Everyone loves a good experiment in the greenhouse. Trying to grow something new is an exciting adventure. Have you ever attempted to grow a pineapple in the greenhouse? Have you ever eaten a ripe pineapple? Did you know that pineapples do not grow on trees, but rather can be grown in a container? This is a little-known fact and people visiting your greenhouse will be amazed to see a pineapple growing your greenhouse.
How to Start
Begin at the grocery store by looking for a pineapple with a really, green top. The greener the top, the better chance you will have of the top taking root. When you get the fruit home, chop off the top like you would normally do. Then remove the flesh from the bottom of the stem. Cut off all the fruit possible which keeps the plant from rotting and attracting bugs.
Next you have two options: either place the pineapple top in soil, or in water. One is not better than the other. I have around a 50% success rate for getting the stem to “take” trying both methods and each can work or fail. After several attempts I tend to stick with soil because the water needs to be changed frequently and can become a bit smelly if all the fruit was not removed. I typically start with a 4-6” container, filled with potting soil. All you do is stick the stem in the soil, just deep enough for it to stay balanced.
Now you wait for the plant to take root. Within the week you will see if the plant is going to die because it shrivels up and turns brown. If it doesn’t do this, chances are good it will take. If you opted for the water method, wait until you see roots growing out the bottom of the stem and then place it in a container with soil. After the pineapple has been planted, keep the soil moist and the temperatures warm. When the plant takes root, it will start to grow new leaves.
This requires patience. Continue to water the pineapple and watch it grow. You can fertilize it if you want, but my pineapples were definitely underfed and they still did fine. The greenhouse temperatures are around 70 degrees in winter and 80 over summer. I have heard you can even grow a pineapple on a windowsill in your house if you have the space. You can also grow a pineapple directly in the soil if you have raised beds and have space. When the pineapple is fully grown it will measure around three feet wide in a container and closer to four feet wide in the ground. It takes a minimum of eighteen months for the pineapple to create a fruit.
You will notice an odd formation growing deep in the leaves of the pineapple plant. It will be round and textured and is the start of the pineapple. This flower will rise out of the plant and develop a stem, then proceed to fatten. You will notice little pink or red tendrils on the plant which open to create the ridges of the pineapple. As the pineapple grows, continue watering it. It will take around six months from the time the pineapple flowers to the time it ripens.
The pineapple will cease growing and then start to ripen. As the fruit ripens, you will find a second plant growing in the same container. The first plant will stop growing after the fruit is harvested and the next pineapple will take over to produce another fruit. It takes about three months for the pineapple to ripen after it has reached full size. You will notice that the pineapple turns a golden yellow color and then it is time to harvest. Cut the fruit off the stem and eat it. The fruit is much sweeter than ones found in the grocery store because it is allowed to fully ripen. Enjoy the wonderful tasting pineapple, then take the remaining top, plant it, and continue the cycle.
Lyndsey Roth is an experienced gardener and greenhouse grower.