If you regularly buy and eat fresh pineapple, why not try growing your own fruit from the remains of your old ones, rather than just throwing them away? This technique shows you how to grow a pineapple from the crown of an old one and makes a great project with rewarding and delicious results!
Buying a pineapple
To start your pineapple growing project, you’ll need the remains of another pineapple fruit. Choose one with firm, green leaves free of grey spots or signs of insect damage.
Prepare the crown for planting
Before you cut up and eat the pineapple, remove the spikey part, known as the crown. This is the part of the pineapple which you’ll be planting. Grab the leaves firmly, pull and twist. They should come out with a small amount of stalk attached. If any pineapple flesh is still attached, remove with a knife, as it may rot and cause problems for the rest of the plant whilst growing. The remaining body of the pineapple can now be cut up, cored or prepared for eating as normal.
Use a knife to thinly cut away at the bottom of the stalk. The flesh of this stalk covers up the roots of the pineapple plant, which need to be uncovered. Be careful when you cut the flesh and try and remove only what is needed in order to expose the roots, to avoid unnecessary damage to the stalk.
In a similar way, cut away some of the lower leaves of the pineapple’s crown. This will expose further budding roots which will grow from the stem once planted. The leaves themselves are of no real use as these will gradually rot away once the pineapple begins to grow.
Once stripped down, allow the crown to spend a couple of days drying.
Encourage root growth
To encourage roots to grow from the base of the crown, it will need to spend some time soaking in water. Place the crown in the top of a clear glass (the leaves should hold it in place) and fill it up so that the bottom of the crown is submerged in water. Leave for around 3 weeks in moderate conditions- no direct sunlight, draughts or heat sources. After 3 weeks, you should have started to notice new root growth.
Plant your pineapple crown
Once the roots have emerged, it’s time to plant your pineapple crown. Use a plant pot around 8 inches in diameter, and quick draining, sandy soil. Line the bottom of the pot with stones or gravel to improve drainage further, before filling with soil and planting. If you live in a temperate climate (such as the UK) your plant will need to spend the colder months indoors, but can be kept on a sunny patio or doorstep during the summer.
At this point you will need to be patient. Keep watering so that the soil is moist, but not saturated. Your plant will be continuing to develop roots underneath the surface of the soil, though you may not see much progress above ground.
Around 2 months into the process, the crown should hopefully have taken root and be growing as an independent plant. You can check on its progress by giving it a little tug in the soil. If it resists your attempts to move it, it will have a strong network of roots in the soil holding it in place. If it wobbles a little, it just needs some more time.
Watching your plant’s progress
For the next year, your plant will remain in this pot, so make sure it is watered frequently and watch out for signs of rot. The leaves from the original pineapple should start to turn brown, whilst new ones grow underneath. Remove these dead, brown leaves to allow room for the new ones to emerge healthily.
You may find that after around 12 months of growth, your plant has outgrown its pot. Fill a larger pot (around 12 inches in diameter) with a layer of gravel and the same, fast draining soil. Carefully remove the plant and soil from the old pot and replant, firming the looser soil around it. This process may need repeating again in another year’s time if the plant’s roots continue to grow, so watch for signs of your plant being too cramped in its conditions.
Your pineapple plant won’t start to produce fruit until it reaches around 20 months. At this point, you should notice it begin to flower in its centre. Over the next few months, the petals of the flower will grow, then shrink and dry. At this point, the fruit itself begins to develop, going from a hard green bud to a ripe fruit over around 6 months. Once the fruit appears golden in colour from its centre upwards, it is ripe and ready to eat.
You may find that your pineapple plant does not readily produce fruit. If this is the case, there are many ways of forcing fruit to be produced. There are a number of online resources which will go into detail about this process.
Image sourced: Poco a pocotagspineapplesustainable food