The healthy pineapple is very popular as a tropical vitamin bomb. Instead of flying them in, you can also grow pineapples yourself. We’ll show you how to do it.
Everyone knows the juicy, sweet aroma of a ripe pineapple ( Ananas comosus or Ananas sativus). But most people are only familiar with tropical fruit when they have bought it from the supermarket. But if you want to face the challenge of harvesting your own pineapple, you should be prepared for a lot. In our part of the world, pineapples are not easy to grow. You can find out how to do this in our article. Here we tell you everything about the origin, different varieties, cultivation, care, and propagation of pineapples.
From the plant genus, Ananas (pineapple), and the family of bromeliads (Bromeliaceae) comes the tropical pineapple. The name probably comes from the Guaraní language, which is spoken in South America in the countries of Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia. There the word “naná” means something like fruit. It owes its English name “Pineapple” to its appearance.
“Pine Cones” is the English term for pine cones and when the tropical fruit was first discovered in America, its shape immediately reminded Europeans of a pine cone. Pineapple plants are very sensitive to frost and can therefore not be grown outdoors. However, they don’t really feel at home in dry living room air either, because they only thrive at a humidity of 60 percent or more. Growing here is not exactly easy, but also not impossible.
Origin and characteristics of the pineapple
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As you might quickly guess, the pineapple comes from the tropical regions of Latin America. Some estimates suggest that it has been cultivated by humans for 4,000 years. Not only was the fruit of the pineapple plant used, but the leaves were also used by indigenous peoples to make clothes and even for the tendons of their bows thanks to their strong fibers. The Spanish conquerors quickly brought the pineapple to Europe, where it enchanted the royal families in particular with its exotic, sweet taste. So she became a symbol of power and high status at that time. The colonialists also quickly spread the fruit to other tropical regions of the world, where it is still grown today.
The largest pineapple producers today are Costa Rica, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and India. For a long time, cultivation in Europe only succeeded in extremely costly and time-consuming cultivation projects by the nobility. Since the weather conditions in winter are too cold for pineapples even in southern Europe, commercial cultivation outside of tropical areas has not caught on.
The pineapple is a perennial herbaceous plant. In contrast to many other bromeliad species, it grows terrestrially, i.e. earthbound, and not epiphytically, i.e. on another plant. The small, club-shaped trunk of the pineapple is up to 35 centimeters long and a small part of it is in the ground. The foliage leaves sit on the whole trunk in rosettes, up to 80 per plant. At the upper end, there are deciduous bracts. These form the top of the pineapple plant. From the vegetation cone, an inflorescence up to 30 centimeters long develops, on which there can be up to 100 individual flowers. The flowers are arranged in a spiral.
Each flower then forms its individual fruit, which looks like scales. These individual fruits then combine to form the pineapple fruit. Inside the pineapple fruit, there is a fleshy, fibrous inflorescence axis. Around it, you can find the pulp, which consists of the individual berries that are all fused. The “bark” of the pineapple fruit actually consists of the sepals and petals of the pineapple flowers. In their natural environment, pineapple plants can bear fruit for up to 50 years.
The world of pineapples is very diverse and there are many different varieties around the world. These are divided into five large groups of varieties.
This group of varieties is the most important for commercial cultivation. The pineapple fruits in this group can weigh up to four kilograms and are very large. The taste is aromatic, the pulp is mostly light yellow and low in fiber. Well-known varieties in this group are Baron Rothschildˈ, Hiloˈ, ˈKewˈ, and Smooth Cayenneˈ.
The fruits of this group of varieties are significantly smaller, they only weigh up to one kilogram. The pulp of the pineapples in this group is intensely yellow, low in fibers, and very aromatic. It tastes very sweet. Important varieties of the Queens pineapple are ˈAlexandraˈ, Fairy Queenˈ, Natal Queenˈ, Ripley Queenˈ and Victoria, MacGregorˈ.
The pineapple fruits of this group of varieties are mainly characterized by their high fiber pulp. The fruits also weigh up to two kilograms and have very light-colored flesh. Well-known varieties of Spanish pineapple are Red Spanishˈ and Singapore Spanishˈ.
The fruits of this group stand out due to their reddish color. The flesh is bright yellow, but also very rich in fibers. Varieties of the Perolera pineapple are Maipureˈ, Milagreñaˈ, Peroleraˈ, and ˈTachirenseˈ.
This group of varieties is not grown commercially but is used locally in home gardens and for self-sufficiency in Venezuela and Brazil. The fruits have a reddish shimmer, the flesh is aromatic, low in fibers, and greenish-yellow to white. Some varieties of Pernambuco pineapple are ˈAbacaxiˈ , Paulistaˈ and Sugar Loafˈ .
Buying a pineapple plant: what to look out for
Once you’ve decided to dare to grow your own pineapple, you have the choice between growing your own or buying a plant. Whoever reaches for the already large plant, takes a lower risk and has less work in the cultivation, but also has to dig deeper into their pockets. You can find pineapple plants in hardware stores, garden centers, or on the Internet.
When buying your pineapple plant, make sure you choose the right variety. In addition, the plant should make a vital and healthy impression. Stay away from plants with damaged leaves or those showing signs of pests or diseases. For the sake of the environment, a biological origin of the plant is advisable. Plants from organic farms are also often more resilient.
What should you look for when buying a pineapple plant?
- Variety choice
- Healthy and undamaged
- Preferably from organic farming
Planting a pineapple
When planting your pineapple, you should first choose a suitable location. The pineapple loves it sunny and warm; the temperature should never drop below 16 degrees. And humidity also plays an important role in cultivation, because it should always be over 60 percent. The pineapple feels particularly good in a loose, permeable substrate with a pH value of 5.
How should one plant the pineapple?
- Select a suitable planter
- Mix the substrate and enrich it with a fertilizer with an organic long-term effect
- Create a drainage layer
- Fill one-third of the pot with substrate
- Insert the plant in the middle
- Fill the pot with substrate
- Pouring on
You can read detailed instructions for planting pineapples here.
Caring for pineapples
The pineapple is not only demanding in terms of its location but also in terms of care. After all, she does not want to starve or die of thirst and therefore needs regular water and fertilizer.
How is the pineapple cared for?
- Water regularly
- Spray additionally
- Cutting is not necessary
- Repot in good time
- Fertilize every 3 months with a fertilizer with an organic long-term effect
- Alternatively, fertilize with a liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks
Pour the pineapple
Water your pineapple regularly, but don’t overdo it. The plant will not forgive you waterlogging, but a little dry substrate will be more likely. The top substrate layer is allowed to dry off before the next time it is poured. However, you should not pour the substrate onto the leaves of the plant. If the tips of the leaves of the plant turn brown, this can be a sign of excessive drought. If you also want to do something good for your pineapple, then spray it regularly with lukewarm water.
Cut the pineapple
The pineapple does not have to be cut back. However, if it takes on excessive forms over time, you should repot it and not cut it. When the pineapple plant grows over the edge of its planter, it is time to repot. The best time for this is in spring. The new planter should then be only a few centimeters larger than the old one.
To grow well, the pineapple needs sufficient and regular nutrients. The first fertilization should be done a few weeks after the formation of new leaves at the earliest. The period in which you have to repeat the fertilizer application depends on the type of fertilizer. If you use an environmentally friendly and resource-saving fertilizer with an organic long-term effect, then one fertilization every three months is completely sufficient for the pineapple. Our Gardender organic universal fertilizer, which gently releases all the important nutrients for the pineapple, is ideally suited. The high phosphorus content also supports fruit formation.
The pineapple is very easy to propagate and grow on the windowsill. All you need for this is the tuft of leaves, which you usually throw away when preparing the pineapple. We’ll show you how to grow a new plant from the tuft of leaves on the fruit.
Pineapples are easy to follow with the regrowing method
- Cut or unscrew the stalk with a sharp knife
- Remove the pulp
- Remove all superfluous leaves except about 10
- Put the stalk in the water
- Set up in a light and warm location
- Change the water regularly
- As soon as roots have formed, plant in substrate
Another way to propagate pineapples yourself is through the so-called Kindle. These are small saplings that form at the base of a pineapple plant. As soon as these are about half the size of the mother plant, they can be cut off and planted. To do this, proceed as follows.
Propagate pineapples by kindling:
- Take the entire plant out of the pot
- Shake off the earth and expose Kindel
- Kindel should be 20-30 cm tall for cutting
- Cut off Kindel with a sharp knife
- Treat interfaces with charcoal powder
- Plant in substrate
- Cover with foil or place in a mini greenhouse
- An independent pineapple plant soon developed
Harvesting and storing pineapples
If you want to harvest your own pineapple, you have to be patient: it can take up to two years for the first fruit to ripen after planting. To find the right time to harvest your pineapple, rely on your nose. As soon as the fruit gives off an intense scent typical of the pineapple, it is ready to be harvested. Another sign is that the bark gives way slightly to pressure. Only harvest your pineapple when it is actually fully ripe because it does not ripen after the harvest.
Hold the fruit firmly with one hand while using the other with a sharp knife, cut the fruit, including the stem. The plant slowly dies over time. However, you should not dispose of them too early, as shoots can still form for further reproduction. Unfortunately, the fresh pineapple can only be kept for up to a week. But it doesn’t belong in the refrigerator, because it’s too cold there. It is better to keep it at room temperature.
How is the pineapple harvested and stored?
- The pineapple is ripe when it smells intense and the rind gives way slightly
- Cut the pineapple with a stalk with a sharp knife
- Store at room temperature
- Can be stored for up to 1 week
Ingredients and uses of pineapple
The pineapple is a particularly healthy fruit that contains many important ingredients. Above all, it is rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, and iron. But other nutritional values of the tropical fruit are also convincing – 100 grams of pineapple contain around 50 kilocalories (kcal). A special active ingredient in pineapple is the enzyme bromelain, which aids digestion. The fruit is also said to help detoxify and drain water and is therefore often recommended for diets.
But pineapple is not only healthy and low in calories, but it is also a real pleasure in terms of taste. It can of course simply be consumed raw, for example in a fruit salad, or drunk as a pineapple juice or smoothie. In a smoothie, it is best to combine it with other tropical fruits, but green leafy vegetables such as spinach ( Spinacia oleracea ) can also complement the tropical fruit.
A classic among the dishes with pineapple is of course Hawaiian toast with ham and cheese. The pineapple also cuts a fine figure on the pizza. Pineapples can also be wonderfully processed into desserts, for example, cakes, muffins, or ice cream. It also tastes delicious in Asian dishes, for example in Chinese sweet and sour chicken. And of course, a cocktail comes to mind when you talk about pineapple: the piña colada. For this, rum, coconut cream, fresh pineapple, and pineapple juice are mixed with plenty of ice in a blender. If you like it even creamier, you can also add cream. Served in a hollowed-out pineapple, this cocktail is also a real eye-catcher.
If you would now like to find out more about planting pineapples, you will find all the information here.