Pineapple plant fruiting
image by Photo by Fimb/flickr.com
Pineapple can be grown quite successfully in the home garden in most areas. In tropical and subtropical climates it can be grown outdoors. In colder climates it is best grown in a container and brought indoors during the winter.
It takes two years for a plant to mature and produce fruit. The plant grows from the crown of a pineapple fruit. Seeds are rarely produced, so most plants are grown this way.
Cut off the crown of the pineapple, including the leafy top, and about an inch of the pineapple flesh. Set it on its side for up to a week to dry a little and allow the leaf scars to harden before planting.
Choose a sunny location with a well-drained soil for your plant. In colder climates choose an 8-inch or larger pot with a loose sandy soil and good drainage. Blend in about 1/3 organic compost.
Plant the pineapple crown in the ground or a pot, just covering the pineapple fruit with soil. Avoid getting soil on the leaves or crown.
Water the plant daily to keep it moist for the first two weeks while the roots are developing, then spread out the watering gradually so that the plant depends mainly on natural rainwater. Water potted plants weekly.
Fertilize the pineapple plant every two to three months with a good liquid plant food.
Move the plant indoors to a bright, sunny location during the winter in colder climates. Pineapple is hardy enough to withstand mild freezes but cannot survive sustained freezing weather. Move the plant back outdoors during the warm summer months.
Allow the plant to mature for about two years before expecting fruit. A well-cared-for plant will flower after about two years. You can force a potted plant to flower by moving the pot to a shady location and placing the plant in a clear plastic bag with an apple. The ethylene gas given off by the apple will force the plant to bloom. Leave the plant in the bag with the apple for three to four days, then remove it and return the plant to its sunny location. It will take a few months for flowers to appear. First a red cone will appear, then blue flowers that will develop into a small fruit.
Allow the pineapple to ripen on the plant. When ripe the pineapple will turn yellow and have a wonderful fragrance. You may wish to protect the plant with a wire cage as it ripens; squirrels love pineapple and may beat you to the fruit.
Save the crown if you want to start a new plant. The old plant will die away, but a new plant may grow from the roots.