How to grow pineapples

Growing pineapples in Perth

The pineapple plant, Ananas comosus, is a tropical herbaceous perennial. It grows up to 1.5m tall, and the same across, although usually it won’t get taller or broader than 1m. The plant has a short, sturdy stem and narrow, waxy leaves 30 – 100cm long, often with sharp spines along the edges. Pineapples are a tropical plant, but they will grow successfully and fruit in Perth’s mediterranean climate, and other warmer more tropical parts of Western Australia.

What you might not know is you can grow a pineapple from the crown of another pineapple. I love the idea of using ‘waste’ to create something new. One of my favourite things to grow right now is growing pineapples from scraps. They are magical plants, the fact you can plant pineapple heads and grow a pineapple from another pineapple, feels like you are watching the movie ‘Inception’.

If you have ever wondered how to grow pineapples in Perth then look no further. A relatively simple fruit tree to grow there are a few tricks to successfully growing pineapples in Perth, Western Australia but get these right and you will be laughing.

When to plant pineapples in Perth:
Because pineapples are planted via propagation they can be planted any time of year. However pineapples are harvested in Australia between November to March so this is a good time to eat a pineapple and then get to work planting a pineapple head.

Types of pineapple in Western Australia:
If you’ve eaten a pineapple in Australia the chances are it’s a variety called ‘Mareeba Sweet’. There are a number of pineapple varieties available in Perth green grocers though so keep and eye out for others. My pineapple plant collection started simply by propagating pineapple heads bought from the supermarket.

  • Mareeba Sweet pineapple – A sweet, golden colored pineapple grown commercially in Australia.An aromatic, sweet flavor that has a standout perfume when ripening. Low acid and high yielding variety of Pineapple.
  • Rough pineapple – The “Queen of Fruit” Rough leaf refers to the prickly leaves on the crown of this fruit. It’s an old time favourite for Pineapple fanciers, firm sweet yellow flesh grown in tropical north Queensland.
  • Queen Pineapple – Fruit size is small and the flesh is of a crunchy, fibrous texture with high TSS and moderate acidity.
  • Aussie Gold pineapple – The Aussie Gold is a modern low acid variety originally from Hawaii. It has a sweet aroma and has many uses.
  • F180 pineapple –  This selection is very sweet with low acidity. The pineapple makes a very attractive patio plant, which will reward you with fruit within 2 years. In the Bromeliad family it requires very well drained potting mix and a sunny warm position, otherwise very hardy.

How to grow pineapple at home:
Growing pineapples requires patience as a young or new plant can take up to 2-3 years to produce fruit.

  1. Choose a sunny or a dappled shade spot with well drained soil. Enrich the soil with soil improver and plant fertiliser. If the soil is alkaline, add soil acidifer liquid sulfur to help lower the pH level of the soil.
  2. Dig a hole twice the width of the pot and to the same depth. Remove the plant from the container, gently tease the roots and cut away any circled or tangled roots.
  3. Position in hole and backfill with soil, gently firming down.  Form a raised or doughnut shaped ring of soil around the outer edge of the plant’s root zone. This helps keep water where it’s needed.  Always water in well after planting to settle the soil around the pineapple roots.
  4. Mulch around the base with organic mulch like sugarcane or pea straw, keeping it away main stem of the plant.
  5. Water deeply, once every 3-4 days, depending on weather conditions. Once established, water deeply once every week.
  6. Fertiliser for pineapple is essential. Feed with dynamic lifter soil improver and plant fertiliser every 6-8 weeks. When flowering and fruiting, feed fortnightly with citrus liquid plant food.

How to grow a pineapple in a pot:
If you were wondering can pineapples be planted in pots? Yes is the answer, they make great pot plants, they’re perfect for small gardens. The great thing about growing pineapples in a pot is you can bring it indoors to help liven up your living area. Look for the ‘Dwarf Pineapple’, which produces small sweet fruit.

  1. Choose a pot at least 400mm wide and at least 300mm deep. Position in full sun, with protection from strong winds. Fill pot with potting mix.
  2. Remove the plant from the container, gently tease the roots and cut away any circled or tangled roots.
  3. Position in pot, backfill with potting mix, gently firm down and water in well.
  4. Pineapple plant food is essential. Feed with dynamic lifter and plant fertiliser every 6-8 weeks. When flowering and fruiting, feed weekly with citrus liquid plant food (This is perfect for pineapple plant fertiliser also).

When to harvest pineapples:
Pineapples produce fruit from November to March. Pick and eat only when ripe (golden yellow or orange colour)  as green immature pineapples are toxic.

Pineapples are a multiple fruit, which means they grow from a cluster of up to 150 fertilised flowers that join together. Pineapples take up to two years to be ready for harvesting. After a pineapple has been cut from its parent plant another fruit will start to develop called the ratoon crop. Once this ratoon crop is harvested the plants are usually mulched into the ground and the tops from previously harvested fruit (or slips that form within the original plants) are planted to regrow a pineapple and the cycle begins again. This explains why some pineapples in the shops don’t have crowns attached.

Storing pineapple at home:
Once the fresh pineapple is cut from the plant, it will not ripen any further, so forget about letting it ripen on the counter.

At room temperature – a ripe one will keep for around 3 days. Whole pineapples shouldn’t be stored in the fridge – but once the flesh has been peeled and chopped it’s fine to chill it, stored in an airtight container.

Freezing pineapple is a good option if you have a too much.  Because pineapple is juicy, it’s wise to line the tray with baking wax paper first. This simple step makes removing the frozen pineapple easier. Place the tray into the freezer to quick freeze the pineapple pieces. After everything is frozen solid, pack pineapple into freezer bags or containers.

Pineapple care and common problems:
The most likely problems are mealy bugs and nematodes, the latter particularly so in sandy soils. Controlling ants will help reduce the mealy bug risk, however rats and ants can also be attracted to the high sugar content in the pineapple it matures. Cool and damp conditions increase fungal rots so keep a close eye out for this if drainage isn’t ideal.

How did pineapple get it’s name?
In 1493, Columbus, on his voyage to the Caribbean, found the fruit on the island of Guadaloupe. Being European, this curious new fruit had an abrasive, segmented exterior like a pinecone and inside the fruit had a firm interior like an apple. So combining the two it was dubbed ‘pineapple’.

Reminder that immature pineapples are toxic. Pick and eat only when ripe (golden yellow or orange colour).

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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