firmly, new leaves will start to grow from the center. It is at this point that you should move the plant into a bigger pot that is at least about 10 to 12 inches. Don’t forget to use a fast draining rich potting mix. The plant will remain in this pot for about a year before you should move it into the five gallon pot.
Caring for the Pineapple Plant
It is necessary to keep the plant in an area that gets a lot of sunlight each day. A little bit of shade is fine if there is plenty of light. Pineapple plants don’t do well in cold freezing temperatures. During the cold months of the year, place the plant indoors where it will stay warm and get plenty of sun during the day. Pineapple plants grow faster during the warmer months and then growth slows when the days become shorter in the winter.
If you want your pineapple plant to thrive, water it regularly as needed but don’t overwater it. You can also use a regular strength organic fertilizer once a month. If you make sure the soil stays lightly moist and doesn’t become waterlogged or bone dry, then your pineapple plant should grow without issues.
It may take two to three years before your plant blooms or produces fruit, so patience is of the essence. If it hasn’t started blooming after this time has passed, you can induce blooming. To do this you’ll need to expose it to ethylene gas by placing the plant in plastic and putting some overripe apples in with it for three or four weeks during the winter. The apples will decompose and produce ethylene gas which will stimulate the plant to start flowering.
After it begins flowering, it’ll take yet another few months to start producing fruit. If your plant is smaller, it will produce smaller fruit. The pineapples will be ready to pick when they are golden yellow and evenly ripe. The pineapples your plant produces can then be rooted to make new plants. When you pick the fruit, pay attention to the base of the pineapples for small shoots. Leave those shoots there to grow when you harvest your pineapples. Then they can be removed carefully and placed in their own pots to grow.
Fast Facts on Pineapples
- Pineapples originate from South America.
- Pineapple plants can live and fruit up to 50 years in the wild.
- Pineapples take about 18-20 months to become ready to harvest.
- Pineapples contain the bromelain enzyme which can break down proteins, so you can use them to tenderize meat.
- A pineapple plant can only produce one pineapple at a time.
- Cloning is the most popular method to grow new pineapple plants.