Growing pineapples in a tropical region is about as low maintenance as it gets. Our comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to start growing pineapple plants in the tropics. We’ll cover the basics like origin and characteristics, as well as more advanced topics like propagation and pests and diseases. By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to grow your own delicious pineapples. Better get your blender ready, because once you start, the pineapples will multiple faster than you can imagine!

Origin and Characteristics

The pineapple is believed to have originated in South America, but it is now grown all over the world. The regions that grow the most pineapple are Thailand, Hawaii, China, the Philippines, Brazil, and Costa Rica.

The pineapple is part of the Bromeliaceae plant family and is considered a perennial tropical shrub. It is characterized by its long, sword-like leaves and small, fragrant flowers. The leaves grow in the shape of a rosette, out of which grows a stem that bears first the flower, and then the fruit we commonly know as pineapple. The whole plants itself can grow to to approximately 5 feet tall at maturity and about 3 or 4 feet wide.

Pineapples are a good source of Vitamin C and dietary fibre. They also contain antioxidants and enzymes that can help with digestion. There is no tropical paradise that we know of in which you will not find a fun list of pineapple-flavoured alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks on every restaurant’s menu. The sweet and tart flavour combination of pineapple is so versatile, it easily lends itself to both sweet and savoury dishes and is one of our favourite fruits to sneak into meals. Pineapple pizza, anyone?

Growing pineapples can be as easy as saving the top of the last pineapple you ate and planting it in your garden. Or, if you are feeling both more adventurous and inpatient, you can plant a new pineapple from the slip or sucker of an existing pineapple. We’ll talk about this more in this article.

Varieties

There are over 100 different varieties of pineapples, but the most common type is the Smooth Cayenne. This variety is a good choice for beginners, as it is easy to grow and produces large fruit.

Hawaiian Pineapple Farm

Other popular varieties include the Red Spanish, the Sweet Hawaiian, and the Sugarloaf. Here, in South America, we have a variety commonly known as Mountain Lily or Creole, fairly large in size, with white meat and a more acidic flavour than the typical Hawaiian pineapple found in North American grocery stores. This local variety has reddish green leaves, and looks beautiful popping up in corners of your garden.

Mountain Lily/Creole Variety

Climate

Pineapples grow best in tropical climates where the temperature is warm and moist all year round. They can be grown in other climates, but they will not produce as much fruit and may be more susceptible to pests and diseases. They can however, be easily grown indoors in cooler climates and take well to living in pots their whole lives, as long as they have enough space and a good spot in a sunny location. They will mature slower if grown in lower temperatures, but mature nonetheless.

THE BASICS

Common NamePineapple
Botanical NameAnanas comosus
ClimateTropical or sub-tropical
Best Time to PlantEarly spring
LightFull sun or partial shade (in extreme heat)
SoilPineapples like well drained, sandy loam that is rich in compost
Pests and DiseasesAphids, mealybugs, blackrot
LikesSpace to stretch out their leaves, plentiful sun
DislikesWet soil, too much water, soil that is too dense and compact

Planting

When To Plant

If you are in a temperate climate, they should be planted in the spring or early summer, when the weather is warm and the danger of frost has passed. In the tropics, you can plant them just about any time, keeping in mind that just about anything you plant in the beginning of wet season will grow faster and require less care. Once you have some pineapple plants that are producing suckers and slips, you can keep planting them. In this way, eventually you will have pineapples maturing throughout the year. All you really need is enough space for them to grow.

Spacing

These plants need plenty of room to grow and should be planted at least three feet apart. This will give them enough room to grow and ensure good air circulation, which is important for preventing diseases.

Fertilizing

Pineapples like to be fertilized or fed every two to four weeks during their growing season. A balanced fertilizer with a ratio of eight-eight-eight or ten-ten-ten is a good choice. Putting down mulch around the plants and adding a good compost is also important and will help the plant give you big, juicy fruit. If you make a good, natural compost and use chicken or goat manure and lots of mulch, you can skip the commercial fertilizer all-together, and you pineapples will be very happy.

Make sure that whatever you feed your pineapple ends up touch the leaves a little bit. These plants absorb everything through their leaves and rely on this for much of their water and nutrients.

Pollination

Passion fruit prefers soil that is rich in organic matter and well-drained. The soil should be watered The pineapple is pollinated by the hummingbird. You can still find pineapples with seeds, but generally not if the source is a store. The seeds are very small and can be found scattered throughout the pineapple’s flesh. To grow pineapples with seeds, you would need to have at least two varieties which can be cross-pollinated by hummingbirds. This would then produce pineapples with seeds.

Propagating

Pineapples can be propagated by seed, but it is not very common. It would take a long time, more than most people are willing to wait for a single pineapple fruit. It’s much more common to grow them from cuttings, slips, or suckers.

How to Grow From Seeds

To grow a pineapple from a seed, remove the seeds from the fruit and plant them in moist sand or soil. The seeds should be kept warm and humid until they germinate, which can take up to six weeks.

How to Grow From Cuttings

Pineapple suckers, freshly planted

To grow a pineapple from a cutting, remove the top of the fruit with about two inches of stem attached. Plant the stem in moist sand or soil and keep it warm and humid. In six to eight weeks, roots should begin to grow. It is not necessary to root your new plant in water. If your soil is at least decent and you are in a climate the pineapple likes, it will grow.

Caring

Soil

Pineapples grow best in sandy, well-drained soil with a pH of around four to six. In a tropical region, they should be planted in full sun or partial shade. Being part of the bromeliads, pineapples like fairly dry soil and can easily be grown in parts of your garden that don’t always get water or that have a tendency to dry out quickly. If the soil in your garden is too dense, mixing in some perlite or another type of aerator would be best, in order to allow the soil to drain well.

Watering

Pineapples will need watering, but not too much. More when they are fruiting. The soil should be kept moist, but not wet. The great part about pineapples is that their leaves absorb water, and the middle of the plant, the rosette, holds water as well. Thus, a little water goes a long way. They will suffer more from over-watering than they will from under-watering.

Pruning

Pineapples do not require pruning, but the leaves can be trimmed to tidy up the plant if desired. Cutting the suckers will encourage the pineapple plant to keep making them, so if you want to grow a lot of pineapples, keep an eye on your plants and clip the suckers when they are a reasonable size, maybe about 3 to 4 inches tall. Pruning the slips, however, is vital to the growth of your pineapple fruit. Prune them as they grow if you want to direct all the plant’s energy towards growing the fruit. The suckers can be torn off gently with you hands. Just grab them from the bottom and snap them off. You can also snap off the slips or tear them off with you hands.

Harvesting and Storing

Pineapples can be harvested at any stage of ripeness, but they will taste best if they are allowed to ripen on the plant. The fruit can be picked when it is green or yellow, but it will continue to ripen after being harvested.

  • To harvest a pineapple, cut off the top of the fruit with a sharp knife
  • The fruit can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator
  • It also does very well frozen and will last for a few months, ready for a smoothie or to be blended into a marinade or sauce

Pests and Diseases

Pineapples are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, but they can be controlled with proper care. Some common problems include:

Aphids: These small insects suck the sap from the leaves and can cause the plant to become stunted. Control them by spraying the leaves with water or insecticidal soap.

Mealybugs: These pests attack the fruit and can cause it to rot. Control them by spraying the fruit with rubbing alcohol.

Black Rot: This disease is caused by a fungus and can kill the plant. Control it by removing affected leaves and spraying the plant with a fungicide.

If, on the other hand, your pineapples’ leaves start to turn a reddish or purplish colour, it means they either need more water or more nutrients. Do you best, but know that pineapples are hardy plants and will probably bounce back with a little help.

In the Kitchen

Food Uses

Pineapples can be eaten fresh, cooked, or canned. They are a good source of Vitamin C and can be used in many different dishes, both sweet and savory. Some of the most popular recipes include:

  • Pineapple upside down cake
  • Pineapple chicken
  • Pineapple salsa
  • Pineapple ice cream

Nutritional Benefits

Pineapples are a good source of Vitamin C and also contain vitamins A, B, and E. They are low in calories and fat-free.

Medicinal Uses

Pineapples have been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Some of the most popular uses include:

  • Treating coughs and colds
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Aiding digestion
  • Treating arthritis
  • Preventing constipation
  • Promoting weight loss

FAQ

Ripe Pineapple

How long does it take to grow a pineapple?

It takes about 18 months for a pineapple plant to mature and produce fruit. Depending on whether you planted from seed, sucker or slip, that time can extend by about six months or longer, if you are in a cooler climate.

How can I tell when a pineapple is ripe?

There are several ways to tell when a pineapple is ripe. The skin should be yellow or golden, and the fruit should be fragrant. You can also gently tug on the fruit – if it comes off easily, it is ripe.

Does the pineapple plant die after producing fruit?

Yes, the pineapple plant dies after producing a single fruit. However, along with the single pineapple it grows, the mother plant also make sucker and slips, out of which you can plant more pineapples.

About US

We are a family of avid gardeners, lost and then found again in the majestic landscape of the tropics. Each day, we try to share bits and pieces of our journey, so that you too, can possess the confidence and ease to grow your own food in a tropical climate.

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