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How to Grow and Care for your Pineapple Plant

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Pineapple Plant with Fruit

What is a Pineapple Plant?

If you like 'farm to table,' then pull up a chair to your container garden! What a fun way to enjoy the harvest of your labor of love for this tropical! The Pineapple plant is part of the Bromeliad family. This herbaceous perennial has long sword-like leaves growing in a spiral around a central stem. Each pineapple plant will produce one flower stalk and, consequently, one pineapple fruit. These tropicals can be propagated from four areas of the plant. See the notes under propagation to achieve this and enjoy more fruit from this lush plant for years to come.

Bloom: The pineapple-shaped inflorescence portion of the plant arises from the end of the stem and blooms about two weeks and is reddish-brown in color. After the blossoms, the edible fruit begins to set.

Toxicity Level: This plant can be toxic to pets, cats, and dogs if ingested. The immature fruit is poisonous and can cause throat irritation and gastrointestinal upset.

Air Cleaner: The Pineapple plant is noted in NASA studies to improve air quality by pumping out quality oxygen.

Great for people:

  • People who enjoy edible gardening
  • Who enjoy harvesting fruit, cooking, and propagating plants!

Great for Space:

  • Rooms with bright light (southern exposure)

How to Care for a Pineapple Plant

Light preference: Pineapple plants are tropical, so they love to soak up the bright light in a southern exposure window for at least eight hours a day to produce fruit. If left outside on a sunny porch during the spring and summer and brown tips occur, trim back to the green, healthy areas with sterile pruning clippers.

Water/Humidity: Since tropicals can handle lots of water and moisture, remember to water this plant regularly to help its flower and fruit eventually develop. Water the soil directly and keep the soil moist but not soggy. Water once a week when the soil surface is dry.

Interestingly, the leaf blades make a funnel into the plant to distribute water further. If your plant is on a porch area getting direct sun outside during summer months and needs extra water, use a long funnel neck watering-can. Direct the water spout precisely aiming for the scoop of the leaf blade. This method mimics its natural setting when it rains. By doing this, you'll see water pooling up at the base of the leaves. This keeps the plant moisturized. The plant will eventually absorb it or drip down into the soil. To keep humidity high, spritz your plant with a spray bottle of water.

Ideal Temps: 18°C-35°C /65°F-95°F

Plant Food/Fertilizer: Fertilizing this plant once every two months with 10-10-10 NPK and 4-6% magnesium until flowers form, then fertilize every two weeks. See more information under common issues.

Propagation: To keep producing edible fruit and pretend you're on the island of Hawaii while doing it, follow these instructions for a bountiful harvest for years to come!

If you have additional stems protruding from the flower stalk, these are called slips. These pineapple slips look like tiny plantlets that grow at the base of the fruit with a characteristic curve. Pull them off several weeks after harvesting the pineapple to develop into a usable size for propagation. Remove them easily with a sideways twist before the flower stalk dies. Remove leaves up the stem about an inch.

Next, if you have several suckers (plantlets that arise from the leaf axils or bases of the leaves), keep the more robust one. Eliminate the others by grabbing at the bottom of the sucker and twist off too.

Now, what's left is the original plant with the flower stem protruding from the center. The sucker will be growing next to it.

Ratoons are another form of the plant that grows from the rhizomes at the base of the plant. These can be divided and cut away from the mother plant, so they don't compete with each other. Making this division will give plenty of room for adequate light and growth potential. To divide it, move the soil away from the base so you can see where it's attached to the rhizome and twist and pull away. You most likely will see tiny roots forming that you can plant in designated soil medium.

Another source for propagation is the crown of the fruit. Move your hand to the base of the leaves between the fruit and stalk and twist and pop off. No knives required! In fact, when knives are involved, people often leave the flesh of the fruit at the top of the crown, where rot and bacteria can form. And you certainly don't want your plant to start off in that condition! Next, remove the bottom leaves around the stem up at least an inch where it begins to taper. You might be even lucky enough to see tiny root fibers extending out on the stem.

How to plant propagations: Before planting the crowns and slips into the soil medium, remove at least an inch of leaves to give an area for roots to sprout out. If you look closely, you may be able to see roots already forming at the base.

To plant, bury the stem ends into the potting soil about two inches, being careful not to extend up past the base of the leaves. Set your new baby plants in a bright, indirect lighted area, so it grows a healthy root system. Fruiting can take up to 24 months, depending on how happy the plant is, and how much light it is receiving.

Harvesting your fruit: To harvest your pineapple, wait until it turns completely yellow to orange. When it's ripe, simply grab the fruit near the top, make a sideways twist, and it will snap off.

The ripe fruit can be consumed raw or cooked. Remove the leathery skin, green top, and hard core to find a delicious, sweet, juicy yellow flesh. Fun fact is these fruits include bromelain, used in meat tenderizers, and for medicinal purposes like inflammation, digestion, and boosting immunity levels. But don't get inquisitive too early. Green and immature fruits are poisonous and cause throat irritation and gastrointestinal upset.

Cleaning: When watering, also apply a spritz of water with a spray bottle onto its leaves to mimic rain. This will rid the leaves of dust and provide proper humidity for your indoor plant.

Common Issues of the Pineapple Plant

  • Pests most likely to find your pineapple plant are mealy bugs, scale, and mites. All can be removed by washing the leaves with soapy water and rinsing. If using insecticides, read the label, and follow directions.
  • Heart rot is created by fungi, which causes the central leaves to turn black. You can correct this infection by applying a fungicide into the center of the plant. Also, make sure your container is draining correctly and evaluate the watering schedule.
  • If your plant leaves are turning a bright, light green color or showing chlorosis, a lack of iron is the culprit. Apply an organic fertilizer for tomatoes (yes, that other fruit) along with a chelated liquid iron supplement mixed together in a filtered water bucket (where chlorine has been removed). Water the plant first before applying this fertilizer mixture.

Complimentary Plants with your Pineapple plant

To give company to this pineapple plant, have you tried the colorful Croton? It takes bright light to produce its colorful leaves like the pineapple plant. It would definitely compliment the yellows and oranges of the pineapple fruit rind.

The Alocasia Polly or Elephant Ear has very similar characteristics for maintenance. It coincides by needing high bright, direct light as well as the same watering schedule. Spritz it too while you're humidifying the pineapple and breathe in the air because this one also lowers air pollution!

For more information on caring for your new indoor plant, check out our comprehensive care guide here.

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