Today's Gardener (todaysgardener.com) participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.
Next time you decide to throw your pineapple top away, think twice! You can actually grow a whole new plant out of it.
Here is a short summary on pineapple plant care: the care of all the pineapple plants is the same (be it ornamental or edible). Either chop the top with a bit of fruit, or divide the roots of a “mother” plant, or cut off the side shoots of a pineapple, and plant it into a well-drained soil mixture while making sure your pot has a proper drainage. Water it once a week, as it’s a drought-resistant tropical plant. It likes high humidity, so make sure you humidify the air somehow (humidifier, often misting, etc). It loves sun and temperatures between 65ºF and 80ºF. After a few years, make sure to repot the plant into a slightly bigger pot.
This was a short summary of taking care of pineapple plants, but if you want to learn much more and check more in-depth tips, stay with me!
What are Pineapple Plants?
First things first! You might wonder if this guide is about some ornamental plant or just a regular pineapple plant that you buy in the market and that’s actually edible. Well, all the plants from pineapple plants family come from one species, which is Ananas comosus. Therefore, caring for all of these is pretty much the same, be it edible or ornamental.
Before we see how to grow them, let us first get to know something about these little fellas (a bit of science, duh).
The Pineapple plants, or known by their scientific name as Ananas comosus belong to the Bromeliaceae family and the Bromelioideae subfamily.
They are native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. Pineapple trees can grow to usual 3-5 feet, while their ornamental sisters can grow to about 2 feet in height and 4 feet in width.
The green leaves are sort of sword-shaped and sharp and they are held in a dense rosette. The fruit itself is held in the center on a sturdy stalk and it can be pink or green in color depending on the species.
Pineapples have a pink pigment called lycopene, the same pigment that makes watermelons and tomatoes red.
Side note: Although all these pineapples look appetizing, they are not all for human consumption because some do not retain as much water as a regular pineapple and they taste bland.
Let’s dive into guide that will make your pineapple plants thrive!
Pineapple Plant Care
When planting an ornamental pineapple, you have two options:
- Digging a hole and planting it in your garden ideally in a semi-shaded area (if you crave for a fresh fruit, you’ll have to find some space for a 5 feet tree).
- Planting it in a pot, starting with a small one, about 6″, and re-potting it in larger ones after several years.
Growing the plant in the garden might expose it to plant parasites and rough weather condition so it’s not so ideal. The second option, growing the plant in a pot or a container is, in my opinion, better. You can set just the right conditions for your pineapple plants to grow indoors, perfectly.
Also, you can fertilize it easier as well and take better care of the temperature and the wetness of the soil. But it’s up to you to decide how you want to plant your pineapple.
As far as obtaining the actual plant, you also have different options:
- You can cut off the side shoots of a pineapple and plant them.
- You can leave a little bit of the fruit attached to the topknot by cutting an already existing small pineapple plant.
- And you can also divide the root parts of a mature plant and plant them as well.
- You can use pineapple tops
Any of these methods will result in your new pineapple starting to grow.
Soil and Fertilizing
Now that you know where to plant your pineapple plants, let’s see what kind of soil and fertilizer this little plant likes best.
The perfect soil mixture for your baby pineapple would be:
- 1 part peat
- 1 part bark
- 1 part coarse sand or perlite
Be sure that your soil mixture is well-drained and that your container and pot has proper drainage as well. Just measure the volume of your pot or container and calculate how much soil you will need and there you have it.
When it comes to fertilizing, it’s super easy. Just add some diluted liquid fertilizer to your spray bottle and spray the leaves once a month or 6-8 weeks depending on the strength of your fertilizer.
It is advised to use half-strength organic fertilizer and not to over-do it because the leaves of pineapple can lose coloring.
Watering your pineapple plants doesn’t take much effort because it’s a tropical plant and it’s fairly resistant to drought. Even though they are resistant, keep in mind that they simply adore water!
So, you should keep the soil moist by filling the center vase with distilled water or even rain-sourced water if you happen to have it.
The soil mustn’t be too dry and too wet, but rather damp and you should water it once a week and check the soil moisture daily. Also, be sure to provide your plant with proper drainage.
Pro tip: During summer, or spring, your pineapple plants will grow like crazy, so to amplify the growth even more, try adding a bit of fertilizer while watering.
The real secret of pineapple plant care is providing it with proper humidity conditions to simulate the tropical climate.
You should provide average to above average humidity to your pineapple. Now, you might wonder what’s the average humidity? Well, let’s say that you should keep it in a room with a humidity over 40%.
Now, you might wonder how to track humidity. You can use hygrometers to track humidity levels pretty accurately.
Pro tip: If you struggle to keep humidity levels above 40%, you can move your pineapple plant to a bathroom, or just get a humidifier.
Also, you can mist the leaves with water from time to time if you sense that the weather outside is too warm.
Providing proper humidity is important because of 2 things:
- You are recreating a tropical climate during intense summer heats or when you are using artificial heating.
- You are preventing the leaves to go dry which are typically caused by dry air.
As you can see, the combination of taking care of humidity and the moisture of the soil is crucial for your pineapple to grow properly.
The ornamental pineapple plant is a true lover of the sun, but it isn’t a bad idea to keep it in the indirect sunlight as well.
If you want to grow this plant indoors then you want to keep it near a window because the plant simply can’t get enough of sunlight, literally. Give it as much sunlight as you can!
Just make sure to rotate the plant occasionally- you don’t want your pineapple leaning to one side. However, if you can’t provide your plant with enough sun here’s one cool tip for you:
Use indoor grow lights!
They can offer as much light as your plant needs!
Getting back to my previous point, you won’t have any luck growing pineapple in cold. The ideal temperature for growing pineapple is about 65 to 80ºF or 18 to 27ºC.
You should avoid temperatures lower than 55ºF or 13ºC and if you want your pineapple plant to thrive, you’ll have to avoid those cold rooms or heat them up a bit.
You will have to replant your pineapple into a larger container or pot when it grows out the old one. Be sure to make another soil mixture when re-potting and use some of that half-strength fertilizer to initiate the growing process again.
Because the pineapple plant (the ornamental one) grows slowly, after several years when it reaches its maximum height of about 2 feet, you won’t need to change the container. On the other hand, if you planted a pineapple tree that can grow up to 5 feet, you’ll have to repot it more often.
As soon as outgrows the current pot, repot it into a slightly bigger one.
Once your pineapple plant reaches its maximum, be it ornamental or edible, you should only change the soil once a year and give it the usual care so that it stays healthy.
Although pineapple plants are mostly propagated from the mother plants, it’s possible growing pineapple from seeds as well. In total, there are 4 possible ways to propagate pineapple plants, from:
- The pineapple tops (the top of the fruit)
- Pineapple slips (which are just below the pineapple fruit)
- The offsets (or suckers – from the leaf axils)
1. Propagating From Pineapple Tops
Propagating from pineapple tops is the most popular method, and definitely the cheapest!
Here are the steps:
- Make sure your pineapple plant has healthy-looking leaves. If you are buying one from a local market, try to find the one that is slightly unripe. The chances of regrowing will be much higher!
- Twist the top and gently separate it from the fruit.
- Expose the stalk by removing some of the leaves at the bottom.
- Pot it either into a well draining soil, or just place it into a vase with water until it roots a bit and then plant it later.
- Put a pot (or a vase) into a sunny and warm spot.
- A sign of a successful propagation will show after a month or two – you’ll notice new growth.
2. Propagating from Slips
Propagating from slips is similar to the first method. Although I like to leave them air dry for a couple of days (1-2 days) before planting. Make sure you keep them somewhere shaded while air drying.
Here are the steps:
- Prepare your slip – remove a bulge at the end and pill of a few layers
- Let it air dry for a few days in shade
- Plant just 2 inches deep
- Water it just once or twice a week
3. Propagating from Offsets
Once the plant has flowered and the mother plant starts to produce pups instead of growing the leaves, you will be able to propagate from pups.
When you start to notice that offsets begin to grow roots or when they reach about a third size of the mother plant follow the next steps:
- Cut pineapple offsets off
- Let them air dry for a day in a shady place
- Plant them
- Water them once or twice a week
There you go, a new pineapple plant in no time!
4. Propagating from Seeds
I know what you are thinking: “where are the seeds?”
Well, I was thinking the same thing, but then I learned! There are seeds and you can propagate pineapples from seeds.
Just look for the black little dots that are around 0.4in from the outside edge. Even though it’s much more difficult to propagate from seeds, here’s a short guide for those persistent enough:
- Rinse the seeds.
- Use a wet paper towel to wrap the seeds and germinate them.
- Place them in a plastic bag.
- Keep the temperature at 65°f- 75°f
With this method, it will take around half a year for the seeds to sprout! Which makes it the most difficult way of propagating pineapple plants. Needless to say, it takes much more time than propagating from pineapple tops, from slips, or offsets.
How Long Does It Take for a Pineapple to Grow?
It depends on the way you plant them. For example, if you chop the top of a pineapple plant and pot it, it can take up to 2 years for it to grow a fruit. Planting pups (babies, or offsets) will take around a year and a half (18 months) while slips can grow fruit in less than 12 months.
Finally, if you try and grow new pineapple from seeds, it will take 6 months only for seeds to sprout. Major factor are conditions, so depending on the conditions, these times can vary. But, once the pineapple plant flowers, it will need around 6 months to produce a fruit.
So, flowering is a good sign, and the plant will flower as soon as it’s big enough, which brings us back to conditions and how well you take care of it. The better the care and conditions are, the bigger the plant is, the sooner the fruit will grow.
Just like with any other plant, there are some diseases and pests that commonly affect pineapple plants.
Luckily, I am here to inform you of it in time so that you know how to act if some of this should happen to your pineapple plant.
1. Root rot
If you notice that your plant is starting to smell funny and that the leaves are going brown, you might have a problem with root rot.
This will occur when the soil drainage isn’t really as it should be and when the moisture levels are too high for your pineapple plant’s liking.
Sadly, once the root rot affects your plant, there is no going back unless you act immediately. If not, it will only spread and it could be the end of your pineapple plant.
So, if you notice that your plant has a funny smell and browning leaves, take it out of its container and try to remove as much of the damaged root parts as possible.
Know that it is better to remove a bit of healthy parts than leave the rotten root pieces. They spread fast and they can kill the entire plant!
If this happens, go easy on the watering the next time.
Also, note that plants that are being overwatered might start to produce a lot of pups rapidly right before they die.
Luckily, you can replant these, but pay attention to your watering habits all the same.
2. Yellowing Leaves
If you notice that the leaves of your pineapple plant are starting to go dry and to wilt, it can be either a sign of overwatering or underwatering.
In case it is overwatering, you will probably be able to spot some mushy brown spots in addition to improper leaves. If that is the case, repot the plant with good attention to the roots and remove all parts that might look funny or affected by root rot.
If not, then underwatering is the case here.
Of course, you shouldn’t drown your plant in water, but the pineapple plant doesn’t like to live in desert-like conditions either.
So, if you stick your finger or a stick into the soil, you should find signs of just a little bit of moisture before you water again. If there is no moisture at all and the soil is dead-dry, you’re not watering your plant often enough.
In summer, your plant will need more water, and not only because the temperatures are higher, but because this is the active growth period and it will need more energy.
3. Pineapple Plant Pests
Since the pineapple plant likes a little bit of moisture and water, it isn’t uncommon for some pests, like mealybugs or even fungus to appear.
If you notice any of this, try going a little bit easier on the watering and spray your plant with a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide. The normal ratio would be 3:1 in favor of water, but if your hydrogen peroxide is stronger than 3%, add more water to the mix.
Some neem oil spray can help fight off the pests, but your main task should be to fight off the ants that brought the bugs to the plants in the first place.