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Have you ever thrown out the top crown of a pineapple? Next time, keep it. You can grow it into a new Pineapple plant!
Mari from Houseplant Central is here to share her wisdom on how to care for your indoor pineapple plant. Like me, she has a house full of plants and she can talk about them 24/7. That’s my kind of people. Let’s talk Plants!
How to Care for an indoor Pineapple Plant by Mari
The dwarf pineapple plant, often with a small pineapple fruit attached, has been taking the houseplant world by storm. It’s easy to see why: the idea of having a pineapple plant is just fun. And these plants are nice to look at as well, with spiky leaves in colors like green and dark red. There are even variegated varieties to choose from!
All pineapple plants are cultivars of one species: Ananas comosus. So whether you buy one labeled ‘dwarf pineapple plant’ or ‘pygmy pineapple plant’ or just grow a normal pineapple plant yourself, their care is the same. The only difference is their size and whether or not their fruit is actually edible.
Let’s go into pineapple plant care and what your plant needs are in order to thrive indoors.
What is a pineapple plant?
Ananas comosus, the pineapple plant, is naturally found in South America. It’s actually a species of Bromeliad, which might come as a surprise to some. Most Bromeliads are epiphytic (growing on trees rather than in the soil) and usually grow showy blooms rather than fruits.
Did you know? Air plants from the popular Tillandsia genus are also Bromeliads. Goes to show how varied they are!
Despite the fact that Ananas comosus is terrestrial (growing in the ground) rather than an epiphyte, it’s still a typical Bromeliad in most respects.
Before we go into general pineapple plant care, there’s one extremely important fact that you need to keep in mind:
With Bromeliads, once they flower, they’re a goner. So that pineapple plant you just bought that has a fruit on it, will start to decline sooner or later.
Time to panic? Nope. Although sadly your pineapple ‘mother’ plant will fade away, it’ll provide everything you need to produce a new generation. You might actually end up with multiple new pineapple plants rather than one!
You see, although the fruit on those mini pineapple cultivars is definitely not for eating (it tastes terrible), you can still use it. The bushy top is a baby Ananas comosus just waiting to be planted. We’ll go further into that in the section on propagation. Additionally, the mother plant will likely start producing offsets at her base. These babies can also be replanted.
Pineapple plant care tips
It’s not too difficult to keep your pineapple plant alive and happy indoors.
Probably the most important thing to remember when it comes to pineapple plant care is lighting. In terms of light, you should treat them like succulents or cacti. They really want as much sun as you can offer them.
Choose your sunniest windowsill for your pineapple plant. Or consider popping the plant into the garden during the summer months. Be sure to rotate it from time to time to prevent it from leaning to one side.
Tip: If you’re worried you just can’t offer enough sun, it’s probably a good idea to look into some supplemental artificial plant lighting.
Ananas comosus is a tropical plant and it absolutely loves water. Although these plants should never be sitting in soggy soil, it’s important to keep the medium evenly moist at all times.
You can water with some general houseplant fertilizer during spring or summer when your pineapple plant is producing new growth.
A pineapple plant will appreciate a good humidity level and won’t thrive in dry homes. If your hygrometer (humidity meter, a great tool to have!) tells you that the humidity is under 40%, you might have to find your Ananas another spot like the bathroom or find a way to raise it the air moisture levels.
Steps to increase the humidity in the air around your pineapple plant include using a pebble tray, grouping plants together, or even running a humidifier.
Tip: Read up on How to Water Houseplants for a quick refresher on how and when to water your plant.
Soil & potting
Although pineapple plants like their soil moist at all times, they can’t stand sogginess. This means you’ll have to find a medium that lets excess water drain easily.
A commercial succulent or cactus soil (the kind that does have potting soil, not the grit-only type) should work well for your pineapple plant. Alternatively, you could just mix a loamy potting soil with a good fistful or two of perlite.
In order to be a successful pineapple plant grower, it’s important to know how to propagate these plants. After all, the mother plant will decline after fruiting. You have to make sure you know how to continue her lineage!
Luckily, this is not very difficult.
Pineapple propagation from top
As briefly mentioned earlier, it’s possible to regrow a whole new pineapple plant from just the crown. And yes, this even works with store-bought pineapples as long as the top looks healthy!
Tip: The only problem with using store-bought pineapples to grow an indoor plant is that these cultivars can grow very large. If you don’t have space it might be better to buy a dwarf cultivar that’s more suited to indoor growing.
Planting a pineapple top is really easy.
- Choose a fruit that has a healthy-looking top. Some of them are a bit too far gone to be viable for regrowing. So go for a slightly unripe pineapple that still has fresh leaves.
- Use a twisting motion to separate the top from the fruit.
- Eat the fruit if it’s ripe enough. Yum!
- Remove some of the lower leaves to expose the stalk.
- Pot your new, rootless plant into rich but well-draining soil or pop it into a vase if you prefer water propagation. If you choose the latter, you can pot it up once it roots.
- Place the container in a warm and sunny spot.
- Twiddle your thumbs. Give the plant a very careful tug if you really can’t contain yourself; any resistance means it has grown roots.
- If the propagation attempt was successful you’ll see new growth starting to appear after 1-2 months.
Not all pineapple tops will regrow. Sometimes you just get a dud and have to try again.
Pineapple propagation from offsets
If your pineapple mother plant has grown new baby plants at her base, you’re in luck. She’s just made it much easier to grow new pineapple plant than it would have been starting out with a fruit.
The nice thing about offsets/pups/babies (whichever word you prefer) is that if you leave them attached to the mother plant for a while, they’ll grow their own root systems.
Once the time has come to separate the offsets, all you have to do is sever their connection to the mother plant with a sharp, clean knife. Voilà! You’ve got one or more fully rooted new pineapple plants.
Growing a pineapple plant from seed
You might be wondering if a pineapple plant can be grown from seed. Well, yes, they can. But why bother, since growing a pineapple from the top or from pups is so easy.
The yummy edible pineapples in the supermarket have been selectively cultivated to not produce seed. However, some might slip through: little brown specks. These can technically be grown into new plants but keep in mind that it takes ages.
If you have one of those mini seed greenhouses you can try germinating some pineapple seeds in there. A plastic egg carton would also work perfectly. Just fill some seed pods halfway with soil, pop the seeds in and place some more soil on top. Moisten and wait!
Common pineapple plant problems
Pineapple plant dying off
As mentioned, Bromeliads will slowly fade after they bloom. Nothing we can do about that, unfortunately.
If your pineapple plant has fruited and is producing baby pups while slowly declining, not to worry. Just follow the instructions in the propagation section above and you’ll have a new plant one in no time.
A new, young plant won’t immediately have the cute little fruit that store-bought mini pineapple plants come with. You could follow the instructions in the section below once it has matured to encourage the growth of new fruit.
Root rot on pineapple plant
If you’ve struggled to get the moisture levels for your pineapple plant right and accidentally overdid it for a while, root rot might develop. The leaves will start yellowing and blackening from the bottom and you might notice a nasty smell.
Root rot can, unfortunately, be pretty disastrous to plants but you might still be able to save yours. Take it out of its container, remove any affected roots and pot back up into fresh, well-draining soil. Take it easier with the watering from now on.
Interestingly, plants dying from overwatering will often produce a bunch of babies before they give up the ghost. You can replant these.
Pests on pineapple plant
Even the sturdy leaves of an Ananas plant will not always be enough to deter pests. If you notice leaf pests like mealybugs you can use a mixture of neem oil and water to wage war on them.
Plants that have to be kept moist sometimes attract fungus gnats, whose larvae like munching on roots. Try letting your pineapple plant’s soil dry out more between waterings. Water once a week with a mixture of 3 parts water and 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide.
Yellowing, wilting and crispy leaves
If you notice the leaves on your pineapple plant looking limp, yellowing, and/or crisping up, this could be a sign of overwatering. Go back to the section on root rot if that’s the case.
The same symptoms can also be caused by underwatering. Remember, if you stick a finger into the soil, you should always feel some dampness. If not, you’ve waited too long!
Keep in mind that as winter turns into spring and summer, your pineapple plant will need more water to support its growth.
Making a pineapple plant grow fruit
If you’ve got a mature pineapple plant (around two years old), you might be wondering how to make it produce fruit. The fruit on mini pineapple plants is not edible but it does look nice. Regular cultivars might actually produce an edible pineapples.
How do you make a pineapple plant produce fruit?
- Indoor conditions are usually not ideal for this, so this could be a good summer project while you have the plant outdoors to soak up lots of light.
- A pineapple plant that is grown outdoors year-round in a warm climate usually won’t need help. But for indoor ones, there’s a trick to move things along.
- Take a large plastic bag and put your pineapple plant and its planter inside. Also, add a ripe apple and tie the bag closed.
- Wait, what? No, really! Apples produce ethylene, which will encourage flowering. Leave things like this for a week or so.
- Once you’ve taken it out of the bag, be patient, and care for your pineapple plant as usual. If you were successful, you’ll see a flower spike forming within a month or two.
- Be patient some more: it can take up to six months to produce ripe fruit.
Is a pineapple plant toxic?
Not really, it doesn’t pose a real danger to cats, dogs, other pets, or children. The sap might provoke an allergic reaction and can cause swelling and pain in some cases, though.
Toxic or not, you need to keep in mind that its leaves are pretty spiky. If you have a clumsy cat, dog or child in the home be sure to keep the plant out of their reach to prevent them from hurting themselves.
Where to buy a pineapple plant
As mentioned before, you don’t necessarily need to buy a pineapple plant, you can also just buy a pineapple and plant the top. I like getting the mini pineapples that some larger supermarkets carry because they tend to have fresher crowns than the large ones.
That being said, if you actually want to be able to choose your pineapple cultivar you’ll have to buy a plant. This is an especially good idea if you don’t have a lot of space since the ones you grow from tops can become really large.
Look for a dwarf variety if you can’t accommodate a larger one, though remember that these don’t produce edible fruit.
About the author
Mari is the author behind Houseplant Central, an informative website dedicated to helping houseplant enthusiasts keep their greenery happy and healthy.
Originally from The Netherlands but living in Spain, she spends her days writing about indoor gardening in the company of two noisy parakeets and extensive houseplant collection.