Pineapples are one of the most unique and exotic tropical fruits. Originally cultivated
by tribes in the Caribbean, pineapples were known as ‘anana’ or ‘excellent fruit’.
In the 15th Century they were discovered by Christopher Columbus and his crew who
coined the name ‘pine apple’ as they thought it looked like a pine cone with the
tasty sweetness of an apple.
This began a steady trade in pineapple fruits and also pineapple plants which were highly prized by members of the Victorian and Edwardian aristocracy. How to cultivate pineapples was a closely guarded secret amongst head gardeners of the larger houses, as this skill alone was enough to guarantee them employment.
Plants4Presents pineapple plants still come from the Caribbean today; but once they have completed their journey by sea they are acclimatised in our Sussex nursery before being carefully hand wrapped and boxed ready to make someone’s day. You can buy your own exotic pineapple plant online now for delivery in March. The fruits make a great feature whilst they are ripening and although they will not reach the size of fruits in the supermarket they are delicious eaten fresh from the plant.
Over the years we have become fascinated by these exotic plants and the tricks to getting them to refruit. Very little is publically available about caring for these plants in the UK and in response to our customers questions we have put together this information page based on our own experiences over the last 4 years to help you get the most from your pineapple plants.
These plants come from tropical climates so thrive in warm sunny positions. They
do not need a lot of water but should be watered little and often to maintain moist
rather than soggy soil
Once the fruit is golden it can be be harvested leaving the central fruit spike. This should be allowed to slowly wither and die back before being trimmed down to the base as pictured on the left. You may find at this stage that the leaf tips appear to die back as well particularly over the winter months. This is not a problem and can be trimmed if desired to keep the plant looking tidy.
Now it is just a waiting game. In our experience it will take from 1 to 12 months for side shoots to start to develop from the base as pictured. In some cases they can also develop from the middle of the plant instead, but either way these secondary plantlets should be left to mature on the mother plant as long as possible.
Pineapples do not fruit again from the original plant but from these side shoots and in order to give them the most nutrients they are best removed from the mother plant to form a completly new and independent plant. If they were left on the mother plant they would eventually form a flower and fruit but they are likely to be unstable and much smaller than if they are separated. Once the side shoots or 'ratoon' pineapples are at least 10cm or 4 inches high they are ready to be repotted. We have experimented with different ways of removing the plantlets and we have found the easiest way is to use a sharp knife and try to remove the plant and also a small portion of the mother plants root system. However even if you remove the plant bud without any roots they do seem to grow new roots quite readily so dont' worry if you find this a bit tricky or nerve racking! Choose a rich potting compost and a pot at least 12cm in diameter. Add some broken pots, perlite or grit to aid drainage, firm them in well, water thoroughly and place on a warm sunny windowsill. The 3rd picture in the sequence shows a ratoon pineapple plant doing well 9 months after it's removal from the mother plant and 18months from first appearance at the base of the plant.
The mother plant is still worth nurturing and if kept warm and watered will continue to produce plantlets. Over time the leaves will turn brown and can be trimmed and eventually removed without effecting the productivity of the plant. The 4th picture shows a plant 3 years from fruiting with none of it's orginal leaves but with its 9th and 10th plantlet ready for transplanting!
At the moment our oldest ratoons are 2 years old and we are hoping they will flower
next year. In the meantime we would love to hear about your own experiences of growing
these fascinating plants -
Have you managed to get a plantlet to flower? or fruit? Contact us now We'd love to hear from you.
Don't forget pineapple plants in fruit are available as gifts for delivery from March to September
Order now online or on 0845 226 8026