Pineapples plants, also known as Ananas comosus, are tropical, herbaceous perennials that belong to the bromeliad family. While they are generally grown for their sweet, fleshy fruit, the plants themselves are commonly kept by gardeners as houseplants. In addition to their edible and decorative prowess, pineapple plants have also come to symbolize cordial reception and hospitality. Homes, buildings and decorative elements sometimes feature ornamental pineapple decorations in the form of carved designs, medallions, stencils, candlesticks and more.
Pineapple plants run the gamut in terms of size and can be 2 to 5 feet tall and as wide as 4 feet. All species have lanky, thick green pointed leaves and in some instances, the leaves may appear variegated with streaks of yellow, red or cream. During the seasonal bloom, self-pollinating pineapple plants produce a series of diminutive red or purple flowers. The apex portion of the plant begins to grow longer and eventually will start to produce a head, or in some instances, multiple heads. The heads will ultimately grow into a mature, edible fruit.
Climate and Culture
A tropical climate is required in order to grow pineapples outdoors. While the pineapple plant can withstand brief instances of light frost provided that it is kept covered, prolonged exposure to subpar conditions will result in stunted growth and can mean poor fruit quality. The ideal growing environment for pineapple plants is one that includes well-drained and loamy soil with a pH of 4.5 to 6.5. Quarterly supplemental nitrogen and magnesium are often added to the soil by commercial growers in order to aid in production and larger fruit size.
Pineapple plants will produce fruit for about four years. They are grown in tropical climates where they are propagated from the slips and suckers of mature plants. The slips come up below the fruit itself while suckers grow along side existing plants. Both methods are equally successful for commercial fruit production, though it is also possible to grow pineapple plants using the crown of the fruit. The latter method is time intensive and not appropriate for commercial production, however, it is popular with home gardeners who simply want to grow a houseplant.
Pineapple fruit is oblong with a tough, waxy, bracketed, interlocking outer layer. The fruit weighs at least 1 pound and typically measures up to 12 inches in length. A crown of thick, pointed green leaves adorns the top of the fruit. The fruit itself is sweet and juicy and is pale to bright yellow in color.
Pineapples as Houseplants
Pineapple plants, sometimes with a tiny pineapple fruit in the center, can often be found at garden centers and plant nurseries. It is also possible to start a pineapple plant yourself by removing the crown from the plant, removing all of the flesh and allowing it to dry out for a day or two before placing it in water to allow rooting. Once a root system is in place, the pineapple plant may be planted in potting mix and raised as a houseplant. Pineapple plants will grow quite well indoors, provided that it is provided with adequate sunlight, hydration and a reasonably warm climate free from cold and drafts.