Pineapple Plant: Complete Care and Growing Guide (With Pictures)

how to plant a pineapple

Pineapple plants can be easily grown just by planting the pineapple tops in soil. The pineapple top grows into a bushy plant. If you get growing conditions right, the pineapple plant flowers and a pineapple fruit eventually appears. Pineapples can grow in pots indoors, or if you live in warmer climates it can grow outdoors in your garden.

Pineapple plants (Ananas comosus) are perennial tropical shrubs in the plant family Bromeliaceae. Pineapple shrubs have tough, waxy leaves that grow in a rosette pattern. A mature pineapple plant produces a single fruit on the end of a long stem in the center.

This article is a complete guide to growing pineapples in your backyard or pots indoors. You’ll be surprised to learn how easy it is to grow your own pineapple plants.

Do Pineapples Grow on Trees?

A close up picture of pineapple plants

A close up picture of pineapple plants

Pineapples don’t grow on trees, even though fruit typically grows on trees. Pineapples are juicy, tropical fruits that grow on shrubby plants close to the ground. Each pineapple plant only grows one pineapple at a time. After producing its fruit, the leafy shrub dies.

How Do Pineapples Grow

Pineapple fruits grow on the top of stiff stems that emerge from the center of the bromeliad plant. The pineapple fruit is a fusion of up to 200 individual flowers. The pineapple flowers develop into berries that form the yellow-fleshed juicy fruit.

A close-up picture of pineapple flower that develops into a fruit

The pineapple flower develops into a fruit

Pineapples are known for their crown of stiff, spiky leaves.

The pineapple’s crown can be rooted and grown as a pineapple plant. To grow a new pineapple plant, you only need to cut off the top of the pineapple fruit and plant it in soil. Very soon, a new pineapple plant will start to grow.

Pineapple plants also grow plantlets at the plant’s base called slips and side shoots called suckers that grow between the spiky tough leaves. The small slips and suckers are generally used to grow pineapples on a commercial scale. If you have a mature pineapple plant, you can also use suckers and slips for planting.

Pineapple suckers

Pineapple suckers (circled in red) can be used to grow pineapple

Pineapples may occasionally produce seeds. However, pineapple seeds are not used to grow the plant. Pineapple plants generally produce seedless fruits, and new plants grow from suckers or pineapple tops.

Pineapple seeds

Pineapple seeds

Pineapple plants are native to the tropics in South America. Pineapples grow in Costa Rica, Brazil, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and India.

For pineapples to thrive, they need plenty of sunshine and grow in acidic, well-draining soil. Pineapple plants don’t like frost, so if you grow pineapples in colder climates, you should overwinter the potted plant indoors.

How Long Do Pineapples Take to Grow

It takes between 18 and 24 months for pineapple plants to flower and then produce fruit. Pineapples grow fastest from suckers and will fruit within a year to a year and a half. Tops take about two years to fruit. However, in colder climates, pineapples take longer to grow.

After planting a pineapple crown, it takes around eight weeks for roots to grow. Over the next 18 or so months, sword-shaped leaves grow around the central stem. The plant is ready to flower when it has around 70 leaves. After flowering, the fruit takes six months to ripen.

To tell when a pineapple is ready, gently squeeze the fruit. The spiky shell should be firm, yet slightly soft. Also, the base of the growing fruit should give off a sweet aroma. Pineapples don’t continue to ripen after harvesting, so wait until it’s ripe before cutting off the fruit.

How to Grow a Pineapple Plant

Pineapple suckers

Pineapple shoots ready for planting

The easiest way to grow a pineapple plant is by growing its spiky top in soil. You can also remove suckers that grow in between the pineapple plant’s leaves. On a mature plant, pick off the small plantlets (shoots) or slips around the base of the pineapple fruit.

Whatever method you use to grow a pineapple plant, put the crown, sucker, pups, or slips in a pot that has well-draining loamy soil, water thoroughly, and put in a sunny location.

How to Grow Pineapples from Tops

Here’s how to grow a pineapple plant from the crown:

  1. Slice off the spiky top of the pineapple fruit so that there’s no fruit flesh on its base.
  2. Remove the small bottom leaves from around the base of the pineapple crown.
  3. leave the pineapple top to dry for a day or two. This allows the cut end to callous and helps the pineapple plant to grow better and reduce the risk of root rot.
  4. Dig a small hole in ground and plant the little pineapple.

How to Plant Pineapple Tops

Grow new pineapple plants in a light, aerated potting mix. To make an appropriate potting mix, combine equal amounts of sand and perlite. Plant the pineapple top so that it’s up to the base of the leaves in the potting mix. Thoroughly water the pineapple plant and put it in a sunny spot, protected from direct sunlight.

Over the next few weeks—until roots appear—keep the soil moist, but not overly damp. After about six to eight weeks, roots should start to develop. Once the pineapple plant has roots, it needs more light—at least six hours daily. Only water the pineapple when the soil has dried out.

Once roots develop, you can transfer the pineapple plant to a sunny outdoor location. Or you can continue to grow your pineapple in a container.

Growing pineapples from tops is a slow process. It takes up to 24 months for the pineapple plant to mature, flower, then fruit. Remember never to let your pineapple plant sit in soggy, waterlogged soil; otherwise, the roots can rot, and your plant will die.

It’s not necessary to root pineapple tops in water. You can plant the crown directly in light, sandy soil to root and grow.

How to Grow Pineapple From Suckers

You can grow pineapple plants from suckers if you have an established plant. Cut off the suckers, remove the lower leaves, and allow the wound to dry for a few days. Then plant the pineapple sucker in light, loamy soil and water thoroughly.

You’ll find the suckers or slips growing in among the leaves. Wait until the suckers are about 4” to 6” (10 – 15 cm) before pulling them off. The plant will continue to produce suckers that you can use to grow more pineapples.

Pineapple Plant Care Guide

Pineapples thrive in warm conditions between 68°F and 86°F (20°C – 30°C). Pineapple plants grow best when they get at least six hours of sunlight daily. Grow pineapple plants in a light, well-draining soil and water only when the soil dries out. Growing indoors, pineapples need plenty of humidity.

Pineapple Plant Light (Sun) Requirements

Pineapple plants need plenty of sunshine to grow well. Grow pineapple plants in the sunniest spot in your garden. Ideally, pineapples need between six and eight hours of sunlight daily. You can also grow pineapples in dappled shade. If you’re growing a potted pineapple indoors, ensure it’s near a south-facing window.

It’s vital to remember that pineapples grow best outside in warm sunshine. In colder climates, you may have to bring the pot indoors to protect it from frost. However, make sure that it gets enough sunlight so that it flowers and produces fruit.

Best Soil for Growing Pineapple Plants

Grow pineapple plant in well-drained soil that is light and aerated. A mixture of sand, perlite, and some organic matter is ideal for bromeliads, such as pineapples. However, pineapples don’t need particularly fertile soil to grow. The most critical factor affecting pineapple growth is that water drains freely to prevent root rot.

Because pineapples don’t have an extensive root system, they grow best in sandy soil. A type of soil mix for cactus or succulent plants is ideal. If the growing medium is too dense or has too much clay, work in perlite and coarse sand to amend the soil.

How to Water a Pineapple Plant

Allow soil to dry out between watering pineapple plants. Pineapples have tough leaves that don’t lose moisture through evaporation. Also, the center of the plant’s spiky foliage acts like a cup that stores water. Only ever water a pineapple plant if the soil is dry, and the foliage “cup” is empty.

When it comes to watering pineapple plants, it’s vital to remember that less is more. Overwatering a pineapple can cause its small root system to rot quickly.

If your pineapple plant is growing in a container, poke your finger about 3” (7.5 cm) into the soil. If the potting mix is completely dry, then you can thoroughly water your plant. If there are any hints of moisture, hold off watering the plant until the soil dries.

Temperature Requirements for Growing Pineapple Plants

The optimal temperature range for growing pineapples is 68°F to 86° (20°C – 30°C). Generally, pineapples don’t grow well in cold temperatures below 60°F (15°C) or hot temperatures above 90°F (32°C). Frost and freezing temperatures below 28°F (-2°C) will kill pineapple plants.

Pineapple plants grow in USDA zones 10 and 11. If you live in colder climates, you can grow pineapples indoors during the fall, winter, and early spring. However, you should move them to a sunny spot in your garden when average temperatures are above 60°F (15°C).

Pineapple Plant Fertilizer

Pineapple plants don’t require much fertilization. You can use a very diluted organic liquid fertilizer containing seaweed extract or fish emulsion. Apply the fertilizer once in spring and then in summer. You can also sprinkle chicken manure pellets near the base of the plant. However, pineapples can grow well in infertile soil.

It’s vital to remember that concentrated artificial fertilizers can burn pineapples. So, the best advice is to stay away from fertilizers when growing pineapples.

To ensure pineapple plants get the right nutrients, work in compost into the ground before planting your pineapple. After planning the pineapple, apply a thick layer of bark mulch around the plant—leaving a few inches of bare ground around the stem. The nutrients feed the plant, and the organic matter breaks down to feed your pineapple.

Pineapple Plant Flower

Pineapple flowers start to grow on the end of a long straight stem about 18 to 24 months after planting. The flowers on a pineapple grow as a spiky growth cluster in the classic pineapple shape. The individual flowers fuse to create a pineapple.

From flowering, it takes about six months until the fruit is ripe.

Pineapples only flower once before dying.

When Do Pineapples Fruit?

The length of time it takes from planting until pineapple fruit is ready varies. Under optimal conditions, fruit can be ready in 16 months. Growing pineapples from suckers produces fruit in about 18 months but from tops—about 24 months. Pineapples growing in colder climates may take longer than two years to fruit.

When are Pineapples Ripe?

Pineapples must ripen on the stem. So, you need to pick them at the right time if you want to enjoy its tangy tropical taste. The fruit’s skin should start to turn yellow when it’s ripe. The fruit should give a little when you squeeze it but still be firm. You should also detect a sweet aroma from the base of the fruit.

After you have enjoyed eating the pineapple, cut off its top, and grow a new plant.

Pineapple Growing Tips

Pineapples are fun and easy to grow from their tops. After you grow one plant from the crown, you can regularly harvest suckers and slips from a mature pineapple plant. You can soon have plenty of juicy pineapples growing in your backyard.

Here are some handy tips for growing pineapples successfully:

  • Take suckers or slips from pineapple plants that produce the largest, juiciest fruits.
  • The best pineapple plants are those that grow lowest to the ground.
  • Pineapples have a small root system. This means you can easily dig them up and transplant them.
  • Plant suckers in a nursery bed close together. When the small pineapple plants reach 12” (30 cm) tall, transplant them to another location to give them more room to grow.
  • The easiest type of pineapple to grow it the “Smooth Cayenne” variety.
  • Look for unusual types of pineapples in the store to plant in your garden. Varieties of pineapple include ‘smooth cayenne’, red Spanish pineapples, and pineapples with variegated leaves.
  • Pineapples grow well in containers but choose a big enough container for it to grow large.
  • Be patient because it can take over two years for a pineapple to fruit.

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