Oct 17, 2009

Grow A Pineapple

How to Grow Your Own Pineapple

It takes about a year to grow a pineapple. You need a greenhouse or
a sunny room to get the plant through the winter.

Start in early summer and buy a nice fresh pineapple with a nice green top. Cut the top off about 1 inch from the top of the fruit. Pull the remaining fruit off the top. Let the top dry for a day or more. Pull off about 1 inch of the lower leaves; you may notice a few small roots
where you tear off the leaves.

Place the plant in a 6 inch pot with a good peat-lite potting mix. (Cactus mix would be good.) The soil should be damp, but not too wet. One of the biggest mistakes people make when growing pineapple and other bromeliads is over-watering. It will take 4-6 weeks for the plant to get a good root system.

Move the plant up to a gallon size pot after about 2-3 months. Use a general purpose water soluble fertilizer on the foliage and on the soil about every 2 weeks. By fall, the plant should be ready to move to 2 gallon pot - if the roots are filling the pot. It is important not to jump too soon to a bigger pot because more soil in the pot means a longer time until the soil dries out and wet soil can lead to root rot.

Many people can grow a pineapple plant but cannot get the plant to flower and fruit. Here is the trick - use an apple to induce early flowering. Take an over-ripe apple and slice it up into 6 wedges. Place the wedges between the pineapple foliage. (Banana peels will work too.)
Cover with a bed sheet for about 5 days. Why does this work? As apples and other fruits deteriorate, they give off ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is a plant hormone. It will make plants without flowers produce flowers. But be careful. Ethylene gas will also cause plants with flowers to abort them. After the 5 days just remove the sheet and leave the apple to rot. (Yes, you may get a few fruit flies.)
Keep the plant warm all winter and stop fertilizing. Move the plant to a 3 gallon pot in early spring and start fertilizing again. Move to a sunny location. Keep an eye on the center of the plant. Soon, deep down in the center of the plant, you will notice it turning yellow or white. The pineapple flower will emerge soon. The pineapple will have purple flowers that will last about 2 weeks. As the pineapple fruit gets bigger, use 3 bamboo stakes placed around the plant to keep it from falling over.

I usually start about 10 pineapples each summer at Cypress Gardens and I get about 6-8 pineapple plants to produce fruit. Some plants have produced 2 fruit. Home grown pineapple taste great. I like to let the fruit turn yellow on the plant. The fruit is sweet and the core will be soft and edible. Good Luck, Kathy

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