I love plants, especially indoor plants. They bring me joy, most notably during the winter months. I am particularly fond of tropical and exotic plants and love the challenge of trying to grow them from seed. Whenever I eat a tropical fruit like a mango or papaya, I see the seeds as baby plants waiting to come out. Although many times, trying to get them to grow doesn’t turn out as planned and is definitely an exercise in patience, it is still a fun thing to try.
There is one particular fruit that not only is incredibly delicious but you also get a tropical plant for free when you buy it. That fruit, if you haven’t guessed by the post title, is a Pineapple! Pineapples are just wonderful fruit, they are so sweet and go perfectly on a fruit platter, in a drink (Pina Colada, etc), in cakes (pineapple upside-down cake, etc) and also cooked (Grilled Pineapple, etc).
Let me explain this free plant thing. Pineapples have seeds like other fruits and you can most definitely get them to germinate and become a pineapple plant, but that is not what I’m talking about. I will explain how to use the crown (the leafy top) of the fruit to get things going.
Pineapple plants are very tropical looking and are surprisingly easy to take care of. If you occasionally buy pineapples at your grocery store don’t throw that leafy top away so fast. Use it to get your free pineapple plant.
Buying the Fruit
For the best chance at propagation success, start by choosing a fresh pineapple at the store. Look for a pineapple that is not overly ripe or wilted. Tug on one of the leaves and it should have some resistance before you can ‘pop’ it out. If it just pulls out, the fruit might be great for immediate eating, but not for replanting.
Once you get home, remove the crown of the pineapple. With one hand holding the fruit body and the other holding the leafy top, use a twisting motion and the crown will easily separate.
You will see small spiky leaves at the base of the crown. Start gently peeling them off one-by-one. As you do this, you will start exposing stringy roots. Don’t peel off too much of the bottom.
Set the crown aside and allow to dry for a day or two. Some people claim that allowing to dry for up to a week is ok, but I usually don’t wait that long.
Rooting the Pineapple
After drying, you could plant it directly into a light soil, but I prefer getting it to root in water. Take a drinking glass filled with enough water to submerge the exposed roots when the pineapple crown is placed into it. Keep it in a bright area but under indirect light. The roots should start growing out into the water within a week or two. Top off the water to maintain the proper level to keep the roots submerged and if it starts getting cloudy, replace with fresh water.
If after a few weeks, the roots haven’t extended out and the crown has wilted, then the plant is probably not going to make it. It happens, but I’m guessing my success rate is probably 75%.
When the roots are long enough, around 2-3″, it’s a good time to transfer the plant into
Be gentle with the roots while planting to prevent damaging them. Heavily water the plant in and ensure there is enough soil to support the plant.
Once the pineapple plant settles in and starts growing, it is pretty hearty. Over time, you will notice the new, fresh leaves emerging from the center of the plant, but they can even come out between existing leaves.
It’s a pretty resilient plant, so even if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs, you’ll do ok with it. The root system doesn’t need much space, but the leaves can grow to impressively large sizes, so as it grows, you may need to re-pot to keep it stable.
It’s that simple. With a bit of patience, your free pineapple plant will grow successfully.
Bonus – Getting a Free Pineapple Fruit
If you take good care of your pineapple plant, it is possible for it to actually produce another pineapple fruit. Unless you are living the perfect climate for pineapples, it will take at least a couple of years of growing before this is possible.
I’ve had a couple of my plants actually mature to the point that it attempts to fruit, but it is difficult. If all goes well, the plant will bloom and then a pineapple fruit will appear. If this doesn’t happen, you can actually coerce it to bloom. If it is exposed to ethylene gas, it can promote blooming. You can accomplish this by putting the plant, together with ripe apples into a sealed bag for about a week. As the apple rots, ethylene gas will be released.
With some luck, you’ll have a small, cute pineapple fruit growing out of your plant and develop into another delicious fruit.
This is a fun thing to do with kids. Although it takes patience, they can really be proud that the plant is something they grew. My kids have always enjoyed doing this.
I hope you try this one day and I’d love to hear your experience with it.