Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pineapple (Ananas comosus)

Mid- to late summer marks the peak of the pineapple season for most home-growers, although pineapples can fruit any month of the year in warm climates.

What many people don't realize is that there are many different varieties, each with their own unique characteristics. The fruit you buy in the grocery store is pretty much all some variation of the Smooth Cayenne variety.  The other varieties that are not so easily found have fruit with different textures, flavors, color, size, etc.

What many people also don't realize is how beautiful pineapple plants are as they prepare to flower.  Here is a sampling of a few different varieties:
Pineapples are very easy to grow in areas where winter temperatures don't drop below the mid 20s F.  In colder regions, many varieties can easily be grown in pots. 
The plants will grow in either sun or shade, but plants in sunny locations usually fruit sooner than shaded  plants. 

Most people start their first pineapple plant from the crown of a pineapple they bought at the store.  This is easy to do.  Simply twist off the top, let it dry for a couple of days, pull off any dried or small leaves at the base, and stick it in the dirt.  
Unfortunately, this is not the best way to start pineapples and first-time growers are usually disappointed with the long wait for fruit (possibly 3 years or more).
The best way to start a pineapple is from a sucker.  You'll have to know someone who is already growing pineapples to get these, so make some friends!  The suckers grow directly from the main stem of the mother plant and usually appear from the leaf axils after fruiting.  
Leave one large sucker growing from the lowest point on the mother plant to produce next year's fruit.  Remaining suckers can be removed and planted on their own.  

Allow suckers to grow a little larger than a typical pineapple crown before removing them. Here's a sucker that is ready to be removed.
Remove it by pulling outward and twisting to the side at the same time.  A nice big sucker will pop right off the mother plant.  These are ready to stick in the ground immediately, and often fruit within a year.

Another method of starting new plants is to take one of the slips that develop on the fruiting stem, or at the base of the developing fruit. These planting pieces usually won't mature as fast as a sucker, but they will fruit sooner than a crown. 

The slips attached to the fruiting stem will continue to grow as long as they are attached. Again, allow them to reach a good size before removing them. Here are some slips growing after the fruit has been harvested.

The slips attached to the base of the fruit will be removed when you harvest the fruit and cut it for eating. These will be smaller than the slips allowed to grow on the fruiting stem, but they will still develop into nice plants. Some pineapple varieties are more likely to do this than others.

As the pineapple fruit grows, it will have a dark purplish coloration in most varieties. 
As it nears maturity, it will turn green.  
At this stage you'll want to start watching it closely.  As soon as the base of the fruit turns yellow and develops the familiar pineapple fragrance, it's time to pick or time to protect it!  If you leave fragrant fruit ripening out in the open, some creature of the night will pick it for you and you'll only be left with scraps!
Once you get a few pineapples going, they will continue to multiply every year, and soon you'll have plenty of fruit to share with friends and neighbors!
And remember, nothing tastes better than a fruit you've grown yourself!


BernieH said...

Great informative post ... just loved those various flowers! I didn't realise they could be so lovely.

Carol@KeepingUpWith said...

Thank you for the encouragement. My son finally convinced me to grow one from a store bought pineapple and I always wondered HOW they multiplied if it was a one-to-one tradeoff for fruit. Ha! Now I know that I can get more bang for my buck by cultivating those suckers.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Interesting post. Slow growing but worth it. We live in temperate area and our pineapple that we planted from crown has been growing in our patch for more than a year now. We called them P1 & P2 like banana in pyjamas.

p3chandan said...

I have never seen pineapples' flowers before, those are unusual n exotic looking flowers! I've been trying to grow them by their crown, but still no sign of roots but their leaves are a mix of green n yellow.So not sure they dead or alive? :-)

africanaussie said...

Hi Jim,
I was just out in the garden yesterday taking photos of my first pineapple that is fruiting from a pineapple top, and I think it took about two years. Good information on getting those suckers. We also have an ornamental bromeliad that has tiny pinepple like flowers/fruit on a long stalk. I dont know how common they are there? I will put up a post later today with some photos so watch out for that. I really enjoy reading your very informative posts.

Ami said...

I think I have the one varity at your bottom left corner. Red leaves with red small pineapples.

I also have tried several times to grow pineapple from the store bought crowns. But for some reason eventually they all rotted in the ground, even after several months good growth. Now I just started another one in the pot, and seems it is doing fine. Cross my fingers to get this one growing to a real pineapple!

Susan said...

I am amazed at the many different varieties of pineapples...they are beautiful. We've grown store bought varieties and have had good success and enjoyed eating them. Last winter the cold weather got the best of them.

Anonymous said...

I bought a pineapple plant that already had a pineapple growing on it. It was $20, from a fruit shop in terry hills on powderworks road, sydney.

luckyducky9752 said...

Excellent article! Thanks for all the info. My first plant has begun to fruit and this is so fun! I kind of want to transplant to a bigger pot but don't think it wise while fruiting? Will love to see the babies shoot out.