Growing tropical plants such as pineapples is far simpler than many realize! Pineapples are fun, easy to cultivate, and unlike any other fruiting plant in your garden. But how long does it take to grow a pineapple, exactly? And what is the best technique for a superior fruit harvest?
If you are planning on growing pineapples, patience is the name of the game – it can take three years or more for a pineapple plant to produce fruit. However, once you’ve got a few healthy pineapple plants, harvesting fruit every year is possible.
To understand more about how long it takes to grow a pineapple, we need to learn more about how these unusual plants grow and produce fruit.
- What Are the Pineapple Growing Stages?
- How to Grow Pineapples From Their Tops
- Growing Pineapples at Home – Indoors or Outdoors
What Are the Pineapple Growing Stages?
The pineapple is a tropical fruit belonging to the bromeliad family – a very unusual and highly adapted genus of plants. Some bromeliads can live in trees and survive by collecting rainwater, while others absorb water from the air.
Pineapples grow on bushy plants with long, swordlike leaves. The plant produces a central stem from the center of these leaves, on which the pineapple fruit forms.
But how do you get a pineapple plant in the first place? Well, the unusual thing about pineapple plants is that it is rare for them to be grown from seed. Instead, they are easier to grow by propagating cuttings taken from various parts of the mother plant:
If you’ve got a healthy pineapple plant, it will produce tiny baby plants which grow between the mature pineapple leaves – these are called suckers or pups. If removed carefully from the mother plant, they will happily re-root and grow into a full-size pineapple plant.
Pineapple slips are also baby pineapple plants. But they grow out of the base of the pineapple fruit. Each pineapple slip will grow into a new plant if carefully removed and planted.
Propagating pineapples from the crown is the method most people are familiar with – if you cut the crown off a pineapple fruit, it will grow into a whole new pineapple plant!
So, if you are lucky, you can plant one pineapple crown, which will offer yummy pineapple fruit plus some suckers and slips to increase your family of pineapple plants. Not bad for something we’d normally throw on the compost pile!
I prefer to twist, rather than cut, the crown off the pineapple. We used to cut the tops off in the plant nursery. However, after much experimentation, we had much better results twisting it instead. Then, we cut off most of the bottom leaves before planting – either in a container or straight into the ground.
If you haven’t grown a pineapple from a crown before, give it a go! It is tremendously simple, and homegrown pineapples are delicious. And it’s a gorgeous-looking houseplant, too!
Do Pineapple Plants Only Fruit Once?
Pineapple plants only fruit once, and each plant will only produce one pineapple. The plant grows a central stem, on which the fruit forms and ripens. That same plant can produce another pineapple on a sucker inside the mother plant’s leaves.
The pineapple below is such a pineapple – this may not technically be the ‘same’ plant, but for all intents and purposes, it is.
As a healthy plant will grow to around 5 feet tall, you must allocate a fair bit of growing space if you want a regular supply of pineapples! However, harvesting just one pineapple a year also feels like a real treat, so don’t worry if you don’t have space for many pineapple plants.
What Happens to Pineapple Plants After Harvest?
After a pineapple plant has produced just one fruit, it can rest easy! When the fruit gets harvested, the mother plant will naturally die back, revealing a cluster of tiny new plants at the base or suckers from the center of the plant.
If these pups were left as they were around the original plant, they would grow into pineapple plants, but they would be far too crowded to produce good-sized fruits. For this reason, they often get divided and replanted further apart to give them space to thrive.
How Long Does It Take to Grow a Pineapple?
So, now we’ve figured out how pineapples grow, how long does this process take?
The fastest way to grow pineapples is from suckers or slips – the baby plants produced by a mature pineapple plant. If removed from the parent plant within an acceptable timeframe, suckers or slips can bear flowers after one year, which develop into a single fruit over the next six months.
Plants grown from the crown take longer to reach maturity. And may not flower until they are 20 months old. Bear in mind that you’ve got to wait another six months for the fruit to ripen – that’s over two years to get just one pineapple!
But with the right growing conditions and adequate space, growing your fresh pineapple is worth the time and effort! The fruits will be fresher and sweeter than anything you buy from the grocery store, plus your mature plant will have already started to grow the next generation of plants for you.
How to Grow Pineapples From Their Tops
The easiest way to start is by propagating a plant from a store-bought pineapple fruit – especially if you’re new to growing pineapples. The joy of this method is that you also get to eat the fruit – a definite win-win situation!
Step 1. Cut or Twist the Top Off of the Pineapple
Cut the entire leafy section (the rosette) from the top of the pineapple using a sharp knife. Leave around 1 inch of fruit attached to the rosette. Another method is to twist the crown off. Firmly grab the pineapple fruit in one hand. Grab the foliage at the base in your other hand. Twist firmly, and the top will come off with some fruit attached. The rest of the fruit can get eaten.
Step 2. Trim the Rosette
If you use the cutting method, use a sharp knife to carefully trim the fruit flesh away from the base of the rosette. Trimming will reveal the hard central core.
Step 3. Remove the Outer Leaves
Carefully peel or cut away the outermost green leaves of the rosette, revealing the stem underneath. The roots of your new pineapple plant will grow from this stem section. Trim away the lower white part of the stem, leaving just the leaf-bearing portion.
Step 4. Plant the Stem
Plant your prepared pineapple stem in a pot of good-quality potting soil. Make sure to press the soil surface down firmly around the stem.
Step 5. Wait!
Keep your pineapple plant in a warm place – a sunny window sill can work well, or a heated propagator if you have one. In warmer climates, it is possible to propagate pineapple plants in a greenhouse or polytunnel. In the tropics, we plant them straight into the garden soil!
They like to have plenty of light and avoid anywhere with low nighttime temperatures.
You should see new leaves growing in the center of the rosette after just a week or two. Once the plant has plenty of well-established new growth, it can be potted into a larger pot or moved to its permanent location in well-drained soil.
Growing Pineapples at Home – Indoors or Outdoors
Growing pineapples is unlike many other fruits and vegetables in your garden.
So we’re sharing some of our best pineapple cultivation and propagation tips to help!
Can You Grow More Than One Pineapple From a Crown?
If you are clever, you can get four healthy pineapple plants from a single crown! Doing so requires careful and precise cutting. But you can expect superb results if done correctly.
To proceed, prepare the crown, as described above, paring back the flesh from the stem and removing the outer leaves.
Take a long sharp knife and carefully cut the leafy crown in half, dividing the stem and leaves vertically. Each half can get cut in half again, giving you four identical quarters of the pineapple crown.
When planted in good quality potting compost, root development should occur on each section, giving you four new pineapple plants.
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How Long Does a Pineapple Take to Grow From a Cutting?
The time it takes to grow a pineapple from a cutting depends on where the cutting came from on the plant. Most gardeners start their pineapple-growing journey by growing a pineapple plant from the crown, or rosette, of a fruit.
While this is a simple way to start your pineapple crop, it is not the fastest pineapple cultivation method. It can take two to three years for a pineapple grown from a crown to produce fruit!
A faster way to grow pineapples is to take cuttings – either using suckers, baby plants that grow amongst the leaves, or slips, which are tiny pineapple plants that appear at the base of the fruit.
If you can acquire pineapple cuttings, they will produce fruit within 18 months under the right conditions. As each plant can produce several suckers or slips, you may find that local pineapple growers are happy to sell or share their excess with you.
Do Pineapple Plants Need Full Sun?
Pineapple plants are heat-loving plants – their ideal climate is in the tropics, with warm weather and dampness year round. They dislike extreme temperatures and can die off if subjected to extreme cold.
However, this does not necessarily mean that they need full sun. The ideal planting position for pineapple plants will depend on where you live and your local climate. As much as pineapple plants dislike the cold, they are not big fans of direct heat and can be scorched if left in full sun on a hot day.
So, if your climate is mild rather than hot, your pineapple plants will enjoy living in direct sunlight. But if your weather conditions can sometimes be too hot for comfort, it would be better to give them a little bit of shade.
Pineapple plants need protection from the colder climates with lower winter and nighttime temperatures. A potted pineapple plant can safely move into a polytunnel, greenhouse, or conservatory during the winter. Those planted into the ground outside may benefit from a layer of fleece during the relentlessly cold weather.
Can You Plant a Pineapple Indoors?
If you’re propagating pineapple plants from cuttings, the best place to start them is inside. But can they stay indoors permanently?
There are two reasons why it might not be a good idea to plant a pineapple indoors. Firstly, these can be markedly big plants – the foliage of a healthy pineapple plant can reach heights of up to 5 feet! It is a better idea to grow your pineapple plant elsewhere. (Unless you live in a mansion with ample space for an interior mini-forest of pineapple plants! In which case – we are jealous. Please invite us!)
Secondly, pineapple plants adapted to growing in tropical climates with stupendously humid weather conditions. They get most of their moisture from the air and will not enjoy the drier conditions of your home.
How Much Water Does a Pineapple Plant Need?
Pineapple plants belong to a fascinating plant family that can get moisture from the air. So, although they will draw up some water via their roots, they also benefit from living in warm, humid conditions.
When you water your pineapple plants, ensure to get some water on the surfaces of the leaves. You may notice that the water runs down the plant leaves and pools at the bottom – this is good! This pooling effect mimics how pineapple plants collect water in the tropics, and your plant will gradually absorb this moisture.
How Do I Know When to Pick My Pineapple?
Pineapple fruits take so long to grow and ripen. It can be hard to decide when they are ready to pick! The ideal time is when the fruit has changed from green to yellow, but before it turns orange. Look for a ripe fruit that is golden-yellow all over, without any green remaining.
Thanks so much for reading our guide explaining how long it takes to grow pineapples.
We learned that pineapples aren’t for the impatient gardener.
Pineapple plants require time to grow, develop flowers and fruit, and mature. The process takes years!
However, we’re sure that pineapples make elegant potted plants and can also survive indoors.
We hope our pineapple growing guide gave you adequate answers. And inspiration!
And if you have further pineapple-growing questions? Feel free to ask!
We spend much of our life outside in our garden. And we’re happy to brainstorm with like-minded gardening geeks.
Thanks again for reading.
Have a great day!