Trouble Forcing Pineapple

steve_5aMarch 2, 2014


I have a potted pineapple that I've had for somewhere around three years now. I would think that it is mature enough to fruiting (45-50 leafs, I would say), but even if it's not it's getting overly large and so I'd like to fruit it before it gets any bigger. The offending plant in question:

I have read what people suggested in other threads, and have tried a few variations on the apple method. I have tried just sticking a ripening apple in the crown, putting a slice in the crown, putting several apples in the crown, and putting apples in the crown with a garbage bag wrapped around it to keep the gases in. Still nothing!

I have also read that calcium carbide pellets will force it, but to my knowledge it is not available for purchase in Ontario (if anyone knows otherwise, please let me know!).

Does anyone know of any other good methods for forcing a stubborn pineapple? Is there something I could have been screwing up in my various attempts?

Since I'm already posting about it, the only trouble with this plant has been that the tips are constantly browning:

This has been going on for nearly the entire life of the plant. What would cause this kind of die off? Is it normal?

Thanks for your help!

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Although pineapples usually fruit in about three years when grown in ideal conditions (think Hawaiian plantation in full sun) they can take much longer in a container in Zone 5, where I assume you grow it indoors for half the year. I grew one from a top removed from a store bought fruit and I think it took about five years to fruit. Mine was bigger than yours when it bloomed, I think. It was at least 3 feet in diameter and had fiercely sharp edges on its leaves. I can understand why you're eager for it to finish its life cycle, but I suspect it's not ready to produce a flower yet. My efforts to force flowering weren't successful either.

It doesn't have an extensive or deep root system, but it needs regular fertilization in fast draining soil and lots of sun or artificial light. I think mine slowed down in winter time and basically stood still. Many of the older leaves developed brown tips like that when it was indoors. IIRC, it bloomed in the fall after a summer in full sun outdoors. I got some help from articles I found on the Bromeliad Society website.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:43PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

It was the Bromeliad Society International website where I found the most useful information about growing pineapples as houseplants. Follow this link if you want more information. It's simple, but it's more detailed than most stuff on the web about growing pineapples.

Here is a link that might be useful: Starting a Pineapple Plant From A Pineapple

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:35PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Good info from Ohiofem!

I'm looking at my sister's pineapple, which is about three years old (or nearly so). Last Winter, the crown actually rotted....but two new rosettes grew from the roots, so all was not lost. Anyhow, the plant needs to be re-potted into a well-draining mix in order to handle the cold, dreary time spent indoors.

Last Summer, I really pushed my sister to fertilize her pineapple, and the results were excellent....though no fruit yet in zone 7b at 2,500 feet elevation.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:55PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Thanks, Josh. It's been many years since I grew that pineapple, but I remember how thrilling it was when it bloomed. Its flower was beautiful and the little fruit it produced was very tasty. Mine was only about 3 inches wide, but it lasted months on the spike and was quite a conversation starter.

If I did it again, I think I'd plant in 5-1-1 and fertilize at full strength year around. It would probably bloom earlier that way. It's not like most of the epiphytic bromeliads that you grow in orchid mix and only water in the crown. It is actually a heavy feeder that feeds through its roots and dislikes drying out. But it is susceptible to rot, so maybe it would do better in gritty mix, now that I think about it. I've been growing everything I could get my hands on for decades, but it has only been in the last three years since I joined Gardenweb and found Al's mixes that all my experience has come together and made sense.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 8:22PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I am growing one , also from store bought pineapple. It has been only couple of months, on my kitchen counter. Doing ok. New blades growing from the crown. I am just interested in its foliage.

I had the impression that it has a growth habit like bromeliads but now I know that I was wrong. So I will start fertilizing it more often.
Thanks, Ohiofem .

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 12:08AM
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Thanks for the advice - it sounds like I'm just going to have to (sigh) be patient. One big takeaway seems to be that I am wildly under-fertilizing it. I probably fertilize it two or three times per year, usually in the summer months. I will have to step that up. It is still pushing out leaves even through the winter, but it sounds like it could be doing even better.

Ohiofem, you're right that the brown tips are always on the oldest leaves. This has always been an indoor plant, but it sounds like when the snow finally melts I should get it onto the patio for the summer.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 12:27PM
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It turns out that patience is a virtue after all. I noticed this hiding in the crown of the plant about a week ago:

Looking good so far! I'll post some more follow-up photos as it continues to flower.

Is there anything out of the ordinary (watering/fertilizer/light) that I should be doing to try to maximize the size of the fruit?


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 1:32PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Just give it light, water, and nutrients....


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 2:12PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

How exciting! It sounds like you're doing the right stuff and shouldn't let up. I'd put it outdoors in the brightest spot you have and feed at full strength all summer. It will take months to get full size. (And full size won't be like a grocery store pineapple.) Please take pictures and keep us updated.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 3:17PM
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