Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Grow a Pineapple From a Pineapple Top

Let's start with the basics. You probably already know that pineapples don't grow on trees. They are bromeliads, with spiky leaves radiating from a center.  They are also very easy to grow, even in a pot, and can tolerate being in a jar filled with water for a long time.  All you need to start with is a pineapple that still has its crown.  Just go to a grocery store or a farmer's market and get one.

Update 4/14/13: It's been kind of fascinating to see the internet in action. I've seen pins from this post, and then collages of pins from this post, and then other people who have discovered this technique. If you have been inspired to try this out at home from my site and blog about it, please include a link to this source. Mahalo! (Thank you!)

A good pineapple to obtain is a Maui pineapple - they are hybridized to be really sweet, super-juicy, and low in acidity. If you are not on Maui, do your best to get a sweet variety.

Your basic pineapple top, a little dried-out.

First, grab the pineapple with one hand, and firmly twist the crown off with the other hand. It will come off fairly easily. There should be no need to cut it off unless you prefer.  You now have a pineapple without a crown, without any damage to the fruit itself. 

Take the crown and pull off the lower leaves. You don't need them and they will get in the way of rooting the pineapple. Pull enough leaves to expose about an inch or more of core/stem. You may even see little rootlets around the ridged core.

Pull off lower leaves to expose the ridged core underneath.

If you have a pineapple top that someone else has cut off and it's a bit dried out, don't despair. Just trim off the lower leaves, and cut excess portions of the core, usually the bottom where it was attached to the fruit. You'll know they are excess parts because they are juicy and softer rather than firm. You want to expose the central core that has little ridges on the surface.  You don't want fruit stuck to the core because when you put it in water, it will make everything rot. Even if the leaves are browned, if it's not more than a week, the pineapple top still has a good chance of rooting.

Notice the ridges of the core, and the exposed root nodules (little bumps).

The only top you will have no luck with is when the crown is sliced vertically in half.  This is sometimes how pineapples are displayed at luaus, since it's decorative.

Fill a jar with water and plop your crown into the jar. Place your pineapple jar in an area that gets decent light, although it can tolerate some shade. Refill the jar as needed - check every couple of days to make sure the crown is still submerged.


Within only a few days, roots will emerge. Within two weeks, some nice roots should develop.  With time, the pineapple leaves will also get longer and bigger. So make sure not to keep the jar somewhere that will poke you. Also, it's good to change the water, clean the jar occasionally, and wash off any green algae on the roots.

After a few days, baby roots are forming.

You can plant the pineapple whenever you're ready. I use basic potting mix or sometimes the heavy clay soil from the backyard with some compost added and that has worked fine. If you want fruit, you'll want to keep it in a sunny location. Otherwise, the pineapple will develop long slender leaves but will not fruit.

After a week or so, long roots are growing.

If you're not ready to plant your pineapple, because you don't have enough space or live in a place that gets cold in the winter, you could keep it in water for a long time.

How long can you keep a pineapple in a jar? At least a year, perhaps longer. I've never paid a lot of attention, but they seem pretty hardy and tolerant of my neglect.  If the pineapple has gotten a bit large, I have also moved the jar outside.

They will take about 2 years to produce fruit, but you can subtract some of the time they have spent in a jar. Unless you give your plant some good fertilizer and take care of your soil, your pineapple fruit may not taste great.  I've had good luck with some liquid fertilizers and have produced some really sweet, albeit small, pineapples.  They might have produced bigger fruits if they had been in the ground or in a larger pot.

But if you are growing them just for the novelty of growing them, that's fine too. You can have an entire collection of rooting pineapple tops in jars. Feel free to name your pet pineapples.

Meet Larry, Moe, and Curly.

With any luck, you will grow great pineapples.

It takes about 18 months from planting to grow pineapple fruit. These two plants are growing in containers on the deck.

4/15/13: Found this great comment by Dal on Pinterest:

"Pineapple best success rate if from peeling ONLY a few leaves off the lower part, NOT so many until you see some of the "air roots". Let the plant DRY couple days then pot in sandy rich loam DURING HOT, GROWING SEASON. No during cool/wintry weather! That's critital. I have had 100% success rate with this guideline. Give it several hours of full sun with some shade too. Pineapple LOVES FOOD so once rooted, fertilize it. EASIEST way to grow pineapple! off not cut!"

By the way, this pin goes to this video by Dal on Pinterest which I had no idea was out there until today:

Dal's video is from 2009. I first found out about this technique of regrowing pineapples in 2004, and it was common knowledge on Maui. If this post helped you, let me know. If you're stumbling onto this post for the first time and found it helpful and later blogged about it, I'd appreciate if your post includes a link to this site, and please also feel free to leave your link in the comments below.

Aloha and mahalo (Hawaiian for thank you) for reading.

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  1. Yes, the twist off top makes a big difference w/ rooting the pineapple. If you just cut it, the fruit can rot before it takes root.

  2. I put in two crowns in jars of water yesterday! I'm so excited. I tried growing a pineapple 4 years ago, but I failed because I put the crown in soil right after cutting it off. As I checked on it, since it was browning, I realized that it had rotted:(. Now I'm afraid that my current crowns will rot too because I peeled off too many leaves and unfortunately the leaves that are left feel rotten to me. I don't know what to do only to not lose hope:D.

  3. A friend of mine told me pineapples attract termites. Is this correct? Because I don't want to eventually put my pineapples outside and then have even more termites than we already do!

  4. You can always try again! I've had that happen a couple of times.

  5. I have never heard of this! I don't believe this is true, but I will ask around. I think what attracts termites is yummy old wood, w/o any kind of treatment and have never seen them fly around pineapples.

  6. Thanks I think, just popped this into a translator program and it's a list of company categories in Arabic.


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