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Old 05-12-2002, 08:40 PM
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Default Pineapples

With Xmas coming up and a lit of pineapples being bought I thought this very
detailed guide to growing Pineapples would be of interest.

Growing Pineapples

| Planting | Feeding | Watering | Light and Temperature | Pests
and Diseases | Flowering and Fruiting |
| Harvesting | Ratooning | Other Planting
Material |

Pineapple is one of the world's most unique and exotic tropical fruits,
yet it is possible to grow it in a temperate zone under controlled
conditions. Although you may not be able to grow as large a plant as is
grown on a plantation in Hawaii, the following information should permit
you to grow a healthy, attractive pineapple for your home.

Planting a pineapple

Pineapple is grown from planting material supplied by the plant itself.
Use the crown (the leafy top) of the fruit you purchased at your grocery
store. Later, your plant will produce other planting material. (More
about this later.)

Preparing a crown

Remove the crown from your pineapple by twisting or cutting it off. Any
adhering flesh should be trimmed off its base, or it might rot after
planting. After trimming, cut the bottom of the crown (its stem) until
you see root buds, which are small round structures visible around the
perimeter of the stem base. Remove as little tissue as possible to avoid
cutting into young stem tissue. To make planting easier, you can also
strip off some of the lower leaves, exposing up to about three-fourths
of an inch of the base of the crown. The small brown-colored bumps below
the leaf scars are root primordia (the beginnings of roots) and there
may even be a few short roots at the base if the crown.

After trimming and stripping, place the crown upside down in a dry,
shaded place for about a week (5 to 7 days) before planting. This will
permit the cut end and the leaf scars to heal and prevent rot.


The easiest way to grow a pineapple is in soil. Use a good light garden
soil, mixing in up to 30 per cent well-composted organic matter. A
commercial potting soil will also work well and will assure a
disease-free potting medium.

Start your pineapple in an 8-inch porous red clay pot. Later, when it
outgrows this, transplant it to a 12-inch pot, the largest size you will
need. Plastic posts can also be used, but extra care needs to be taken
to be sure adequate drainage is provided and plants are not overwatered.

Be sure there is good drainage since pineapples do not like "wet feet."
Provide drainage by placing a curved piece of broken pot over the hole
in the bottom of the pot. Over this, add about a half an inch (1
centimetre) of coarse qravel. Then add your soil.

Tamp the soil firmly around the base of the crown at planting. Avoid
getting soil into the central leaves of the crown. It is possible to
start, and even grow your pineapple in water, but nutrients -- which can
be purchased at a gardening store --
must be added. Ask for a hydroponic fertilizer, a soluble mix that
contains all of the essential plant nutrients, and follow directions for


Fertilize at planting and every two or three months thereafter with a
good household plant food. If using a solid plant food, scatter it on
the surface of the soil and wash it in by watering.

A liquid (foliar spray) fertilizer can also be used. Pour the solution
into the base of the leaves and on the surface of the soil. Take special
care not to pour the solution into the center of the plant as the young
leaves may be injured. Follow directions under "small shrubs" given on
the label of the products you use.


The pineapple plant is miserly with water, requiring only about 20
inches of natural rainfall per year, if well distributed. You need only
wet the soil once a week, and when plants are indoors, it is best to
apply all the water to the soil.

Light and temperature

Pineapple is a tropical plant and frost or freezing temperatures will
kill it. If you live in a temperate climate, your pineapple must divide
its time between your house and your porch or garden.

During summer, set your plant on a sunny porch or bury the pot in your
garden. Do not take your plant out of the house until all danger of
frost is past. When you first remove your plant from your house, keep it
in a semi-shaded spot for several days to prevent sunburn.

During cold months, keep your plant in the house. Bring it in early in
the fall. Place it near a window or sliding-glass door for maximum
sunlight. At night, move it away from the window to prevent freezing.
If the room is warm enough for you to be comfortable, the pineapple will
be at the right temperature.

You can also grow your plant indoors, for example in a basement, by
using "Plant-Gro" fluorescent light tubes This light can also be
helpful if your windows do not let enough sunshine into the room where
you are keepinq your plant. You should keep the light on for between 12
and 14 hours per day. When the plant gets large enough to bear a fruit
(see Flowering and Fruiting below), you should reduce the daylength to
10 to 11 hours until the inflorescence appears in the center of the
plant. You can then return to longer days.

Pests and diseases

As house plants, your pineapple will be subject to a minimum of pests
and diseases if qiven proper care. The pests most likely to attack your
plant are mealybugs, scale and mites. All can be removed by washing the
leaves with soapy water, rinsing after with clear water. Or, spray with
an insecticide. Be sure to follow the directions on the label when
using insecticides.

The only disease you will likely encounter will be heart rot caused by
fungi. In heart rot, the central leaves turn black and are easily
pulled out of the plant. When heart rot occurs, the plant can sometimes
be saved by pouring a fungicide into the heart (center) of the plant.
If this stops the infection, a side shoot will start growing. This
shoot will then become your plant and will eventually flower and form a
fruit. Or you can remove it and begin a new plant (see "Other planting

For good insecticides and fungicides, talk to your nurseryman or visit
your local garden store.

Flowering and fruiting

Although the pineapple plant is attractive in itself, most growers want
their plants to flower and fruit. In Hawaii, a crown takes about 20
months to produce a ripe fruit. It may take your plant that long, or

When your plant is at least 24 inches (60 to 70 centimeters) tall and
12 to 14 months old, an inflorescence bud will begin to form in the
center of the leaves. You will not be able to see the developing fruit
until about two months later when a bright red cone emerges. Flower
development in Hawaii typically occurs in late December or January when
the days are short (about 10.5 hours) and the nights are cool (55 to 65
F; about 13 to 18 C).

Later, flowers -- light blue in color -open row by row over a period of
about two weeks, starting from the bottom. When the petals of the last
flower have dried, the fruit begins to develop. If your pineapple plant
is at least 24 inches tall and has not flowered by the time it is 20 to
24 months old, you can "force" it with an inexpensive chemical.

Forcing your plant

To force your plant, place a small lump of calcium carbide about the
size of your little fingernail in the center of your plant and pour a
quarter cup of water over it. This will release acetylene gas which
will force your plant to flower. To improve your chances of success, it
is best to treat your plant in the evening after the sun goes down and
temperatures are cooler. (Calcium carbide may be obtainable at a welding
shop, garden store, pharmacy or toy store.)

You can also 'force' a plant by enclosing it completely in a
polyethylene bag together with two ripe apples for one week. The
ethylene gas released from the ripe apples will do the trick.

Harvesting your pineapple

When your fruit is about six months old, about four months after
flowering has occurred, changes begin to occur. The color of the shell
changes from green to rich gold. The color change of the shell occurs
first at the bottom of the fruit and moves upwards. During this change,
the fruit becomes sweeter and the color of the flesh changes from white
to yellow. The fruit will weigh from two to four pounds.

When the fruit is golden half way up it can be picked and eaten. You can
wait longer if you wish.

Producing a second or ratoon fruit

Either during or after the fruit on the mother plant has ripened, one or
more shoots, they are called suckers by pineapple growers, will grow
from the mother-plant stem. If you want your original plant to produce
another fruit, leave one or at most two of the shoots on the plant to
produce a second or ratoon fruit. Excess shoots can be cut off and
potted (See Other
planting material). Continue to feed and water your plant as you did
when it was first planted. In Hawaii, it takes about one additional
year to produce a first ratoon fruit. If the plant remains healthy, it
may even be possible to produce a third crop, called a second ratoon.

Other planting material

After the fruit is picked, branches on the main stem of the plant --
called shoots -- and sometimes on the stem just below the fruit --
called slips --can be removed and used for planting material. After
these branches are about 12 inches long, you can cut or break them off
close to the stem. Many of the varieties now being grown produce few or
no slips, so do not be concerned if your plant doesn't produce slips.

Prepare and grow your slips and shoots in the same manner you did your
crown. In the case of slips, there may be a small knob at their base.
This should be cut off. Because they are larger, slips and shoots will
produce a fruit in less time than to takes for a crown. It is best to
use plant size as a guide in determining the best time to force
flowering. Slips and shoots grow most rapidly while attached to the
mother plant, so it is best to let them grow for several months after
the fruit is removed.

Prepared by the "Pineapple Research Institute of Hawaii", which closed
in 1972. Slightly "revised" on 6/5/2000. If you are interested in a
personal experience, see Rombough, L.J. 1995. A passon for pineapple.
Indoor & Patio Gardening, Jan. issue, pp. 56-59

David Hill
Abacus Nurseries

  #2   Report Post  
Old 06-12-2002, 01:13 PM
Posts: n/a
Default Pineapples

"david" wrote in message
With Xmas coming up and a lit of pineapples being bought I thought this

detailed guide to growing Pineapples would be of interest.

Growing Pineapples

| Planting | Feeding | Watering | Light and Temperature | Pests
and Diseases | Flowering and Fruiting |
| Harvesting | Ratooning | Other Planting

enormous snip
David Hill
Abacus Nurseries

That's a very useful guide, many thanks. My own pineapple is now approaching
three years old and is still growing, if somewhat slowly, still I am as ever
optomistic about my chances. I just have to build myself a larger pineapple
house in the spring since it's almost outgrown it's winter home already.


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