Pineapples belong to the Bromeliad family and are the only variety amongst over 3000 that are grown for their edible fruit. Many others however are grown for their unique and amazing flowers that appear on a stalk from the plant's centre just as the pineapple flowers and then fruit do.
Pineapples are inexpensive and growing them is child's play as they require very little care. The reward for growing these internationally recognized symbols for the tropics is sweet, very sweet in fact. People all over the world have been enjoying the pineapple fruit, which is extremely high in Vitamin C, since Columbus first introduced it to Spain from the Caribbean over 500 years ago. The natives of the West Indies had introduced pineapples to their culture and diets several 100's of years prior to that when Anana meaning excellent fruit was originally discovered in the inland areas of what is now Brazil and Paraguay.
The pineapples unique growth cycle and fruit development make the pineapple a fun Bromeliad to grow. The foliage of the pineapple can range from simple green to green and white stripes. The leaves are waxy with spines on the edges. The plant typically produces up to two hundred flowers. The fruits or berries of these flowers join together to make the pineapple. While the pineapple plant readily provides beautiful foliage all the time the fruit requires patience. It can take as long as three years between planting the crown and harvesting the fruit. When the plant produces it's fruit has largely to do with the size and maturity of the plant. In ideal conditions between 12 and 14 months the plant will start an inflorescence bud in the center of the leaves. Two months later a bright red cone appears. The cone will then be covered with blue flowers lasting only a day. Flower development typically happens during the winter months when the days are shorter. After the flowering the pineapple may take another four months or longer to ripen. When the fruit has turned from green to a golden color it is ripe. It will also have a sweet smell.
Growing your own Pineapples
So let's grow our own. The easiest way to get started is to purchase a pineapple.
- Grasp the leaves (the crown) of the pineapple near where they meet the fruit.
- Gently twist while pulling away from the fruit.
- The leaves will pull off leaving only a small nubbin where they once met the fruit.
- Next gently pull away the bottom few layers of leaves. As you do this you will expose new roots.
- Pull the leaves away about 2 or 3 centimetres up the stalk or until you no longer see the root nodules.
- Allow the crown to dry for 5-7 days before planting.
- Drying out the pineapple crown prevents it from rotting when you plant it in the soil.
- Now take the dried exposed root nodes and dip them in water and then a rooting hormone powder.
- Tap off any excess powder before planting it into a prepared pot with a good quality potting mix.
- Water in and place in a warm sunny position keeping it moist but not wet.
- As the crown shows that it has taken by producing new leaves it will require moving to a bigger pot as it out grows the one it is in.
- At this point you may decide to plant it into your garden or keep moving your new pineapple plant into a larger pot as required.
- Fully grown the leaves of your pineapple plant may reach 1 metre high and 1 metre wide.
- Pineapple plants require a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight every day.
Darren Sovereign is a Gold Coast local with a Diploma of Horticulture and a passion for getting kids involved in the joy of gardening. If you have any feedback for Darren, please comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org