Pineapples > Growing Pineapple Plants - How do Pineapples Grow

Growing Pineapple Plants - How do Pineapples Grow


How to Grow Pineapples

You can grow pineapples in almost any climate that isn't too cold, and the most difficult part of the process is getting the pineapple rooted.

At most, pineapple plants produce two fruits during their lifetime, and require ample space to do so (a fruit-bearing tree will need to be six feed tall and across), so you should carefully plan the site beforehand. Less space means a smaller fruit (or no fruit at all), and it's difficult to get the plant to bear a fruit when grown in a pot.

Choosing a pineapple

You can get your fruit from a local grocery store: you should look for healthy, green leaves (not brown), and a fruit with a brown shell (green is bad), paying attention to the base of the leaves, since they sometimes harbor scale insects that will prevent your plant from growing healthy.

Twisting and preparing the crown

Before we start I'll give you a piece of advice: you should plant more than one pineapple, since some of them are bound to die, rot, or grow not healthy enough to produce fruit. Three crowns is about right!

One of the most important steps in growing pineapple is crown preparation: grab hold of the top leaves and twist the whole group..the top should come off with a bit of stalk.

Some people prefer cutting a slice off the top of the fruit, but you will have to manually remove all the surrounding flesh, or your plant will rot and die before rooting.

Pineapple Roots
Pineapple roots in a circular pattern

After this, carefully cut small slices off the bottom of the stalk, until you can see a circular pattern of brownish dots in its outermost part (see the picture): these dots are root buds and should be handled with care!

Now strip around ten leaves off the bottom part, the purpose being to bare the stalk. You may see small roots already forming: try not to damage them.

The prepared crown should then be left to dry for a couple of days: this allows for leaf scars to heal and greatly reduces the probability of the plant rotting.

Rooting the crown

There are several ways to go about this: some people prefer planting the stalk right away, others allow for the roots to grow larger before planting. I have tried both methods and the second one definitely produces better plants with stronger, healthier roots.

Pineapple Tops
Pineapple tops in water: this allows for roots to grow stronger

You should keep the stalk in a glass of water, refreshing the water every two days, for about three weeks. The perfect place is away from direct sunlight or temperature extremes of any kind.

After about 20 days, you should see healthy roots starting to form.

Rooting the Crown

At this point, your pineapple can be planted: the best soil is a Bromeliad or Cactus Potting Soil, with a third perlite. You can also plant it in a clay pot, at least eight-inches, with bottom drainage. Some gardeners like putting two inches of stones in the bottom part of the pot, before poutting in the soil. It is recommended but not necessary.

So to summarize: pick a clay pot, layer two inches of stones on the bottom, add in the soil and a third perlite, then plant the stalk, water it thoroughly and place it where it will have plenty of sunlight exposure.

The correct amount of water will keep the soil moist (try not to make it too wet or the plant will rot). It should definitely never be dry.

Wait for about two months without fertilizing, keeping a good level of moisture and making sure the plant has access to sunlight.

At this point, the plant should have roots strong enough to support itself: you can verify this by gently tugging the top of the pineapple and checking for their presence: at this point either the roots have formed, or the plant is rotting. In case it's rotting, you should replace the pineapple top with a new one, and be more careful not to over water it.

If the plant is healthy, its old leaves will slowly start dying and turning brown, while new, green leaves start growing at the center: your next duty is to gradually remove the dying leaves over the course of a year, watering the plant once a week.

This phase will last for about a year, after which you should repot the plant.

Repotting the plant

Your healthy plant should be repotted in a twelve inch clay pot, with draining holes at the bottom, in the same type of soil we used in the beginning: be sure to use the two-inch layer of stones here, since we don't want the plant to rot after all this work!

You should pour in enough soil up to half an inch from the top, and pat it down gently. Be sure to firm it up especially around the base of the crown.

At this point, the most likely cause of failure comes from rotting, which is itself caused by either overwatering or underdrainage: be sure the drainage holes are functioning properly and only water once a week.

You should be noticing significant growth in the plant, except maybe during the cold season (winter). If the plant doesn't seem to grow, especially in summer and spring, you should examine its roots and make sure it's not rotting, possibly removing the old soil and replacing it with a fresh mix.

As the plant grows, optimum results can only be expected by planting it outside, or in an even larger pot: remember it will have to be six feet tall and across to produce large fruits!

Growing your plant

Pineapple plants are suited for tropical climates and cold will kill them: if you live in a very cold region you should consider planting it indoors, into a very large pot, and if you live in a temperate climate try to protect it from the cold winter. A good temperature is about 65 - 75 degrees F (minimum of 60 degrees), which happens to be just about right for humans (e.g. a good temperature for you is also good for your plant).

The plant should only be watered once a week, making sure the drainage is efficient, and fertilizer should be applied once a month.

Make sure it has access to sunlight for at least six hours a day, or 14 hours if you use indoor lamps.

Pests and diseases

If you followed my instructions, you plant shouldn't suffer too many diseases. The most likely pests it will encounter are scale, mites and mealy bugs, and they can all be taken care of by washing the leaves with water and soap, or by using a good insecticide.

Sometimes, plants are colonized by fungi, which cause heart rot. You can diagnose it by watching the central leases, which turn black. In this case, you can try saving the plant by pouring a fungicide into the heart of the plant. If you succeeded, a side shoot will grow and form a new plant.

Fruiting

It takes about twenty to twenty-six months to produce a ripe fruit: when the plant is twelve to fourteen months old, an inflorescence bud will begin to form in its center. The fruit will be visible only two months later, with the appearance of a bright red cone.

After about twenty months, blue flowers start opening open row by row, starting at the bottom, over a period of about two weeks (flower development in Hawaii typically occurs in late December or January when the days are short (about 10.5 hours) and the nights are cool (55 to 65 F; about 13 to 18 C)). A typical lifespan for a flower is only one day!

The fruit begins to grow after the last flower has dried: after waiting 4-5 months from now, you should see your fruit starting to ripen, beginning from the bottom.

You should harvest your pineapple when it's about half ripe: if you allowed for plenty of space for the plant's roots it should be about the size of a can.

Forcing fruiting

If your plant is still not producing fruit, there are tricks to force it: lay the plant and pot on its side between waterings, as this causes the production of ethylene, which induces flowering.

An alternative is using ethylene produced by ripe and bruised apples: place the plant in a bag with an apple for two weeks, keeping it in a shady location, and only move it back into sunlight after the two weeks have passed.

A thid alternative consists of using calcium carbide: place a small lump, the size of your fingernail, together with a quarter cup of water, in the center of the plant. You can find calcium carbide in a garden store or pharmacy.

All of these technique work best over a period of 2-3 months, after which the plant should have flowered.


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