Not only are pineapples delicious they can make lovely little houseplants if you’ve got a sunny spot to grow them in. If you’re growing them outside then in a couple of years it might start putting out it’s own pineapples which you can plant the tops of until you’ve got a whole pineapple plant army!
Choose a Pineapple
First things first, you’ll need a pineapple. Any one will do. I’ve had great success growing them from the tops of regular supermarket pineapples. Just try and make sure you get a good ripe one.
There’s three main ways to tell if a pineapple is ripe, the smell, the colour and the squishiness.
Sniff the bottom of the pineapple and if it smells sweet and pineappley then it’s ripe.
Underripe pineapples will feel hard when you squeeze them whereas a ripe pineapple will have a little give to it.
Pineapples start out a greenish grey, then ripen to a lovely golden colour and once they’re a bit past ripe they start to go a darker orange. Aim for an all over golden colour. Pineapples don’t ripen much once they’ve been picked so if you grab a green one it’s unlikely to turn golden.
For planting, starting with an overripe or underripe pineapple won’t make too much difference. When you’re planting seeds from store bought produce you need ripe or overripe fruit or veg to be sure the seeds are fully developed. With pineapples, we’re not planting seeds so it should work fine if it’s a little over or underripe.
Preparing the Pineapple Top
I’ve found the easiest way to get the top out is to grab the leaves and twist. The leaves should come free with a stumpy bit attached to the bottom. If you’ve already cut the top off then you’ll need to remove all the extra flesh from around the bottom of the stem.
Next up, we need to clear some of the leaves off the bottom of the stem. The little nodes that’ll become roots are snuggled away in between the leaves so peeling them off will help expose them so that they can grow. Grab the bottom most leaf and pull downwards and it should peel off. Keep on going until you’ve exposed a decent amount of stem. Aim for a couple of inches if your pineapple top is big enough. Aside from exposing the nodes, the less leaves left, the less the roots will have to support while they’re getting established. It does need some leaves left on there though for photosynthesis.
Drying Your Pineapple Top
Pop your pineapple top somewhere dry for a couple of days to callous over. I like to put it upside down so it’s balancing on it’s leaves so that any moisture goes back up into the leaves and the bottom of the stem has really good airflow. Once the bottom of the stem looks like it’s dried up you’re ready to start growing it!
Getting Your Pineapple Top to Grow Roots
Grab a jar where the mouth is wide enough for the pineapple top to hang down into the jar without touching the bottom, but small enough that the leaves can balance on it and keep the pineapple suspended in the jar.
Pop the pineapple in there and fill it up with water until the stem is almost completely submerged. I like to leave a little bit of the stem out of the water because if the leaves are in the water then they’ll start to rot. Put it somewhere where it’ll get plenty of bright indirect light.
Change out the water every couple of days – if you don’t it’ll start to get really manky. When you change the water have a little check of to see if there’s any nodes starting to grow or if there’s any mushy spots. If you notice the bottom has started to go a bit mushy then you’ll need to start over with a fresh pineapple top because a mushy stem is the first sign of rot.
After a couple of weeks the roots should be getting long enough to move your pineapple into soil.
Moving Your Pineapple Top to Soil
I like to get mine into soil as soon as the roots are a couple of centimetres long. Water doesn’t give the roots any resistance to help them grow strong and it doesn’t have the nutrients plants need for healthy growth so the sooner you get it into soil the better.
Grab a pot, I’m using a 6 inch plastic nursery pot, and fill it with potting soil leaving enough space for the pineapple stem to be planted. Give it a pat down. Stick your pineapple stem on top of the soil and try and gently spread out the roots. The roots are fairly flexible but don’t bend them around too much – it would suck to break them now!
Hold it in place and fill in around it with soil. Instead of patting the soil down which could damage the roots I give the soil a really good water and let the soil move into place then add more soil if it needs it. Keep the soil level below the leaves, if the leaves are in constant contact with the soil then they’ll start to rot and the rot could spread to the stem which’ll kill the whole plant.
One problem with planting pineapple tops is they don’t have a big enough root system to keep them upright. I use a few toothpicks carefully poked in the soil around the stem to hold it in place while the roots get big enough to anchor the plant. Keep an eye on the toothpicks though as they can start to get a bit furry and mouldy if you leave them in there too long so change them out for new ones whenever they’re looking a bit suspicious.
Caring for Your Pineapple Plant
I give my potted up pineapple bright indirect light for the first week or two to let it adjust to the new growing medium. If everything looks good then I start slowly hardening it off to brighter conditions.
During the first couple of weeks I water it whenever the top layer of soil starts to look dry but as I harden it off and the root system gets larger I start to cut back on watering until it’s getting watered whenever the top inch or so of soil is dry.
Once it moves up a pot size I treat it how I would treat a regular pineapple plant. It’s roots system is established enough to give the plant everything it needs to keep it going as well as keep it upright! If you’re planning to plant your pineapple in the garden then once it outgrows it’s initial 6 inch pot, it’s the perfect time to make the move as long as it’s been hardened off to the amount of light it’ll be getting in it’s new location.