Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Propagating pineapples

Keeping with the theme of propagating (now is the perfect time in Australia to do so) I thought it was time to propagate the four pineapple tops, I had in the kitchen for the past few weeks. Like frangipani's, pineapple tops are best left to callous over any fresh cuts made to stems. Otherwise too much moisture gets in and rots the cutting.

Left for a week, the base of the stalk will callous over ~
these are ready to plant now

Basics are: chop the top off the pineapple, remove excess fruit flesh (I like to leave mine a few days afterwards) then gently peel back the layers of leafs, from the bottom upwards. I've had success stripping back to only a few leafs at the top, but also leaving many on - you just need a good enough stub to grow roots from.

Now leave these newly exposed stubs for at least 3 days. I leave mine for a week!

Then it's just a matter of potting the tops into a soil medium. My mixture is generally potting mix, compost and sand from our gully. You don't even need a large pot to start off with. Mine are just 50mm tube stock pots with a flat base. With all propagating, I find more success when I can bunch plants together to create a micro climate.

Once the roots grow, leafs will become glossy and plump again

Did you know propagating pineapples from their tops, is only one way to do it? In fact, it could be considered the inferior way, as you have no idea how the plant will develop. Anyone who grows commercial fruit, knows you get greater success growing from suckers or slips. These develop on the parent plant, which you've grown for successive years, selecting the best traits for development and not just taste!

Suckers grow between the leaf axis, as shown below. This one is too small to pluck off just yet.

One sucker is desirable, too many will deplete the parent plant ~ remove suckers you don't intend to propagate

I don't want this sucker getting so big however, it will take energy from the developing fruit either. I'll do a later post on propagating with suckers when I'm ready to pot this guy up. As for propagating by slips (they're found under the base of the fruit) and ratoon suckers, I've got some outside links that better describes the process.

Tropical Plants - this is an Australian site with a good description of the process
Ricks Woodshop Creations - an overseas site with links to pineapple recipes too
Texas Citrus & Subtropical Fruits - another overseas site
Purdue University - overseas site, very extensive detail (good read)

I'm having great success with propagating pineapple tops though. I'll soon try propagating suckers, but I'm most looking forward to selecting plants which demonstrate all the best qualities for producing fruit - and I'll only be propagating from those particular plants in future.

Pineapples don't mind other plants, but shade will delay fruiting

It's one thing to shove a few store bought pineapple tops into the ground, it's another to learn what qualities in the plant, best suits your environment though. I'm still learning about all the processes involved. I'm excited at the relationship I'm going to develop with these unique plants in the garden, for many years to come.

Don't let your climate rip you off from trying these plants at home though. They grow well in pots, which can be relocated out of frosts (and snow) during winter. They won't grow as vigorously or produce fruit as quickly, but they're still one of those tough plants worth experimenting with.

Maybe because they take so long to produce fruit, it's quite an exciting time when you see the baby pineapples emerge. It gets me every time. :)


  1. Welcome back - I completely missed your previous post, must have been away. Glad to hear that you are all home and rebuilding your lives and your garden.

    I have 4 or 5 pineapple tops in pots, I msut check to see whether there are any pups to remove. Thanks for the tip

  2. Thanks for dropping in. Nice to be back too! :)

    I would love to see some pictures of your potted pineapples. Perhaps you could do a post on your blog, sharing your experience.

    I had mine live in pots for approximately 12 months, until I found the space I wanted to plant them out. But if you've kept yours in pots (and intend to keep them there) it would be great to hear your inside experience. :)

    There's so much to learn about the beloved pineapple.


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