Monday, September 8, 2014

Just Chop off the Pineapple Top and Grow Another

Although pineapples will take up to 2 years to create 1 fruit, they are easy and low maintenance.  And you can grow one by just cutting off the top of the pineapple you just bought for $5. 

I love pineapples but I never realized how sweet they can be until I grew my own and let them turn yellow on the plant before harvest. Sweet as candy!

What they need:

SUN-                           mostly sunny to part shade

WATER-                    regular overhead but can withstand some drought

HARDINESS-           Zones 9 & 10, grow in a pot in northern zones and bring in as
                                    houseplant during the winter. Can survive temps down to 28°
                                    but won't grow unless over 55°.

SOIL-                         sandy with lots of organic matter, pH of 5.5-6

Commercially grown pineapples like most fruit are picked green so they will have a longer shelf life.  The home gardener has the luxury of leaving fruit until ripe from the sun and picking when ready to eat. This way the sugars are allowed to develop and create a much sweeter and delicious fruit.

Now, you must be saying, “Why should I bother with a fruit that takes 16-24 months to develop, taking up my precious garden space?”  I have found that they make a great ground cover and are drought resistant, they can be placed tightly together to crowd out weeds.  They will grow in full sun or part shade under trees.  They need little fertilizer, I only fertilize one time in spring with a spoon of organic fertilizer or manure.

If you are buying a pineapple at the store or farmers market, why not plant the top instead of throwing it out or into the compost heap?

Pineapples must be grown in a frost free area.  Here in central Florida where we have 2-4  cold nights I have to cover them or they will be top killed that won’t kill the plants but they will have to start over in their growing cycle.

How to grow a pineapple from the top of another:

  1. Chop off the top of a pineapple about 1 inch below the green leaves on the top.
  2. Let dry in the shade for a couple of days so the wet flesh doesn’t rot later causing mold issues.
  3. Plant in ground with some peat, coffee grounds or pine bark chips mixed into the planting hole.
  4. Bring mulch up around the base so all flesh is covered.
  5. Water the top into the center ‘cup’ so water trickles down to the base. Put under spray-type sprinklers or water lightly every couple days to promote root growth. (The top may die back some but don’t worry it will resprout thru the center.
  6. If grown in part shade with rich soil and mulch, you need not water them at all except in dry months. Always water from the top, wetting the entire plant.
  7. After plant is well established and mature, fertilize by putting a handful of organic fertilizer or manure directly into the center cup and water well.
  8. Keep watering in the center cup as that is where the plant takes up water and nutrients.
  9. About 2-3 months later, depending on the sun it gets, it will shoot up a center stalk and a pineapple will form taking up to 4 months to ripen but it will add such an interesting beauty to your garden.
  10. Cut when most of the fruit is yellow. Be patient and you will have the easiest sweet treat you can imagine!

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