The pineapple (ananas comosus) is a bromeliad and in fact, one of the few in its family that is edible. However, the fruit of an unripe pineapple is poisonous and will irritate both your mouth and your throat. Even the ripe fruit of the houseplant pineapple is not nearly as luscious and sweet as that grown in the sands of the tropics. Still, the pineapple is a striking, interesting, and unusual plant to add to your indoor garden collection.
The pineapple is a biennial. The first year it produces leaves and the second year it produces the flowering stalk that becomes the fruit.
The pineapple flower is actually what becomes the popular fruit. A small leaf-like cluster produces up to 200 dagger-shaped flower-like bracts. The immature ovaries of the bracts are called inflorescences. Each ovary turns into a seedless berry and then the berries fuse together into a single unit: the multiple fruit or sorosis that we call the pineapple.
To grow a pineapple, purchase a whole one at your local grocery. Select a pineapple for growing by pulling apart the center leaves to be sure there is new growth. If small leaves are withered, dry, or missing entirely, choose a different pineapple.
Or buy one in our exotics store. The Sugar Loaf variety is an easy to grow sweet cultivar that is perfect as a houseplant.
Once you've brought you pineapple home, cut off its crown, making sure your cut contains some of the fruit. Let the top dry in the sun for a couple of days or the pulpy fruit will rot rather than contribute to your pineapples growth.
When this plug has "hardened off", plant it fruit side down in a light garden soil or a regular potting soil mixed with some sand and about 1/3 rich organic matter. Cover the pineapple plug just enough to firmly seat it in your pot. Water your pineapple plant weekly until it is established. Then water only when the sand is dry to your touch.
One of the interesting parts of growing pineapple plants is that they absorb nutrients and moisture through their leaves more than through their roots. When you water a pineapple plant, pour the water into the vase-like center of the leaves. Alternatively, you may mist the leaves with a spray bottle, concentrating the spray near the center of the plant and continuing until the surrounding sand is damp.
Use this list to find information on some of our favorite unusual plants: