Name: Pineapple (Ananas comosus).
Plant type: clump-forming evergreen.
Height: leaves up to 1.5m long (tall); plants can be 1m wide.
Foliage: light or dark grey-green, long and slender, prickly.
Climate: tropical to sub-tropical, warm temperate. Must be frost free.
Soil: prefers well-drained quality soil, but can survive in all but waterlogged soils.
Position: full sun to part-shade.
Flowering and fruiting: fruit usually becomes ripe in summer.
Feeding: little required.
Watering: little required.
There are probably few home gardeners who have seriously considered trying to grow a pineapple. They may have seen them growing in nurseries, or helped the kids grow a pineapple top, but grow them to eat? Never! They are extraordinarily easy to grow, and despite technically being a tropical or sub-tropical plant they can produce fruit in warm temperate and even cold temperate regions, provided they are protected from frost or sub-zero temperatures.
The pineapple is actually a bromeliad, which you will recognise instantly when you see the plant without fruit. The foliage can vary in colour but it’s generally a grey-green. Like many bromeliads, the leaves tend to have sharp teeth along the margins. They are quite heavily dished—this is a modification to catch any available water. As the leaves are held in a rosette pattern around the base, this directs any water to the base and roots. That’s one of the things that makes the pineapple so hardy—it’s self-watering! Being a bromeliad, it is very hardy and requires very little care to thrive.
A pineapple has several uses, including:
A pineapple prefers full sun to light shade. Direct sun and high temperatures may cause fruit to split, so if you are in a very hot zone aim for light shade.
A well-drained, good-quality soil is best, but like most bromeliads, pineapple is adaptable to just about any type of soil, even nearly pure sand or gravel, provided drainage is good. Waterlogging will kill your pineapple very quickly. If you have heavy or clay soil, you can still grow a pineapple, but you’ll need to create a raised planting bed for it.
In warmer areas, your pineapple will be happy in an exposed location. In cooler zones, find a warm, sunny, sheltered micro-climate. When temperatures drop below 15˚C its growth will all but stop, and below zero will likely kill it. In cool areas you may find it’s best to grow it in a large pot so it can be moved around to the warmest areas.
For best results, follow these tips when planting your pineapple:
Once a year, apply a controlled-release fertiliser that is balanced for fruit production, and liquid feed in the warm seasons with an organically fortified product. Keep your plant tidy by removing any dead foliage that may develop lower down, and top up mulch annually.
Put potted plants on pot-rollers so they can easily be moved around into the best position.
The only pruning your pineapple will require is to remove dead or damaged leaves.
Diseases and pests Mealybugs may be a problem.
You can grow a new pineapple from the crown. Simply put, this is the leafy top cut from a ripe pineapple.
To do this, make a cutting from the top of the fruit. Remove the bottom few rounds of leaves, then place the crown somewhere warm to dry and seal for a few days. It can then be then planted, just very lightly buried, in a quality potting mix, or stood in a warm spot in a shallow saucer of water until roots develop.
You can also grow a pineapple from a cutting. A pineapple plant produces shoots from multiple areas. As the pineapple plant only has a productive life of 3–5 years, it’s wise to always have a new generation of plants coming on. You can take any of the following types of cuttings:
Any of these can be carefully and cleanly removed, allowed to heal for about a week, and then planted into a quality potting mix to get them established.
Patience is your greatest tool when growing a pineapple. A new plant can take 18–24 months before it starts flowering, and then it can be up to 275 days from flower to fruit in a warm climate.
After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
Bromeliad: if a pineapple does well at your place, consider a bromeliad for sun or shade.
Mango: if you have a climate that suits a pineapple, chances are a mango will also thrive at your place.
Dragon fruit: keen to try another exotic fruit? You’ll love dragon fruit.
Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!
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