How to Grow and Care for a Pineapple Plant, Indoors or Outside
Pineapples look tough and spiky on the outside, but inside, they're packed with sweet, juicy goodness. Most of the pineapples you'll find in a grocery store come from tropical regions, so you can grow the plants in your own backyard if you live in USDA Zone 11 or 12. Gardeners in other areas can grow indoor pineapple plants and move them outside for the summer. It's easy to get started by planting a pineapple top. With a little luck and the right growing conditions, your plant might even flower and produce a pineapple fruit for you. All you need is a ripe fruit with a healthy, leafy top. Then here's what you need to know to grow it into a new plant.
How to Plant a Pineapple Top
Use a sharp knife to cut the crown, or leafy top, from a fresh, ripe pineapple (Ananas comosus). Remove any fruit pulp, leaving an inch of stem, and let it dry in a well-ventilated spot for a week. Next, put the stem end into a container of fresh potting soil (or if you live in a tropical place, plant the stem right in a garden bed with soil that drains easily).
Pineapples, which are related to bromeliads, need sandy, loamy soil with a pH of 4.5 to 6.5. A cactus and citrus potting mix is ideal. An orchid mix made with one-part peat, one-part coarse sand, and one-part perlite also works. If you're using a container, start with a 6- to 8-inch pot. Plan to repot into a slightly larger container when the plant's roots fill the whole space. A mature pineapple plant can reach five feet tall and three to four feet wide. However, it's likely to stay smaller as a potted plant.
Keep the garden soil or potting mix moist until roots form in two or three months. Once your pineapple top is well-rooted, you can let the soil dry slightly between waterings.
Pineapple Plant Care Tips
Pineapple plants do best with at least six hours of bright, indirect light each day. Indoors, near a south-facing window is a good choice. Pineapples grow best in temperatures between 68 and 86°F. To grow a pineapple outside in your garden, wait until the weather stays consistently warm in late spring or early summer before planting.
If you move your indoor pineapple plant outside for the summer, gradually expose it to outdoor conditions first. Then, bring potted pineapple plants inside when the temperatures drop below 60°F. Otherwise, a blanket or mulch may help protect outdoor plants, although they can still suffer damage. These tropical fruits grow slowly below 60°F. and above 90°F. The lowest temperature a pineapple plant can survive is 28°F.
Pineapples can absorb water and nutrients thought their leaves, so mist indoor plants twice a week when they're actively growing and once weekly in the winter. Give indoor plants plenty of humidity or group them with other plants to help keep moisture in the surrounding air.
Feed your plant once every two months. Use a 10-10-10 balanced fertilizer that has 4 to 6 percent magnesium until flowers develop. Then feed every two weeks.
How Long Does It Take to Grow a Pineapple?
Pineapple plants can be tricky about flowering and fruiting. Once your plant has about 30 leaves, you can try forcing it to bloom by covering the plant and a rotten apple with a plastic bag. The apple will produce ethylene gas, which encourages flowering. Keep the plant out of direct sun and remove the bag after a week. If all goes well, a flower spike will appear in a couple of months, followed by a pineapple fruit. Pick the new fruit when the bottom half turns gold. The original plant will die after fruiting.
Are Pineapple Plant Leaves Toxic to Cats and Dogs?
According to the ASPCA, small bites of ripe pineapple fruits are safe for cats and dogs. Just don't give them unripe fruit, which can have toxic effects. Pineapple plant leaves are not toxic to cats and dogs, but they can cause allergic reactions, irritate throats and mouths, and upset digestive systems.
Pineapple Plant Problems
If mites, scale and mealybugs show up, rinse off indoor plants with a spray of water from your shower or kitchen sink or spray outdoor plants with the hose. If needed, apply an insecticidal soap, making sure to follow all label directions.
Root rot caused by overwatering can slow down a pineapple plant's growth, discolor leaves, and lead to the whole plant dying. Gently wiggle your plant around in its pot to test for this. If it seems loose, remove the plant from the pot, cut off the rotting parts, and repot in fresh soil. Water your repotted plant to settle it in, but then cut back a little on your watering to avoid keeping conditions too soggy. If you have a saucer under the pot, definitely don't leave water puddled in it; make sure to empty any moisture that drains out when you water.
Low iron can make pineapple plant leaves burn bright green or yellow. Fix the problem with a foliar spray of iron.