Pineapple plants

Question: Could you please tell me how to grow a pineapple plant (Ananas comosus) from a store-bought fruit?
-Fairfield, Calif.

Answer: Yes I can, but before I do, I would like to warn you of two things.  First, you should expect A. comosus to grow quite large, about three to four feet high and wide.  Second, it may take three or four years to form a fruit.  But with plenty of room and some patience, growing a pineapple from start to finish can be a memorable experience.

Begin by cutting off the crown – the spiny foliage on top of the fruit – with about an inch of flesh attached.  Place the crown upright on a cutting board and square off the base by trimming the soft fruit away from the hard core.  Then allow the cut area to dry out and callus over or a day or two before you plant it.

Plant the crown up to the first set of lower leaves in a six-inch pot.  Use a well-drained, aerated potting mix.  Equal parts of potting soil, peat moss, and coarse sand are ideal.  (Once the plant begins to gain weight and girth and needs to be repotted, you may use perlite instead of sand.)  After watering the pineapple, put the pot and all in a plastic bag, seal it off at the top with a twist tie, and place it where it will receive bright, indirect light.  It should root in about six to eight weeks.  At that point, remove the bag and place the plant in direct sunlight.

The cultural requirements for A comosus are pretty straightforward.  When it is actively growing, water it generously pouring the water into the leaf rosette as well.  Allow the soil nearly to dry out between waterings.  During the hottest days of summer, mist the plant with warm water.  Feed it monthly with a balances liquid houseplant fertilizer.  Look for signs of cramped roots; repot when they completely fill the container.

During the winter, protect the plant from freezing temperatures.  Water sparingly and fertilize ever other month during this rest period.  Maintain a humid environment by continuing to mist the plant or b resting the pot on a pebble-filled tray of water.

After three or four years of care, expect your plant to reward you with a cluster of violet flowers followed by pint-size pineapple.

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