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Pineapple (photo courtesy of Jerry Pavia)
Pineapple (photo courtesy of Jerry Pavia)

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Zone
Zones 24, H1, H2
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Pineapple


Edible fruit, Perennials

This South American native, known botanically as Ananas comosus, is well adapted to Hawaii, where it is a commercial crop. It can be grown in Southern California in warm, protected sites; black plastic mulch over soil increases chances of success. Plants grow 2 1/2–5 ft. tall and 3–4 ft. wide, with a short, thick stem topped by a rosette of long, narrow dark green leaves. At bloom time, the stem lengthens and produces a head composed of small red or purple flowers, which then fuse together to form the pineapple. In ideal growing conditions, fruits reach the size and heft of pineapples sold in markets. Recommended varieties include ‘Del Monte Gold’, ‘Queen’, ‘Smooth Cayenne’, and ‘Sugarloaf’.

Pineapples take up to 2 years to begin bearing. Fruit is ready to harvest when it reaches a good size and starts to take on a yellow cast, with the bottom turning golden. After cutting the fruit from the plant, let it ripen fully at room temperature. Plants continue to produce fruit for several years.

Plants can be grown in the ground or in containers. Provide rich, well-drained soil. Start from divisions sold in nurseries; or slice off the leafy top of a market pineapple (cut about an inch below the leaf rosette) and let it dry for a couple of days. Plant 1 ft. apart. Set divisions 3–4 in. deep; set pineapple tops 2 in. deep (base of leaf rosette should be buried). Feed every 2–3 months with a high-nitrogen fertilizer.

Pineapple can also be grown indoors in a greenhouse or sunny room where temperature stays above 68°F (20°C). Root the base of a leafy pineapple top in water or in fast-draining but moisture-retentive potting mix. When roots have formed, move pineapple to 7–8-in. pot of rich soil. If you’re lucky, a pineapple will form, but it will be much smaller than commercial fruit. A variety with pink, white, and olive green leaves is sometimes sold as a houseplant; it can take reduced light, since it is grown for foliage rather than fruit.

 

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