Pineapples are one of my favorite summer time treats and growing my own plant is just as special! I thought I’d share a good article on how to grow your own pineapple plant. I’ve copied most of the original article below but you can find it in full, here. My pineapple tops have yet to give me any fruit but as the article says, “persistence pays.” And you know what, my healthy green plant is pretty neat, fruit or not. So go ahead and try it for yourself; it’s the ultimate in reuse and being eco-friendly!
The pineapple belongs to the Bromeliad family and originated in tropical South America. Its Latin name is Ananas comosus. It is related to the bromeliads grown as ornamentals and also to Spanish moss commonly seen hanging from trees in our area.
Pineapple plants are remarkably easy to grow. The plants are tough and are not prone to insect or disease problems, although they do have to be handled properly in winter.
Producing a pineapple fruit does require some patience, however. Generally, from the time you start your plant to the time you harvest a ripe fruit takes about two years. During that time, though, it is an attractive foliage plant. Late spring or early summer is an ideal time to get started.
To grow your own pineapple, start with a pineapple purchased at the supermarket. Choose one that has a healthy, green leafy top (crown) not too badly battered during processing and shipping.
To root the top, you will need a one-gallon size container, enough potting soil to fill it, slow-release fertilizer and a sharp knife and pruning shears.
First of all, cut the crown from the fruit. Make the cut cleanly as close to the fruit as you can. Next, remove enough of the lower leaves from the cut crown to expose about three-quarters of an inch of stem. Lay the crown aside for three days to allow the cut to callus over.
Fill the gallon container almost full with the potting soil and add the slow-release fertilizer per label directions. Plant the top just deep enough to cover the exposed stem, firming the soil around it to make it stable. If necessary, you can insert two or three pencils into the soil on the sides of the top to hold it in place. Water the plant thoroughly and place it in a shady area outside to root (if you do this in winter, place the pot in a brightly lit window; move it outside in spring). The crown should root in a couple of weeks.
After the crown is rooted, move the plant into a spot with morning sun and afternoon shade for a week, and then finally into full sun. Grow your pineapple in full sun outside through the summer, keeping it well watered. If you did not use a slow-release fertilizer in the potting soil, feed occasionally with a balanced water soluble fertilizer.
In three to four months (around September, if you root a top now), the plant will have outgrown the gallon pot. At this time, shift it to a 3-gallon container using the same well-drained potting soil and some more slow-release fertilizer. It will produce its fruit in this pot.
The larger pot is important. If kept in a small pot, the plant will produce a smaller fruit of poorer quality.
Going into the winter, it is important to remember that the pineapple plant continues to need full sun, but that it is not able to tolerate freezing temperatures. The best way to provide these requirements is to leave your plant outside in full sun through the winter, but bring it into a protected location on those nights when temperatures are expected to dip below 40 degrees. Return the plant to full sun as soon as possible. The plant could also be overwintered in a greenhouse or sunny window.
By the second summer, the original small crown should have grown into a large, handsome plant about 2 feet across. At this stage, your plant should flower.
The first sign of flowering is a bright red color in the center of the plant. Soon, a stalk will appear with lavender flowers peeking out from a structure at the top shaped like a small pineapple. It is this structure that will develop into the fruit.
From flowering to ripe fruit takes about five months. You can generally harvest a ripe pineapple in the fall of the second year from a spring/early summer rooted crown. The fruit you get should be about the same size or a little smaller than those at the supermarket (or, if you did a great job, maybe even a little larger).
When to harvest
Deciding when to harvest the pineapple is especially important. Remember, the idea is to allow it to fully ripen on the plant. If you harvest too soon, it will not be as sweet. If you are not sure, it is better to leave the pineapple on the plant too long than to harvest it too soon.
When ripe, pineapple fruit stores fairly well on the plant. So you don’t need to be as worried about leaving it on too long as much as harvesting too early.
A pineapple fruit is ready to harvest when the background color changes from green to gold. The feel of the fruit will go from rock hard to giving a little when firmly pressed with your thumb. Also, the fruit will develop rich, fruity, pineapple smell. Use all of these signs to determine when to harvest the fruit.
The flavor of a plant-ripened pineapple has to be experienced to be believed. You are in for an exceptional treat when you eat your “Creole pineapple.”
Each plant will produce a single fruit and then die. You can, however, start new plants from the crown of the fruit you harvest, from slips that form on the flower stem, or from suckers (called pups) produced at the base of the original plant.
And after growing them once, you are sure to want to grow them again.
Original article published at NOLA.com