Pineapple Plant Care: How to Grow One

Have you ever seen a fruit whose skin looks like it has several eyes and a top that looks like plant hair? If you have, you have seen a pineapple. The ananas Comosus is commonly known as the pineapple. It is an edible fruit from the family Bromeliaceae. It originated in South America and slowly spread to neighboring regions.

It is a tropical fruit filled with antioxidants and vitamins. They aid in boosting the immune system and assisting proper digestion. Although it tastes sweet, it has a very low-calorie content.

A few years ago, Hawaii was the number one producer worldwide. By 2016, other countries had joined the race. Brazil, Costa Rica, and the Philippines accounted for about one-third of the world’s production.

Here’s also an extensive guide on how to care for a pineapple plant if you’re planning on growing one.

Where do pineapples grow? Do they grow on trees?

We need to discuss their history a little to know about how they grow. Because of its popularity in Hawaii, most people would think it originated from Hawaii.

Having originated from the Americas, ¨Christopher Columbus brought the first pineapples to Spain in 1493. They were brought back from South America. 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 common for people to think that the fruit grows from a tree. They are aggregate fruit that forms from a group of flowers coming from the center of a leafy plant. Typically, a fruit consists of 100 to 200 flowers fused. 

Where are pineapples usually grown?

The method by which they 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, you can plant the head into a pot inside your house in a less tropical climate. 

How long does it take to grow a pineapple?

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 get started. However, using the head to grow a one takes significantly more time than other methods. The head itself takes about 24 months to flower, then an additional six months to mature. It means it can take as much as 30 months to get your first one.

If you want a faster way to grow the fruit, use slips or suckers, as it is a whole lot faster. If you plan to use your suckers, you will have to wait for your first head to use these offspring. You can usually find these plantlets between the leaves of fully-grown ones. It takes about 18 months for suckers to fruit and about one year for slips.

floating pineapple

Types

There are many types found in different parts of the world, each with distinct characteristics. Here are some of the most popular types.

Types to know about
QueenAbacaxiSingapore Red
Red SpanishMordilona 

Queen

Queen ones 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 varieties. 

Abacaxi

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.

Singapore Red

Pineapples whose green leaves have a reddish stripe are known as the Singapore Red pineapples. The skin appears red, and the shape is cylindrical. It is small in size. They are not prone to pests and disease, making them great for canning.

Red Spanish

They 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 is not as tender as other types.

Mordilona

Mordilona is common in Venezuela and the northeastern Andes of Colombia. They appear physically irregular and large. They’re 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 head consists of leaves that whirl around a central stem. If the fruit is healthy, the 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. It consists of several flowers that produce fruit. When these flowers are fused, they form a single pineapple fruit.

Unlike the common fruit, you cannot start one from a seed. It is self-compatible, which means the pollen cannot fertilize other plants that belong to the same variety. It is only possible to grow one through pollination if varieties of the same plant are grown closely together and flower simultaneously. It grows a fruit that does not have a seed in most cases.

The crown contains small roots, which you can plant into a pot or the ground to get a new one. The suckers and slips can grow into a plant when replanted into the ground or a pot.

There are several ways to replant the plant. It takes time to grow, but it is worth waiting for when it starts bearing fruit.

couple holding up pineapples

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 in a pot.

Planting one into a pot involves a tedious process, which you need to follow carefully. The steps below detail how to plant and put one in a pot. 

How to plant a pineapple into a pot

  1. Look for ripe, healthy fruit.

    The first step you need to take is to look for ripe, healthy fruit. Growing it depends on the type 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.

    One that has green leaves means insects and diseases did not attack it. Skin that appears gold in color indicates ripeness. The gold color forms from the fruit’s base and travels up. A more golden one means it is riper and sweeter. Be on the lookout for orange ones in color and have a weird smell. They are not the best for replanting.

    If insects are an issue, you can look into a solution like Bonide.bonide insect killer

  2. Carefully detach the top.

    When you have a ripe pineapple, the second step is to detach the head from the base carefully. To do this, firmly hold the top and twist it. The top should detach from the fruit without a problem. You should see a small portion of the fruit when you look at it. It indicates a properly detached head. An important note is that you should immediately consume the fruit.

  3. Gently remove the head’s lower leaves.

    The third step in planting it 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 to peel off the leaves properly.

  4. Dry the head.

    Dry the head for about one to two days, depending on how hot the temperature is. To do this, lay it on its side.

  5. Root the head in the water.

    Once the head is dry, you can place it in a jar that contains 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. You might notice the leaves start drying and turning brown during this time, 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 one. After a week of submerging the head in water, roots will start to form. Three weeks after, the roots are long enough to plant.

  6. Plant the head in a potting mix.

    The roots will be about three inches or more long a month after. By this time, the head is ready. They need a huge amount of space for their roots to spread freely. Choose a big pot that has a lot of room for the roots.
    After planting the head, you need to keep it away from sunlight for 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 are now long enough. Signs of new leaves should come from the middle of the plant.root seeding soil

  7. Harvest and repeat the process.

    Once a new one is fully established, harvest it and repeat the entire process.

Directly into the ground

Planting one directly into the ground is easy and almost maintenance-free. The steps below detail how to plant and grow it in the ground.

Look for a pineapple.

As mentioned before, you need one to grow a new one. Obtain one from the usual places you can get one, such as the farmers market or a supermarket.

A healthy and ripe pineapple would mean having a higher chance of producing healthy fruit.

Cut the head

Cut the head off. When doing this, make sure about one to two inches of the meat is cut. It is best to consume the rest of the meat as soon as possible.

Fiskar pruner

Look for a place to put the head.

The head and the one to two inches of meat from the previous step are all you need for entirely new fruit. There is nothing much you need to do when directly planting the head into the ground.

Since it is a tropical fruit, it thrives in a warm climate. If you live in a tropical place, put it directly into the ground. If you live in a location with extreme winter weather, plant it in a pot instead.

When picking a place to put it, make sure there is much room for the roots to grow and spread. It 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 will plant it, dig a hole into the ground. Dig a deep hole to bury the fruit attached to the leaves. Put it in the hole and cover it with soil. Be sure the leaves are exposed.

Water the plant, then forget.

Water the head after burying it in the ground. You can forget about it for a while as they are low-maintenance plants. Water them a few times a week.

Unlike other fruits, this one grows slowly. It usually takes about a year to notice much and about two to three years to produce fruit. It forms its fruit from the center as a bright yellow and red flower. Through time, the flower slowly transforms into a pineapple.

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Plant Care

The pineapple thrives in a tropical environment, which means its natural habitat is dry and well-drained.

  • Exposure to light

Ones 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. It is best to position it indoors in a south-facing location when putting it indoors.

  • Temperature

They are tropical fruits, which means they thrive in warm climates. The ideal temperature for them is between 71 and 82 degrees Celsius.

Bearing of fruit and replanting plantlets

They can only bear one fruit in their 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 to grow and become juicy, sweet fruit.

  • Watering

They do not require frequent watering. Aside from absorbing water through its roots, they can also absorb water through their leaves. Wait until the soil dries out completely before watering. It is better to underwater it than overwatering it.

How do you know when it is ripe?

a cut up pineapple

There are a few things to consider when picking 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 and smell. The texture will also change. Here are a few things to consider.

  • Squeeze the fruit a little

The shell of a ripe one is firm but gives in a little when you squeeze it. It is likely not fully ripe if you squeeze it, and it is still too firm. 

  • Look at the color

Ones with vibrant green leaves and green-yellow skin indicate fresh and ripe. As it ripens, it gradually changes color. Its skin will get a green-yellow hue. The ripening stops as soon as you harvest it. It is still possible for a green one to be ripe inside. It makes it important to check other factors when picking the right one. 

  • Check the smell

Smelling is a great way to know if it is ripe or not. Check the smell near its base. If there is a strong and sweet smell, it is likely ripe. If you do not smell anything, it may not be completely ripe. Give it a little more time. If the base smells bad, it is an indication that it is overripe. 

  • Gently pull the fronds.

Gently pulling the fronds 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 are an indication it is ripe, while fronds that do not pull out easily are an indication the fruit is not fully ripe. 

  • Assess the 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 indicates it is not fully ripe. The weight plays a huge factor in determining its ripeness. More juice in the meat indicates ripeness, which affects its weight. 

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man holding pineapple in funny picture

When are they in season?

They are readily available in supermarkets all year round, but the peak season varies per location. The main peak season is from April to May of each year for those in Hawaii. In Costa Rica and Brazil, fruit is from December to February of the next year and August to September. 

How to pick it?

Before you pick it, ensure that it is ripe. One 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. A kitchen knife is best. 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 and gloves. It will protect your body from spiky heads. The spiky leaves of the head could wound you, so watch out for these.

If you are growing them 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 for choosing the right gauge wire. If you want to get inspiration inside your home, consider this article on adding a shower to a half bath.

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