Have you ever seen a fruit whose skin looks like it has several eyes and a top that looks like a plant hair? If you have, you have seen a pineapple. The ananas comosus, commonly known as the pineapple, is an edible fruit from the family Bromeliaceae. It originated from South America and slowly spread to neighboring regions.
The pineapple is a tropical fruit filled with antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins. They aid in boosting the immune system and assisting proper digestion. Although it tastes sweet, it has very low-calorie content.
A few years ago, Hawaii was the number one producer worldwide, especially in the United States. By 2016, Brazil, Costa Rica, and the Philippines accounted for about one-third of the world’s pineapple production.
Where do pineapples grow? Do they grow on trees?
To know about how they grow, we need to discuss their history a little. Because of the popularity of pineapples in Hawaii, most people would think it originated from Hawaii.
Having originated from the Americas, specifically in South America, Christopher Columbus brought the first pineapples to Spain in 1493. In Spain, it got its name by combining the Spanish word pina and the English word apple. The Spaniards picked pina because it reminded them of a pine cone and apple because of its sweet taste.
It is a common thought for people to think that the fruit grows from a tree. They are an aggregate fruit, which forms from a group of flowers growing from the center of a leafy plant. Typically, a fruit consists of 100 to 200 flowers fused.
Where are they usually grown?
The method for which pineapples are grown greatly depends on the climate. They thrive in a tropical climate as they are tropical fruits.
When growing one in a tropical climate, you can directly plant the head into the ground. Be sure the soil where you are planting the head is conducive for living. On the other hand, when growing it in a less tropical climate, you can plant the head into a pot inside your house.
How long does it take to grow one?
Growing one using its head is the easiest if you live in an area where they are already common. If you often buy them to eat, you can use its head to plant. However, using the head to grow a pineapple takes significantly more time than other methods. The head itself takes about 24 months to flower, then an additional six months to mature, meaning it can take as much as 30 months to grow one.
If you want a faster way to grow the fruit, use pineapple slips or suckers as it is a whole lot faster to grow. However, if you plan to grow your suckers, you will have to wait for your first pineapple head to grow these offspring. You can usually find these plantlets between the leaves of fully-grown pineapples. It takes about 18 months for suckers to fruit and about one year for slips.
There are so many types found in different parts of the world, each with distinct characteristics. Here are some of the most popular types.
Queen pineapples appear dark yellow and have a small core. You can find this type in South Africa and Australia.
They smell and taste extremely good. It is best to eat it fresh, as it does not can well. Queen pineapples can tolerate cold temperatures better than other pineapple varieties.
Abacaxi pineapples appear tall and spiny. They usually weigh between two to eleven pounds when fully-grown. Its nearly translucent flesh is very sweet but too delicate if you plan to use it for commercial purposes.
Pineapples whose green leaves have a reddish stripe are known as the Singapore Red pineapples. The skin appears red, the shape cylindrical, and is small in size. They are not prone to pests and disease, which makes them great for canning.
Red Spanish pineapples have orange-red skin and light-yellow flesh. They are grown in the Caribbean, which is where they are common. It contains high amounts of fiber but not as tender as other types.
Mordilona pineapples are common in Venezuela and the northeastern Andes of Colombia. Physically, they appear irregular, large, cylindrical, and have yellow-orange skin. Peeling through the skin, you will notice the flesh is cream in color and is very sweet.
How do they grow?
The pineapple’s head consists of leaves that whirl around a central stem. If the fruit is healthy, the thin, sharp-looking leaves can group up to 1.5 meters long. Be careful when handling its head as the leaves are quite pointy and could wound you when not handled properly.
In the central stem, the fruit grows on top of it. The pineapple fruit consists of several flowers that produce fruit. When these flowers are fused, they form a single fruit called the pineapple.
Unlike the common fruit, you cannot grow a pineapple from a seed. It is self-compatible, which means the plant’s pollen cannot fertilize other plants that belong to the same variety. It is only possible to grow a pineapple through pollination if varieties of the same plant are grown next closely together and flower simultaneously. In most cases, the plant grows a fruit that does not have a seed.
The crown contains small roots, which you can plant into a pot or the ground to grow a new plant. The pineapple’s suckers and slips can grow into a plant when replanted into the ground or a pot.
There are several ways to replant and grow a pineapple plant. It takes time to grow one, but it is worth waiting for when it starts bearing fruit.
How to plant one?
To grow the fruit, you need to have a pineapple to grow another one. There are two main ways to plant one. You can either plant it directly in the ground or a pot.
Planting it into a pot
Planting a pineapple into a pot involves a tedious process, which you need to follow carefully. The steps below detail how to plant and grow a pineapple in a pot.
- Look for a ripe, healthy pineapple
The very first step you need to take is to look for a ripe, healthy fruit. Growing it depends on the pineapple you use, so be sure to pick a healthy one.
A healthy one has green leaves that appear vibrant. These leaves should not look dull or brown. A pineapple that has green leaves mean insects and diseases did not attack it. Skin that appears gold in color indicates ripeness. The gold color starts to form from the fruit’s base and make its way up. A more golden pineapple means it is riper and sweeter. Be on the lookout for pineapples that are orange in color and have a weird smell. They are not the best for replanting.
- Carefully detach the pineapple’s top
When you have a ripe, healthy pineapple, the second step is to detach the head from the base carefully. To do this, firmly hold the top of the pineapple and twist it. The top should detach from the fruit without a problem. When you look at the fruit, you should see a small portion of the fruit. It indicates a properly detached head. An important note is that you should immediately consume the fruit.
- Gently remove the head’s lower leaves
The third step in planting a pineapple is to peel off the lower leaves of the head. Hold the head from the top portion and gently peel off several leaves from the head’s base. One to two inches of the base should not have any leaves. As you peel off the leaves, you will see brown nubs initially covered by the leaves. Roots will grow from the nubs, so be sure you peel off the leaves properly.
- Dry the head
Dry the pineapple’s head for about one to two days, depending on how hot the temperature. To do this, lay it on its side.
- Root the pineapple’s head in the water
Once the head is dry, you can place it in a jar that contains clean, warm water. Be sure only the portion of the head that does not have leaves gets in contact with water. You may want to use a mason jar when submerging the head in the water. If not available, you can use any jar or container.
You need to maintain clean water, which means you should change it every second day. Doing this keeps the water fresh and clean as often as possible. During this time, you might notice the leaves start drying and turning brown, which is normal. Some heads turn brown, while others stay green.
If the head is not growing any roots, it may dry out suddenly and die. When this happens, try another pineapple. After a week of submerging the head in water, roots will start to form. Three weeks after, the roots are long enough to plant.
- Plant the pineapple’s head in a potting mix
A month after, the roots will be about three inches or more long. By this time, the head is ready to plant. Pineapples need a huge space for their roots to spread freely. Choose a big pot that has a lot of room for the roots to grow.
After planting the head, you need to keep it away from sunlight in the next few weeks. The soil should be moist all the time but not too wet. During this time, the roots will start to crawl into the soil.
Two months after, the head should have a strong grab into the soil. It indicates the roots have grown long enough. Signs of new leaves should come from the middle of the plant.
- Harvest and repeat the process
Once a new pineapple is fully grown, harvest it, and repeat the entire process all over again.
Planting it directly into the ground
Planting a pineapple directly into the ground is easy and almost maintenance-free. The steps below detail the steps on how to plant and growing it in the ground.
Look for a pineapple
As mentioned before, you need a pineapple to grow a new one. Obtain one from the usual places you can get one, such as the farmers market, a supermarket, or a small fruit cart located at the side of the road.
A pineapple that is healthy and ripe would mean having a higher chance of producing a healthy fruit.
Cut the pineapple’s head
Cut the head off. When doing this, make sure about one to two inches of the meat gets cut too. For the rest of the meat, it is best to consume it as soon as possible.
Look for a place to plant the head
The head and the one to two inches of pineapple meat from the previous step is all you need to grow an entirely new fruit. There is nothing much you need to do when planting the pineapple’s head into the ground directly.
Since it’s is a tropical fruit, it thrives in a warm climate. If you live in a tropical place, plant it directly into the ground. However, if you live in a location with extreme winter weather, plant your fruit in a pot instead.
When picking a place to plant it, make sure there is much room for the roots to grow and spread. The plant can grow up to five feet across, so be sure to consider this when looking for a place. The leaves on the head are sharp, so put a space in between when planting them.
Plant the head
Once you have a location for where you are going to plant it, dig a hole into the ground. Dig a hole that is deep enough to bury the fruit attached to the pineapple’s leaves. Plant it in the hole and cover with soil. Be sure the leaves are exposed.
Water the plant, then forget
Water the head after burying it into the ground. You can forget about it for a while as pineapples are low-maintenance plants. Water them a few times a week.
Unlike other fruits, the plant grows slowly. It usually takes about a year to notice growth and about two to three years to produce fruit. The plant forms its fruit from the center as a bright yellow and red flower. Through time, the flower slowly transforms into a pineapple.
Pineapple Plant Care
The pineapple thrives in a tropical environment, which means their natural habitat is dry and well-drained.
- Exposure to light
Pineapples growing in the ground or a pot inside your home love direct exposure to natural light. When planting outdoors, be sure it is in a location that gets ample sunlight. When planting indoors, it is best to position it in a south-facing location.
They are tropical fruits, which means they thrive in warm climates. The ideal temperature when growing them is between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius.
Bearing of fruit and replanting plantlets
The pineapple can only bear one fruit in its lifetime. Keep the parent plant after it bears fruit. Be on the lookout for plantlets that grow in the base of the parent plant. Take good care of these plantlets as they can grow and become juicy, sweet fruit.
Pineapples do not require frequent watering. Aside from absorbing water through its roots, pineapples can also absorb water through their leaves. Wait until the soil dries out completely before watering. It is better to underwater a pineapple than overwatering it.
How do you know when it is ripe?
There are a few things to consider when picking a ripe fruit. There is much, much more to look at than its colors. To increase your chances of picking a ripe one, you need to pay attention to its weight, smell, and texture. Here are a few things to consider.
- Squeeze the fruit a little
The shell of a ripe pineapple is firm but gives in a little when you squeeze it. If you squeeze it and it is still too firm, then it is likely not fully ripe.
- Look at the color
Pineapples with vibrant green leaves and green-yellow skin indicate it is fresh and ripe. As it ripens, it gradually change color, which is why its skin has a green-yellow hue. The ripening stops as soon as you harvest it. However, it is still possible for a green pineapple to be ripe inside, making it important to check on other factors when picking the right one.
- Check the smell
Smelling a pineapple is a great way to know if it is ripe or not. Check the smell near its base. If there is a strong, sweet smell to it, the fruit is likely ripe. If you do not smell anything, it may not be completely ripe, so give it a little more time. However, if the pineapple’s base smells bad, it is an indication that it is overripe.
- Gently pull the fronds
Gently pulling the fronds of a pineapple is a quick, easy way to know if it is ripe or not. Fronds are green, large leaves found on top of a pineapple. Fronds that pull out easily is an indication the pineapple is ripe, while fronds that do not pull out easily is an indication the pineapple is not fully ripe.
- Assess the fruit’s weight
Guessing the weight is quite tricky when it is still attached to its plant. You can gently bend it to feel its weight. A heavy one indicates ripeness, while a light pineapple indicates it is not fully ripe. The weight plays a huge factor in determining its ripeness. More juice in the meat is an indication of ripeness, which affects its weight.
When are they in season?
Pineapples are readily available in supermarkets all year round, but the peak season varies per location. For pineapples in Hawaii, the main peak season is from April to May of each year. On the other hand, pineapples in the Caribbean, specifically in Costa Rica and Brazil, fruit from December to February of the next year and August to September.
How to pick it?
Before you pick a pineapple, ensure that it is ripe. A pineapple that is at least one-third yellow is a good indication of ripeness. To know more about picking a ripe one, refer to the “How do you know when a pineapple is ripe?” section above.
After waiting for over a year to ripen, harvesting them is probably the easiest in its life cycle. All you need is a sharp knife, preferably a kitchen knife. At the base of the fruit, locate the stalk that joins the pineapple to the plant. Gently cut the stalk until it separately completely.
Before attempting to harvest them, put on safety glasses, gloves, and some other gear to protect your body from the spiky heads. The spiky leaves of the head could wound you, so watch out for these.
If you are growing pineapples in a small area in your backyard or a huge land, you may need to supply electricity to this area. Picking the right wire is quite a task, so here is a guide on choosing the right size gauge wire. If on the other hand, you want to continue reading and getting inspiration inside your home, consider this article on adding a shower to a half bath or read this article on why your central AC may not be blowing cold air.