Grow Your Own Pineapple
I was 13 or 14 when I grew my own pineapple. I was surprised how easy it was, and it made a great conversation piece with my folks’ friends. (My own classmates just thought I was a geeky plant guy. Never could figure out why.)
Just a few easy steps…
So here’s how you do this. I’m sorry I don’t have photos, but it’s so simple you’ll learn the tune if you just hum along.
1. Assemble the raw materials. (Every one of these involves recycling.)
• Pineapple top (fresh and green with 1 inch of the fruit still in place) after you’ve eaten the pineapple;
• 8-inch used flowerpot (I prefer clay because of their added weight – pineapple plants are heavy.);
• Enough really loose, highly organic potting soil to fill up the pot. If you insist on the recycling thing, you can re-use soil out of a patio pot or hanging basket.
• One dry cleaner’s plastic bag;
• One large, soft rubber band; and
• One apple (eat the apple, save the core) – but this step comes later.
2. Allow the pineapple top to dry on the counter for 1-2 days.
3. Holding the top by its leaves and pretending the top of the fruit to be its roots, pot it into the 8-inch pot. Use the loose, highly organic potting soil. Firm the soil around the top of the fruit (“roots”).
4. Water the soil thoroughly. Press the soil to pack it around the pineapple firmly. Add more soil as needed and water one more time. Be sure the pineapple top extends out of the pot straight up and down.
5. The plant will develop roots and start to grow. Give it bright light, but preferably not full sunlight in summer. Do not allow it to freeze come winter. As it grows, feed it with a high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food. Its new leaves will be much longer – to 18 or 20 inches. They will have serrated edges.
6. After it has grown for 8-12 months you can try forcing it into bloom. Water the plant thoroughly. Carefully position the apple core down in the center of the pineapple’s leaves. Enclose the plant and pot with the dry cleaner’s bag. Be careful not to poke holes through the plastic. You may want to use a double layer.
7. Place the plant, wrap and all, in a bright spot that’s out of direct sunlight.
8. Keep it covered for 6-8 weeks. Open it up and replace the apple core every couple of weeks. As the apple cores decay they give off ethylene gas, and that triggers the flowering process in bromeliads like pineapples.
9. As the fruit develops it will grow to be the size of your fist.
10. Once it takes on a rich golden shade and as it begins to be slightly soft to the squeeze, it will be time to take photos, then to harvest and eat it.
The good news is, if it all fails you’ve lost nothing more than a few months and some stuff you were going to throw away anyway.
As for the Science Fair aspect, just the process of growing the pineapple is fun enough. There are the side stories of all the other bromeliads including Spanish moss. How the ethylene gas does its job. How and where pineapples are grown. And, the list goes on and on.