Pineapple or Ananas comosus is one of the tropical fruits grows on a plant that is usually 1 to 1.5 meters tall or taller. It has a stock stem with thick and waxy leaves. The pineapple fruit got its name because of its resemblance to the pinecone. In fact, the pineapple fruit is formed from hundreds of individual berries that fuse together.
Not only pineapples are a fresh addition to your recipes, but the exotic plant can also be a center of attention in your garden. However, you may want to take a look at the plant’s origin to know what climate is best before learning how to grow a pineapple at home.
1. The Pineapple Plant
Pineapple plant is a herbaceous plant that can live more than two years. The fruit consisted of hundreds of berries that is formed from flowers. Each plant usually has up to 30 long narrow leaves which have sharp spines and arranged spirally.
Between the slips of the leaves and the fruit, there are side shoots that are casually known as suckers. These suckers form a cone-like shape where the flowers will bloom. The function is to keep more water to feed the fruit. This, in fact, makes the fruit rich in water and nutrients.
In one cycle, a pineapple bush can produce one pineapple in every 12 to 24 months depending on the starter. Although each plant will only produce one fruit each cycle, you can always take the crown, slips, or suckers to regrow the plant and get another pineapple.
If you start growing a pineapple tree using the tops or the crown of the pineapple, it may take two months to wait for the roots to grow—expecting fruit to be harvested 24 months later.
While the slips that are being regrown will produce fruit within a year, you can also grow the suckers which will take 18 months to fruit. The more sunlight you have, the sweeter and the sooner you can harvest the pineapple.
In its natural habitat, pineapple is being pollinated by the help of hummingbirds. In a homegrown garden, the pollination should be done manually by hand. Later, more labor should also be done in growing back the plant.
2. The Best Time to Plant Pineapple
To get a mature, sweet, and medium-sized pineapple, the plant needs to get excessive water on the suckers and at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day. Depending on the variety you choose, the best time in how to grow a pineapple is varied.
If you choose a Hawaiian pineapple, the main season to plant it is between April to May. While the Caribbean ones have two pineapple season: December through February and August through September. After the first harvest, it is possible to expect an off-season fruit which is stimulated by plant hormones like acetylene and calcium carbide.
3. Planting and Taking Care of Pineapple Plant
To get started, you need to have a ripe and organic pineapple with healthy green leaves. Avoid overripe fruit because it would decompose instead of growing.
If you find that the leaves come off easily, the fruit might be overripe. First, chop off the top and see if there are any grey spots on it. This could mean that the crown is habituated by scale insects. If it does have the spots, take another crown and find healthier pineapple.
Next, you have to bare the stalk on the crown you have chopped from the pineapple. To do this, remove any excessive fruit that is intact to the crown and remove the lower leaves so that you have a bare base of the crown. Do this step carefully because intact fruit and leaves will only rot the fruit once it’s planted. Dry out the crown for a couple of days before planting.
Prepare a place that is away from a direct source of wind, light, or ventilation. Fill a glass jar of water and put the crown in. Every couple of days, change the water to and expect the root to come out in around three weeks.
Once the roots appear, you can now start moving the pineapple onto a large pot or an area in your garden. Since the pineapple would not grow well if the roots are too wet, you have to mix fast-draining soil with a third of perlite. Fast-draining soil that you can use is Bromeliad and Cactus Potting Soil.
Growing pineapple in a pot is possible to do. But, you have to pick a large and steady pot because the extent of pineapple plant’s leaves can be heavy. Remember to put some draining agent before you pour down the mixed soil into the pot.
Pineapple plant care mainly consists of controlling the water and sunlight that the plant gets. The soil should be humid but not too wet to avoid rotting. After six to eight weeks, the roots should be strong enough as a plant. Tug the plant to check whether the roots are strong, and you can go on to the next step.
Gradually, the leaves on the crown will die, turn brown, and be replaced by new leaves. At this point, you should remove the dying leaves and water the plant strictly once a week. If necessary, you may move the plant to a larger pot after a year.
4. When to Decide Your Pineapples is Ready to Harvest
Notice that the flowers on the center of the pineapple plant would keep growing and changing color. Once the fruit is formed, the color will gradually change from green to golden yellow. When the fruit already has golden color halfway up, you can start harvesting the pineapple. However, the fruit may stay on the plant several months before being picked up.
5. Regrow Your Pineapple Plant
Growing a pineapple takes a rather long time, but it is worth the wait to see its development. You can also regrow the plant from the parts that you already have. As soon as you harvest the pineapple, make sure that you take care of the slips, the crown, and the suckers to start growing the plant once again.