The pineapple is probably the best known of all tropical fruits. It’s a member of the bromeliad family--exotic ornamental plants that are either terrestrial or epiphytic. Terrestrial bromeliads absorb nutrients through their leaves. Epiphyte species get whatever they need from the air around them. The pineapple differs from both. It grows and uses its roots like a normal potted or garden plant, and thrives readily as either. Compared to the maintenance required by other fruiting plants, your pineapple is easy.
Choose a 12-inch clay pot for the shallow-rooted pineapple plant. Clay pots provide the best drainage. The weighty container will help offset the top-heavy habit as this plant grows and becomes bulky. Cover the drain holes in the bottom of the pot with a piece of plastic screening and pour in about an inch of coarse gravel. This will ensure adequate drainage for your pineapple plant.
Mix equal parts rich, sandy loam and organic compost. A pH range of about 4.5 to 6.5 is preferred. Plant the pineapple at the same depth that it occupied in its growing container.
Water the pineapple plant just enough to uniformly moisten the soil. Never let it completely dry out, but don’t allow it to have wet feet, either. Continue watering about once weekly during the growing season. Spray the leaves with water to fill the little cups, or leaf axils, at the bottom of the plant when you water the soil.
Feed a balanced water-soluble liquid fertilizer for small shrubs once monthly throughout the growing season.
Set the pineapple outside in direct sun if all danger of frost has passed for your area. Freezing will kill it. This plant needs at least 6 hours of bright light each day--the more the better.
Keep the pineapple plant warm. Preferred temperature range is 65 to 75 degrees F. Bring it inside if you expect sustained temperatures to drop below 60 degrees F. This is usually around mid-September, when you begin shutting the windows and maybe even turning the heat on. Set the plant in the brightest spot in your home.
Water the plant when the soil surface feels slightly dry to the touch during the winter. Stop spraying the leaves with water until the pineapple can be put back outside in the spring. You can expect your pineapple plant to flower for you when it’s at least 2 feet tall, as early as 12 to 14 months later. A single fruit will follow shortly.