The plant consists of stocky leaves whorled around a central stem. In a healthy pineapple plant, the tapered, swordlike leaves can grow up to about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long.
When removed, the crown of the pineapple fruit contains small roots. If it’s planted into the ground (or a pot), a new fruit-producing plant will grow.
The pineapple fruit grows out of the top of the central stem. The fruit is actually the result of dozens of individual fruit-producing flowers that have fused into a single fruit, which is capped with a “crown” sporting numerous short leaves.
Unlike most fruits, pineapples are not grown from seeds. Common commercial varieties of pineapples are “self-incompatible,” meaning that the plants’ pollen cannot fertilize members of the same variety. So unless different varieties are grown next to one another and flower simultaneously, the plant will produce a seedless fruit that develops without fertilization.
Contrary to what some people think, pineapples don’t grow on trees — they grow out of the ground, from a leafy plant.
Photo by: Shutterstock/EQRoy
Photo by: Maiapassarak/Shutterstock
Pineapple plants may be available in your local garden center or there are also sources online. When growing pineapples, remember that their roots do not like to stay wet. In fact, they like similar soil conditions as cacti: well drained and on the dry side, but with an acidic pH of 4.5-6.5. To determine when to water, the soil should be dry and you should check inside the junctions where the leaves meet the plant. If there is water in those little pockets, then skip watering. If there is no water, then water over the top of the plant. Fertilize monthly with a balanced liquid fertilizer (5-5-5, 10-10-10, etc.) mixed according to the manufacturer’s directions, and showered over the plant just like a normal watering.
Pineapples aren’t hard to grow but they do take a time commitment; depending on the method, it may be several years until the plant flowers and produces fruit. If you want to grow your own pineapples, there are three ways to get started. The first and cheapest method is to start from the green top of a fresh grocery store pineapple. Second, you could purchase a pineapple plant and grow it until it produces fruit . The third and hardest option is to try growing a pineapple plant from seed.
9 Plants You Can Start From Kitchen Scraps
Learn three methods of growing pineapples, including from grocery store fruit. Plus, get pineapple planting and growing tips for outdoors and indoors, in-ground and in containers.
Starting a pineapple from a green top is possibly the cheapest and easiest way to begin. Buy a well-ripened fruit with the healthiest looking top you can find. Some rough leaves are okay, but try to find the best one of the lot. Simply remove the top by grasping the fruit in one hand and the top in the other and twisting it off in one steady motion (like wringing out a towel). Remove the lower half dozen or so leaves from the bottom of the green shoot, then set it aside and allow it to "cure," or dry out, for about a week. Set the top in a shallow bowl of warm water. Change the water every few days, and observe as roots grow over the next few weeks. Then plant the cured pineapple top in a 10-inch pot filled with a coarse potting mix, and fertilize it with a balanced liquid fertilizer (shower the liquid right over the top). The plant will grow indoors like a tropical houseplant with moderate light and can be moved outdoors in warm weather.
A small pineapple grows from a plant stalk in a garden.
Method 1: Starting a Pineapple From a Top Cutting
To start a pineapple from seed, you will first have to obtain the seed. Occasionally there will be seeds in a store-bought pineapple. Buy a yellow-ripe fruit. As you cut the fruit, look for the small black seeds about three-eighths of an inch in from the outside edge. Rinse the seeds. Germinate the seeds by lightly wrapping them in a wet paper towel and placing it in a plastic zipper bag. Keep the bag in a constantly warm (65-75 degrees F) place. It takes about six months for the seeds to sprout, at which time the baby plants can be carefully planted in temporary growing containers (1-2 quart size) where they can be babied until they are large enough to plant in the garden or a permanent larger pot.