The Urban Homesteader: Grow Your Own Pineapples
For years I had been trying to figure out how to grow a pineapple from a cutting when out of frustration I just stuck a fresh-cut green top in a pot of dirt on our deck and forgot about it. I had done such a hasty job of cleaning the stalk that the small army of squirrels in our yard finished it for me – I came outside one morning to find dirt everywhere and the stalk picked clean of any of the yellow fruit, leaving only the green center stalk. I put it back in the pot, watered it a bit, and forgot about it again.
Fast forward a few months. We’re packing up to move, and as we take an inventory of the pots on our deck, we noticed the stalk had actually rooted and was attempting to grow. We were shocked, it actually worked!
That one cutting has since turned into a veritable potted pineapple farm for us, producing over a dozen plants and almost twice as many fruit. The original plant is now seven years old and still producing baby plants and the occasional fruit.
Over the years, we’ve tweaked our planting and growing techniques a bit for consistent results. Here’s how to grow your own fruity sunshine – you’ll never buy a pineapple in the store (or especially in a can) once you’ve grown your own.
Trim the top ½” of fruit and the green, leafy stalk off the top of a ripe organic pineapple. Cut off all the yellow fruit, and the bottom ¼” of the stalk (so no yellow fiber remains). Peel off the green leaves one at a time until you have about ½” of bare white stalk showing (you should also see some brown dots, these are the root nodes).
Fill a small glass or pint-size Mason jar with filtered water almost to the top. Place the stalk into the glass or jar with enough water to cover the bottom white stalk and root nodes. Put it somewhere with bright light and replace the water every few days to keep it fresh. Thin white roots will begin to appear; once they are about an inch long, you’re ready to plant.
Fill a 12” wide pot with organic potting soil almost to the top then gently nestle the roots of the stalk in loose soil, cover roots with soil, then pat down the soil to remove air pockets. Water thoroughly and ensure the pot drains well. Cover the soil with a layer of mulch and place in a sunny spot. (Note: The plants are very sharp and pointy so best to put them somewhere pets, small children or clumsy adults can’t wander into them.)
Wait two years. Seriously, pineapples take a while to grow their first fruit. In the meantime, care is easy, as our natural Florida rainfall is typically adequate, and the plants like plenty of sun to produce large, robust fruit. Additional watering during very long dry or hot spells (particularly during flowering and fruiting) will improve the fruit, and a little shade in the middle of the long, hot days of summer isn’t a bad idea.
Before fruiting, the plant will grow to at least two feet wide, so you will need to transplant it into a larger pot. It can live in this pot indefinitely.
Finally, pineapple plants will fruit better with a light application of organic citrus fertilizer (Espoma’s Citrus-tone plant food is my favorite) to the roots, once while growing and again when they flower and again while growing fruit (this process will take 6 months). You’ll need to add a stake to the pot to tie up the plant and support the fruit once it begins blooming.
Once the fruit turns yellow it is ready to harvest. Keep an eye out for critters in your yard that might eat it before you are ready … if you’re afraid they’ll get it at the peak, you can also pick a little early and let it continue to ripen on the kitchen counter.