Sweet, luscious pineapple - try growing it at home!
If you are lucky enough to live in California, you might be able to grow a pineapple plant for yourself. While you may or may not get fruit, it’s an interesting experience and, hey, it just might work! (Plus, three-fourths of the world’s pineapple crop comes from Costa Rica, where they use a lot of pesticides. Just sayin’)
Pineapples got their name back in the 1600s because European explorers thought they resembled pine cones, which were called 'pine apples' at that time. The Latin names, Ananas comosus, mean ‘excellent fruit’ and ‘tufted’, respectively. Pineapples are cousins to bromeliads, and the fruit are technically berries.
The pineapple plant
You see the fruit in the grocery store, but what about the pineapple plant? The plant is an herbaceous perennial that grows into a 3 to 5 foot shrub. The leaves, like many other tropicals, are tough and waxy. Pineapple plants have short, stocky stems that can send out 200 flowers, or more. These flowers then merge together to create the familiar fruit. Think of it as a blackberry with spikes. Sucker stems often emerge to produce even more fruit. Of course, being a tropical plant, temperatures are really important. Your pineapple plant will not take kindly to cold temperatures. This makes it a good choice for a container that can be brought indoors in winter, just in case.
Pineapples and pollination
When a pineapple seed is pollinated, the fruit isn’t considered marketable. In Hawaii, where the majority of pineapples used to be grown, hummingbirds could not be imported, for fear that they would pollinate all the pineapples. There are some wild pineapple plants that only flower at night and these are pollinated by bats.
How to start your own pineapple plant
You can try growing your own pineapple from the crown of a mature fruit. Simply follow these steps:
Pineapple pests and diseases
Pineapples are highly susceptible to a number of fungal diseases, including heart rot and root rot. They may also become infected by fruitlet core rot, butt rot, and yellow spot virus. Thrips, mites, ants, scale, and garden centipedes can becomes pests, and mealybugs can infect pineapple plants with wilt disease.
Be sure that your pineapple is ripe before you harvest, because it will not ripen after it is picked.
Did you know that pineapple leaves are used to make clothing and wall paper? Me, neither.
The next time you buy a pineapple in the grocery store, try starting your own pineapple plant!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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