Basic Plant Needs
The exotic pineapple, Ananas comosus, is the only edible fruiting plant in the Bromeliad family. Pineapples are native to tropical and subtropical America. They have a shallow root system and gather their nutrients through the long leaves that grow from the center, forming a rosette. The leaves gather nutrients and water from the decaying debris that is collected around the base of the plant, which feeds the plant and promotes healthy fruit growth. The plant itself grows to two to four feet tall. The pineapple is a compound fruit with between 100 to 200 flowering fruits that fuse together around the central stalk.
Best growing temperatures are between 65 to 95 degrees. If the temperature is consistently on the low end of that range the fruit that is produced will taste sour. If the temperature remains consistently on the high end of the temperature range, the fruit will be overly sweet. Pineapple growth also requires lots of sun, at least 6 to 8 hours daily and thrive best in 12 hours of light daily to grow and produce fruit. Soil content is also especially important to avoid plant rot. Pineapples grow best in well-draining, loamy soil to allow water to run off.
Depending on the area of the country where you live will determine whether you can plant your pineapple in the yard (hardiness zones 9 to 12) or as a house plant. Keep in mind, pineapples have a long growing window and when all the conditions are optimized you can expect a pineapple to grow between 18 to 28 months. Once the fruit flowers, you should expect a ripe pineapple in about 6 months. Did you know so much was involved in growing a pineapple?
How to Grow a Pineapple from a Top
When you pick out your next pineapple in the store, look for one with an attractive, green top. Depending on the country of origin and type of transportation, some pineapples may already have some rot. If the center leave in the top is easily pulled-out, then look for another pineapple. Selection of your pineapple is important.
Most pineapples sold in the United States are Smooth Cayenne Pineapples. They are bigger than most other varieties, weighing in at 4-6 pounds. They features a distinctive yellow flesh and are very juicy.
How to Prepare Your Pineapple Top
1. Cut or gently twist off leafy top.
2. Peel off the lower 1 inch of leaves. You may see some root buds.
3. Let crown dry for 3 to 5 days by leaving the pineapple top in an area with daily sun to allow the stem to heal. This helps to prevent the plant from rotting.
4. Dig a shallow hole about one inch deep and place your pineapple top in the hole. Gently firm the soil around the plant. Water the leaves and surrounding soil just enough to moisten the pineapple and your succulent is ready to start growing. The pineapple plant needs about 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. Full sun or partial shade is ideal.
If you live in a tropical part of the country, you can lightly water your plant weekly. If this is rainy season, there is no need to water but make sure the soil drains well so your pineapple plant does not get water-logged and rot. Now is the hard part – waiting patiently for your pineapple to grow.