When I think of a vacation on an island somewhere, I think of sand between my toes, the sound of waves in the background, and tropical tastes – bananas, coconut, mangoes, and pineapple. Excuse me for a moment while I go make a smoothie..
So, where were we? Ah, yes. Pineapple.
I love eating fresh pineapple, throwing it into smoothies, and making pineapple upside-down cake.
Living in Florida, we have warm weather that’s suitable for growing pineapple, as long as we remember to keep our pineapple plant warm during our cold nights. Because, yes, we have those, too. Just keep in mind, when you sign up to grow a pineapple, you’re signing up for a 2-year journey.
Today we’re going to learn how to grow pineapples. You can plant them in the ground or in pots. My personal preference is pots, which I’ll explain why later. First, let’s dive into selecting a fresh pineapple, and how to root it!
Picking Your Pineapple
When you go to your local grocery store or market, you’ll want to select a pineapple that is not only going to taste good, but also one that will be good for growing. You’ll want to select an organic pineapple where the leaves look healthy, firm, and green. Try to avoid any with yellow or brown leaves. You’ll want to select a pineapple that has golden brown skin. You can do a test by trying to pull one of the center leaves. If it comes out easily, it’s overripe, and I don’t recommend using it to grow.
You can also check the base of the leaves for small grayish spots (scale insects). If you see those, kindly set the pineapple down and pick up another 🙂
Rooting Your Pineapple
Before you start slicing up your pineapple to eat, you’ll want to remove the top of the pineapple with the leaves (the crown). You can do this by grabbing the top of the pineapple and giving it a good twist. You can also cut the top off, but twisting it will help remove any excess fruit flesh that can cause your pineapple plant to rot if left on. If you decide to cut it, make sure you also cut off any fruit flesh.
Once you’ve done that you’ll want to pull off some of the bottom leaves. Try to have an inch of the base of the crown without leaves.
Next, you’ll want to carefully make thin slices (I’m talking the thickness of a knife) horizontal to the bottom of the crown until you see a ring of brownish dots at the bottom. These are the root buds. You want to be able to see these, but not cut off any more of the plant than necessary to expose them.
After cutting you’ll want the base to dry. This will help the leaf scars to heal and prevent rotting. You can do this for a couple days. I actually left mine outside in some Florida summer sunshine for a day and that worked for me. It seemed to dry out the bottom nicely.
Once the bottom is dry, you’ll want to put your pineapple crown in some water. I used a glass jar and filled it up so only about a 1/2 – 1 inch of the pineapple crown was soaking in water.
Place your pineapple somewhere inside where it will get some sunshine, and make sure to replace the water every couple days to prevent mold. In about 2 weeks you should have your roots. They should be 2-3 inches long before you transplant your pineapple plant.
Transplanting Your Pineapple
Find a pot that is 6-8inches in diameter to plant your pineapple in at first. You may want to select a pot that is made out of clay and has a drainage hole. This will help prevent your pineapple from getting water-logged. You’ll want some fast-draining potting soil, like a cactus mix. You can also make your own mixture that contains sand and perlite. Plant your pineapple about an inch or two deep, and pack in the soil around it. Keep the soil moist, but not super wet. You can keep your pineapple inside or outside. Just make sure it’s somewhere where it’s getting at least 6 hours of sunlight.
It can take 1-3 months for your pineapple to grow new roots. Once it does it will start to get new leaves. So don’t worry if it doesn’t look like your pineapple is growing at first. After a couple months, if you want, you can lightly tug on your pineapple plant GENTLY to see if it has new roots. If you’re met with some resistance then you’ll know that new roots have started to form. If you rip your pineapple out of the ground you’ll have to start over. Don’t do that. I’ll say it once more for good measure. GENTLY. OR just skip this part. You don’t need to know when new leaves are coming. When you see new leaves, you have new leaves 🙂 Let’s move on.
Once your plant has new roots it will start to grow new leaves in the center. This is when you can transplant your pineapple plant into a 10-12” pot. Remember to use a well-draining potting mix and a pot with good drainage. The original leaves will begin to die the first year and you can remove them when this happens.
Wherever you decide to keep your plant, make sure it has about 3 feet on every side for it to have room to grow.
After a year you can move your pineapple plant into a 5-7 gallon pot for its final home and just wait for your pineapples to grow!
Growing Conditions and Caring for Your Pineapple
Location, location, location.
Pineapples are a tropical plant, so they prefer warm weather and at least 6 hours of sun a day. Temperatures below 60 or above 90 degrees F can slow plant growth down. They also don’t tolerate freezing temperatures. For this reason, and my very clay-like soil that gets super soggy during the summertime, I like to keep my pineapple plant in a pot. This helps with drainage and allows me to move my plant indoors when we have cold weather.
Because they’re slow growing, and their ideal temperature is between 68-85 degrees F, they actually make a good houseplant at the beginning.
As you hopefully have already gathered from earlier sections, pineapple plants don’t like being over-saturated with water. But, you don’t want the soil to dry out completely either. I’ve read recommendations for watering them once a week. You can use that as a guide and just check on your pineapple plant to see when the soil starts to dry out and needs more water.
Harvesting Your Pineapple
It can take a couple of years before you get a pineapple. Once you start to see a pinecone-shaped bud forming in the center of your plant it will take about 6 more months before it’s ripe. Be aware of critters who want to eat your fruit before you do. You may want to build some sort of cage to put around it. Or you could bring it inside. Or, ideally, keep it on a screened in porch. The fruit should be about 90% yellow and smell sweet when it’s ready.
After you harvest your pineapple, keep your pineapple plant growing. At this time it may get some new shoots towards the base of the plant that can turn into another pineapple. Also, any shoots that show up towards the top where you harvested your pineapple can be cut and replanted using the same steps already discussed here. I hope you now know how to grow pineapples, and that you’ll try to grow your own the next time you get a pineapple.
Have you ever grown pineapple or enjoy growing other tropical fruit? Comment below your experiences!