For those who enjoy that crisp, acidic pineapple taste but don’t enjoy regularly paying high prices at the supermarket, there is hope. Growing pineapples is quite easy, even for New Yorkers.
The simplest way to acquire pineapple plants begins with buying one of the fruits from a local grocery store. Pineapples typically are sold with the vegetative crown intact, and this crown can be easily transformed into a fruit-producing plant.
First, gardeners should select a fruit based on the healthiness of the vegetative crown. Gardeners should look for vibrant, green leaves with minimal damage.
Once home, gardeners should remove the crown from the pineapple fruit. This can be accomplished by gripping the fruit in one hand and the crown in another, then twisting. It is best to subsequently use a knife to remove as much flesh as possible from the bottom of the crown. The flesh is susceptible to mold, which can damage the plant’s chances of survival.
Next, gardeners should pull off damaged leaves from the bottom of the crown. This will not only remove dead or unhealthy growth, but it will also expose the pineapple’s worm-like root primordia. These are the beginnings of root growth. Increasing the number of primordia exposed to moisture increases the plant’s chances of survival.
After preparing the crown, it should be placed in some type of growth medium and watered. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, pineapple is not particularly picky about its medium; the plant will accept coarse-, fine- and medium-textured soils. Pineapples do have a preference for acidic soils, though, with an optimal pH range of 4.0 to 6.0.
The USDA suggests those growing pineapples indoors should select a pot with a depth of at least two feet. The plant will reach a maximum height of three feet at maturity.
The new plant may display some symptoms of shock once severed from the fruit body. Patience is required, however, as the plant is slow-growing. According to Dole Plantation Inc., the first pineapple crop can be harvested after 18-20 months of growth. A second crop, called a ratoon, can be harvested 15 months later.
Gardeners should note that pineapples have some drought tolerance, though the plant cannot tolerate frost. With respect to frost, USDA records indicate that pineapples are best acclimated to grow zones 10b to 13b. Much of New York City lies in Zone 7b, however, suggesting that annual temperatures can descend as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit, on average. Pineapple plants should be brought indoors should forecasts indicate that temperatures could sink below 32 degrees.
USDA maps should be used to determine local grow zones and average annual minimum temperatures.