In 2008, when I was working at a preschool, the lead teacher decided to grow a pineapple houseplant. She was leading a unit on plants and thought it would be neat to grow the top of a pineapple in the classroom. She sliced off the top at the “shoulders” and placed it with some ceremony on top of a pot of soil. Some weeks later, when the leaves began to brown and the base began to mold, we realized our experiment had been unsuccessful. That was the wrong way to do it.
The experience stayed in the back of my mind, however, and one day when I had three pineapples sitting on my kitchen counter I decided to research how to do it correctly. I have currently four pineapple plants in various rooms of my house; the oldest is about a year old.
Here’s how you grow a pineapple houseplant
1) Before you get excited, don’t just wantonly slice off the top of that pineapple. It is better to pull the top out. This may require a tiny bit of elbow grease. You can put the top off to the side while you prepare and eat the rest of the fruit. 2) Gently trim off any excess flesh that came off with the top – this can rot and cause the rest of the plant to die. Then pluck off leaves from the base until about an inch is bare and exposed. You may see little nubby things – those are little rootlets.Let the pineapple top sit in a dry location for a week or so. If you place it immediately in water it could rot.
3) Place it the top in a jar of water. Be patient – you are waiting for roots to form. It can take up to a month or even longer for a decent root system to develop. The plant pictured here has been growing roots for about two weeks. You might think that these are pretty good roots, but I am going to wait until the plant has about three times as many roots before transferring it to a pot of soil. 4) Only then the roots are long and plentiful enough should you transfer the pineapple top to a pot of soil. If you act prematurely, your plant won’t grow and will eventually die. Here’s a plant I’ve had for about a year: That flower pot is about 18 inches in diameter; you can see that it is pretty sprawling. I admit that this one is a little sad-looking, and that is for good reason: I have three young kids and they are very talented at tampering with house plants. Which is why I tried growing them from pineapples in the first place. If it bites the dust, I will have lost the time and effort it took to grow it, but I will have saved the $20 or so it takes to buy a decent ficus from Home Depot.
I am still a newbie when it comes to the art of growing pineapple houseplants. My four healthy plants are the result of eight attempts, thus a 50% rate of success. (Once I let a pineapple top spend too much time drying out and instead of hardening against rot, it just died. Another time, I planted it in dirt before it had a chance to develop enough roots.) It is my understanding that, given the right conditions, a pineapple houseplant will flower and produce a fruit. I am very intrigued by this possibility, but must admit that I doubt that the right conditions exist in my living room.
I hope this short tutorial will inspire you to give it a whirl!
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