Not only is growing pineapples ridiculously easy. Growing pineapple plants is possible just about anywhere in the world.
That's because the pineapple plant is one of the few tropical fruits that are really well suited to growing in pots, and that means you can grow pineapple plants indoors.
Having said that, to grow good pineapple fruit (and in reasonable amounts) you need to live somewhere that is warm and sunny year round. Below we will talk about how to grow pineapples outdoors to get lots of fruit.
I love pineapples. I love the fruit, I love the plant itself and its spectacular flower, and once you have a few pineapples... Well, they multiply like rabbits, so if you grow pineapples you eventually end up with lots of them.
I grow lots of pineapples in my garden. If you plant them in the right spot they need virtually no care whatsoever.
But let's start at the start. Here's all you ever wanted to know about growing pineapples (and then some).
Growing Pineapples Is Easy
This page summarises all the essential information about growing pineapples. It's best to read this first. It may be all you need.
More Pineapple Growing
Your pineapple tops are planted and doing well, now you need to know how to look after and multiply your pineapples. Learn how to propagate using slips and suckers and find pineapple growing tips and strategies.
Pineapples And Permaculture
Ideas, tips and tricks for growing pineapples in a permaculture garden.
Growing pineapples is easy if you get the basics right.
But first of all, here are a few pictures of pineapple plants for those who don't know what they look like:
Above are some young pineapple plants of two different varieties. The second one is called Smooth Cayenne, a variety that is grown commercially. I am not sure what the first one is called. It is a smaller plant, with even spikier leaves, and very sweet, small fruit.
The next photo shows a mature pineapple plant from the top.
The last photo shows a fruiting plant. The fruit stem emerges from the middle of the plant and you get one pineapple per plant.
What pineapples do not like is
You can get started several ways. Most people will start using the top of a shop bought pineapple. If you know someone who grows pineapples you may also be able to beg, steal or buy some "suckers", "pups" or "slips", little plantlets taken of a mature pineapple plant. (I will tell you more about those later on.)
Don't put the little thing in a glass of water. I don't know where people get the idea that everything needs to be started in a glass of water. Really, that's nonsense. In the case of pineapple tops it's actually better to let it cure or dry for a day or two before planting.
If you use tops make sure you remove all the fruit flesh. The stem that is left needs to be bare, dry and clean. Shop bought pineapples may already have a bit of rot in that stem. Cut it out if you can, and if not, use another top. I'll say it again because it is so important: the end of the stem should be dry! Leave your cleaned top on the bench for a day or two if needed.
You should also remove all the small bottom leaves. Just pull them off. The same goes for suckers. If they are very small or have dead leaves at the bottom, pull the bottom leaves off. You may find little roots growing in between them already.
Now just make a small hole in the ground or in a pot and stick your little pineapple in that.
Push the soil back in and firm it around the base so the pineapple sits straight and doesn't fall over. If the soil is dry give it some water.
And that's it. It'll grow.
The roots don't need much space but the plant itself can grow to an impressive size.
Pineapple leaves are very spiky, so make sure you put them in a place where they can spread without becoming a nuisance.
They are nice to grow in clumps if you have room, or as a (wide) border along paths or driveways.
Plant them at a distance of about a foot (that's pretty close but it's what I do anyway), and expect individual healthy plants to measure up to a metre across and a metre high.
Basically, it doesn't matter.
If you live in an area where water is scarce just give them what you can spare. Pineapples grow with very little water. Make sure your soil is thickly mulched to reduce evaporation and consider growing pineapples under a bit of shade.
(This of course depends on the climate you live in. The closer to tropical or sub-tropical your area is, the more shade your pineapples can handle. If you live in a climate where you have to grow pineapples indoors during winter then they will need all the sun they can get in summer.)
If you have lots of water, great. It's okay to always have water sitting in the rosette in the middle of the plant. Everything extra will just run off and drain away. But it is a waste and you should avoid overwatering.
However, it is important that excess water can drain away quickly. Don't try growing them in a bog hole.
Pineapples take up a lot of their nutrition through their leaves, and the first few months after planting they rely only on their leaves. You should make sure the plant food actually lands on the leaves.
If you use artificial and concentrated fertilisers you will burn your pineapple, so stay away from them. You should stay away from them anyway. They generally do more harm than good.
You can use liquid fertilisers like fish emulsion or seaweed extract. Make a very diluted solution and just use a watering can to put it on the pineapple plant and the surrounding soil.
If you use something like pelleted chicken manure sprinkle it on the soil very close to the base of the pineapple plant (remember, very small root system) and make sure a bit falls into the bottom leaves.
The best way by far is of course a natural and organic solution that does not require you to buy anything.
Mix compost in with your soil before you plant the pineapple, and then mulch thickly around it.
You end up with mulch and compost sitting in the bottom leaves, and as it breaks down it feeds the plant.
The colour of the leaves of your pineapple plant will tell you how well you are doing. If they have a reddish, purple tinge then your pineapple is starving and you should help it a bit.
Don't panic, they are hard to kill. I rarely manage to avoid that purple tinge on them in the first few months. They grow out of it. But keep in mind that you do get bigger, tastier and juicier fruit from a well fed pineapple plant. You also get it quicker...
Um, when they're ready.
It depends on the variety, on your climate, how well you look after them, and it depends whether you plant tops, suckers/pups or slips.
Growing pineapples from tops of shop bought pineapples can seem to take forever. Tops take about 24 months to fruit (even longer in colder climates).
Suckers take about 18 months and slips can fruit within a year.
Generally a pineapple will flower as soon as it is big enough, so the happier it is and the better you look after it the sooner it will flower. If you grow pineapples outside their ideal (tropical) range they take longer.
Once a pineapple flowers you have to wait for another six month for the fruit to mature. Growing pineapples for fruit sure is a long term investment.
The fruit is ready to pick when it starts to turn yellow. If you have four legged marauders, or if it looks like the fruit is getting sunburned, cut it now and leave it on the kitchen bench for a few days.
Otherwise leave it on the plant until it's fully ripe and yellow. Cut it, eat it and plant the top :-).
Once you have the first few pineapples growing it gets easier and faster. A mature pineapple plant produces lots of offspring and the suckers and slips fruit a lot quicker.
If you have enough space you can theoretically have hundreds of them within a few years. And then it doesn't matter anymore how long it takes for any of them. There will always be some of them fruiting.
Next: Learn how to propagate using slips and suckers and find pineapple growing tips and strategies.