Is it hard to grow pineapples? How long does it take? There is nothing better than eating fresh pineapple; the juicy bite and sweet taste. It is a versatile fruit and can be used in many dishes. It also makes a great houseplant. Let’s find out to grow them and how long it takes so you can get started growing your own.
How do Pineapples Grow
Although fruit typically grows on trees, pineapples do not. They grow on shrubby plants close to the ground. The stiff stems emerge from the center of the Bromeliad plant. To look at a pineapple you would not know that it is made of 220 individual flowers that have fused together. These pineapple flowers will then develop into berries. The berries are what form the juicy yellow fruit called a pineapple.
Pineapples can grow quite large; heights of five to seven feet. After you harvest the plants, the roots will live on and produce a new shoot, which will produce an additional pineapple. A single plant can give about eight pineapples. The size of the pineapple will reduce each year. When it becomes one single stem without any branches, the plant will bear no more fruit.
How to Grow Pineapples
The crown of the pineapple is what is grown as a pineapple plant once you have it rooted. They can also grow from plantlets at the base of the plant called slips and side shoot or suckers. Suckers come out of the roots next to the crown at the base of the stalk and each one will grow a single pineapple. The slips and side shoots grow out of the stalk and will produce fruit too
These grow between the tough spiky leaves. These are what are generally used to grow pineapples on a commercial scale. If you have a mature plant, you can use these also to start a new plant.
In order to grow, they will need to have well-draining, acidic soil, and lots of sunshine. They do not like frost so if you live in a cold climate you should grow them in containers so you can bring them inside during the winter.
How Long Does it Take to Grow a Pineapple
It generally takes between 18 and 24 months for the plant to flower and produces fruit. They grow the fastest from the slips and side shoots. These will have fruit between 12 and 18 months whereas the tops take about 24 months. They will take longer to grow and bear fruit in colder climates.
It will take about eight weeks for the roots to grow after you plant the top of the plant. Over the next 18 months or longer, you should see sword-shaped leaves growing around the central stem. When the pineapple plant has about 70 leaves it will be ready to flower. Once it has flowered, it will take another six months for the pineapple to ripen.
To tell if it is ready you need to gently squeeze it. The spiky shell should be firm but slightly soft. The base should give off a sweet aroma too. Be sure that it is ripe before you harvest them because unlike other fruits, it will not continue to ripen.
Growing a Pineapple From Tops
- Slice the spiky top so there is not fruit flesh left on the base.
- From around the base, you will need to remove the small bottom leaves until you have about one to two inches of exposed stalk. Pluck the leaves off by hand. Do not cut them off.
- Before you plant the pineapple top, you will need to let it dry for a day or two. By doing this it will allow the cut end to callous. They will reduce the risk of root rot and helps the plant to grow better.
- Dig a small hole and plant the top. Make sure that it is straight and does not fall over. Make sure the leaves are not covered by the soil.
The plants need to be grown in a light, aerated potting mix or you can make your own combining equal amounts of perlite and sand. When you plant it, make sure that the potting soil is just up to the base of the leaves. Water it thoroughly and then put it in a sunny place but make sure that it is protected from the direct sunlight.
Until the roots appear you will need to keep the soil moist but not too damp for the next few weeks. The roots should start to develop over the next six to eight weeks. After the roots develop, it will need more light; at least six hours each day. Make sure that you water it only after the soil has dried out.
You can transfer the pineapple plant to a sunny outdoor spot after the roots have developed or you can continue growing in a container. Never let your plant sit in waterlogged, soggy soil or it could develop root rot. The plant will die then.
Growing a Pineapple From Suckers
If you have a mature pineapple plant, you can grow another from the suckers. Cut them off and remove the lower leaves. You will also need to let it dry for a few days. Once they are dried they can be planted in light, loamy soil. Once planted, water them thoroughly. You will find the suckers growing among the leaves.
The suckers need to be four to six inches before you pull them off. The pineapple plant will continue to grow suckers so you will be able to grow as many pineapple plants as 6666666want.
Pineapple Growing Care Guide
Sun: They will need a lot of sunshine to grow so if you are planting them outdoors, do it in the sunniest spot in the garden. You can also grow them in dappled shade. They need about six to eight hours of sunlight each day. Make sure the plant is near a south-facing window when growing them indoors.
Water: Between watering, allow the soil to dry out. They have tough leaves so they do not lose moisture to evaporation like some plants. The center of the spiky foliage acts like a cup that can store water. So the soil must be dry and the cup is empty before you water it.
When you are growing it in a container, put your finger about three inches into the soil to see if the soil is wet or dry. If it is dry then you need to water it thoroughly. If there is any hit of moisture then hold off watering until it is dry.
Soil: The soil needs to be light, aerated, and well-drained. You can use a mixture of perlite, sand, and some organic material. They do not need particularly fertile soils to grow. The most important fact is that the water needs to drain freely. They do not have an extensive root system so they do not need soil that is too dense. The soil pH should be from 4.5 to 6.5. If it is not acidic enough you can add peat moss to get the right pH.
Temperature: The optimal temperature is between 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. They do not grow well in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit or temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit or frost will keep the plant.
They grow in zones 10 and 11 in the United States. In colder climates, grow then inside in the early spring, fall, and winter. You can move them to the garden when it gets above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and stays there.
Fertilizer: They do not require too much fertilization but when you do fertilizer them use a diluted organic liquid fertilizer. This fertilizer should contain fish emulsion or seaweed extract. Apply it once in the summer and the spring. One thing to remember is that concentrated artificial fertilizers can burn the pineapple plant.
To make sure that it is getting the right nutrients, work compost into the ground before you plant them. Once you have it planted, put a thick layer of bark mulch around the plant but make sure that you leave a little bare ground around the stem.
All About the Pineapple
Flower: The flowers will start to grow on the long end of a straight stem and will grow as a spiky growth cluster in a pineapple shape. They will fuse to create the pineapple. They only flower once before they die.
Fruit: The time the pineapple fruit is ready will vary but generally it is 16 months. It takes longer to grow them from a top.
Ripen: They have to ripen on the stem so you need to make sure you pick them at the right time to enjoy their tropical tangy taste. The skin of the fruit should start to turn yellow when it is ripe and it should give a little when you squeeze it. From the base of the fruit, there should be a sweet aroma.
- Take the suckers for new plants from the ones that produce the largest and juiciest fruits
- The best plants are the ones that are grown lowest to the ground
- They have a small root system so this makes it easy for you to dig them up if you want to transfer them to a container or another place in the garden.
- If you are growing them from suckers, grow them close together in a nursery bed. When the plants reach 12 inches, you can transplant them to give them more room to grow.
- The Smooth Cayenne variety is the easiest type to grow.
- They will grow well in containers but make sure that it is big enough for the plant to grow large. The containers should be four to five-gallon planters. When growing them in containers, always make sure that there is a drainage hole in the bottom.
- You should also prune your pineapple plant to keep it from sprawling. You just need to trim the larger leave from time to time. Also, prune the ground suckers as they produce the smallest fruit. Pruning is more about appearance than encouraging its health.
- When you harvest your pineapple, it should sound solid when you tap it. If not, let it ripen longer. Use a sharp knife to cut where it joins the stalk. You need to make sure you cut them off and not pull them because it will damage the plant.
- Birds can be a threat to the growing plants so use bird nets. Make sure that you cover the plants carefully but anchor it all the way around the planting.
Variety of Pineapples
There are more than 2000 varieties of pineapples. Some are grown for juices, for eating, and more. Here are some of the different varieties.
- Abacaxi: This popular variety is quite resistant to disease and very sweet.
- Red Spanish: These are mostly found in the Caribbean and are orange-red
- Queen: These are found in South Africa and Australia
- Smooth Cayenne: In the United States, this is the most popular variety. They can weigh from four to ten pounds and bigger than most of the other varieties.
It is not hard to grow pineapples but you have to have patience as it can take almost two years from planting to having a pineapple that is ready to eat. Pineapples are easy and fun to grow from their tops. Once you have a plant, then you can harvest the suckers and soon you will have plenty of pineapples/
The pineapple is a perennial or biennial plant, which means that the plant can live for two or more years. It might seem like a hassle to get pineapples to start growing and also the long wait until they are ripe but it is well worth the wait. When growing pineapples, it is a way to create your tropical vacation without leaving home.