Pineapple plants (Ananas comosus) can be started from pineapple fruit tops, slips, which are small plants that develop just beneath the fruits, or suckers, which develop lower on the plants. Plant in summer for the best results. Two or three years after you plant, the pineapples should produce fruits. Even without fruits, though, the plants feature large, swordlike leaves that are a noticeable addition to the landscape.
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Choosing Where to Plant
Whether you plant fruit tops, slips or suckers, your new pineapple plants need to have some basic requirements met in order to thrive:
- It’s not too cold. Pineapple plants are likely to die when the temperature gets below 28 degrees Fahrenheit. They grow best in temperatures of 68 to 86 degrees. Pineapples are grow as perennials in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11.
- Their soil is loose, sandy loam that goes down for at least 2 feet, with a good mix of organic matter throughout.
- The soil pH level is not below 4.5 or over 6.5.
- The planting spot gets full sunlight.
- The area has good drainage.
- They each have enough room. Space them 1 to 3 feet apart. Spacing them even farther apart will allow the plants to get bigger, resulting in larger fruits.
- They are at least 5 feet from buildings, trees and other sources of shade. The more direct sun exposure they get, the better the plants will grow.
Preparing Fruit Tops for Planting
A simple way to start growing pineapple plants is to use the tops of pineapple fruits.
Slice off the top section of each pineapple fruit, cutting about 1/2 inch below the leafy part.
- Use a knife that was sterilized by soaking a clean knife in a solution made from 1 teaspoon bleach mixed with 1 quart of water. Leave the knife in the solution for one minute, and then place it on a paper towel and let the air dry it.
2. Remove the outer part of each fruit top carefully, leaving only the center portion, which is still attached to the leaves.
- Pull or cut off the lower leaves.
- Place the trimmed fruit tops in a safe place to dry for a few days. Doing so prevents rotting.
- Plant each fruit top in a plant pot filled with vermiculite or perlite, or use coarse sand if you prefer. Ensure each plant pot has bottom drainage holes.
- Water the fruit tops well immediately after planting them. Afterward, keep the rooting medium damp but not soaked until the tops develop roots, which takes about two months.
- Keep the potted fruit tops in an area that has bright but indirect light for the first two or three weeks after planting. Move them to a window that gets bright sunlight until they have roots.
Planting Fruit Tops
When the pineapple fruit tops have roots, they are ready to be moved to their permanent home outdoors or to a larger container. Dig a hole about 3 inches wide for each rooted fruit top, and loosen the soil to a depth of about 4 to 6 inches. Set each rooted top at a depth of 2 inches in its respective hole, and fill the area around it with soil to hold it in place, placing soil up to the bottom of the leaves.
Planting Slips and Suckers
Slips and suckers are tiny versions of the parent pineapple plant that produced them. They can be removed from the parent plant by carefully detaching them at their bases with a sharp, sterilized knife. When planting slips or suckers, set them 3 1/2 to 4 inches deep in loose soil in a hole 2 to 3 inches wide. Fill the holes with soil to the level of the surrounding ground.
Caring for the New Plants
Water your just-planted pineapple plants well, and then allow them and the soil to drain. Pineapple plants can withstand very dry conditions, but new plants should be watered at least once each week if the soil is very dry.
Fertilize new plants once every two months with dry fertilizer that is 6 to 10 percent nitrogen, 6 to 10 percent phosphoric acid, 6 to 10 percent potash and 4 to 6 percent magnesium, such as a 10-10-10 fertilizer that contains 6 percent magnesium. Give each plant 2 ounces or fewer of this mixture, placing the fertilizer in a small hole about 4 inches deep and located 3 inches from the plant.