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How to grow pineapples at home

If you have been wanting to learn how to grow pineapples at home, I’d say go do it because it is a highly rewarding experience. All you need is a bit of patience, since it can take around 15 months or more to yield fruit, depending on where you live.

Belonging to the Bromeliaceae family, which includes Tillandsia or air plants, the pineapple is a ground-level shrub which grows to around one metre high. The fruit is a result of the merging of 100 to 200 small florets that, once fertilised, produce individual fruits and swell. This results in a unified fruit when matured. A fully ripe pineapple typically weighs around 2kg or more, although this varies by species.

Photosynthesis for the pineapple takes place at night. The plant possesses Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM), an adaptation that enhances water utilisation efficiency and is commonly observed in plants that thrive in dry environments. These include cacti, orchids and terrestrial bromeliads.

how many pineapples grow on one plant
Image by Rushay Booysen

How to Grow Pineapples

The pineapple is a hardy, perennial, tropical plant that is easy to grow. It originated from South America and was introduced by the Spanish to Europe and Asia. There are several varieties that exist, including Smooth Cayenne, Singapore Spanish, MD-2 and Tropical Gold.

Before I get into the growing part, I will answer some frequently asked questions about growing pineapples.

Do Pineapples Grow in the Ground?

Pineapple plants can be grown in a container or in the ground using slips, suckers or from the crown of store bought fruit. Farms generally grow pineapples in the ground, growing them this way usually requires less maintenance.

However there are benefits of growing pineapples in containers. They can be moved around with ease, and also brought indoors before the weather gets chilly in temperate countries. Pineapple plants do not fare well in cold climates, so be sure to bring it in before first frost if you live in an area that experiences cold winters. During the day you can leave it in a sunny spot indoors.

how to grow pineapples
Photo by Milada Vigerova

How Many Pineapples Grow on One Plant?

Only one pineapple grows on one plant at one time, however each plant can send out a ratoon sucker and continue to produce pineapples in the same spot. On pineapple farms, a technique that is practiced is ratoon cropping, where much of the plant above ground is removed, leaving a stubble for the plant to continue producing from.

How Long Do Pineapples Take to Grow?

If you live in the tropics, and depending on the variety you grow, it can be as soon as 11 months if you are planting with slips or suckers. If you live in a colder region, it can take 2 to 3 years.

When grown from the crown, it will take longer than if grown from a sucker. It took me 17 months before the plant entered the fruiting stage in the tropical country of Singapore. For much of the time, what you will see is vegetation and nothing seems to be happening, but once inflorescence emergence occurs, a significant amount of growth can be observed with each passing day.  

How to Grow Pineapples from Tops (Crown)

To grow a pineapple from tops, remove the crown by cutting 1 inch below the leaves of a pineapple. Peel off the lower leaves, exposing the brownish bumps and remove any remaining fruit from the crown. Let the cut edge callus over. After a few days, you can either submerge the callused end into a pot of potting mix or in water.

If you choose to place it in water, submerge roots of the pineapple in a container, immersing only the stem of the crown. Change the water every few days and you will notice roots growing over the next few weeks.

When planting pineapple crowns in a pot, place them in a well-draining soil mix in a bright location for a few days to establish itself before moving it to a sunny spot.

how to root a pineapple top

How to Care for your Pineapple Plant

Once your pineapple slip, sucker or crown is ready to be planted in a pot or in-ground, you should take note of the following. Pineapple plants do not fare well in constantly moist or waterlogged soils. Such conditions typically hinder their growth and yield, while also making them more prone to root rot, potentially causing the plant to die. Also, make sure to place your plants in a sunny location to keep them happy.

Fertilise every 8 weeks with pelleted or liquid fertiliser, and with seaweed emulsion for a foliar feed a few times a year. The pineapple plant will appreciate the boost of iron, magnesium, zinc and manganese.

Once the fruit peduncle and inflorescence form, it is a sight to behold. Over the next four to six months, the fruit will be ready for harvesting. If there is a presence of civets or other wildlife that loves pineapples in your area, you may wish to harvest it before it fully ripens. Ripening can continue indoors by placing it upside down on its crown.

how to grow pineapples at home
Photo by Carlo Martin Alcordo

I hope you are now feeling confident and have all the information on how to grow pineapples at home. The satisfaction of plucking a fresh pineapple from your own garden, with its tantalising aroma and sweetness, is unmatched. So if you have ever been intrigued by the idea of cultivating this tropical fruit, take the plunge! Nature, with its rhythms and wonders, awaits your green touch.

Written with research from Singapore Infopedia, The Star, University of Florida, Prepp and Wikipedia.

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