Pineapple, represented scientifically as Ananas comosus, is a fruit-bearing, herbaceous, perennial plant. Belonging to the family Bromeliaceae, it is native to the tropical and subtropical regions, but pineapple plant can be grown in temperate climates too, under controlled conditions. In modern pineapple cultivation, asphalt-impregnated mulch paper is used by laying over the well-drained soil. The pineapple propagating pieces are then introduced into the soil through the paper. More than 15,000 plants can be fitted per acre of land.
From the gardening point of view, pineapple plants require very low maintenance as compared to other fruit plants. Hence, growing them is very easy. All you need to do is, cut of the upper leafy portion (crown) of the fruit along with 1 - 2 inches of the juicy part and place it in soil. To induce rooting, you can place the crown in water for some days without dipping the leaves. When the roots develop, place it in the garden soil or containers, as per your convenience. You can consider growing pineapple in containers if the climate in your area is cold.
Pineapple plant can grow in any type of soil, provided that it is well-drained and rich in organic nutrients. For early and good harvest, plant it in sandy loam soil with good drainage. The pH of the soil should be between 4.5 - 6.5. In case of soil or potting mixture with higher pH value, you can mix sulfur (appropriate amount) in order to achieve the desired acidity. Supplement the soil with farmyard compost or organic fertilizers.
If you are growing pineapple plants in pots or containers, you can choose a small one (about 8 - 12 inch diameter) as pineapple have a shallow root system. Heavy pots like ceramic ones are the best option, as the foliage may cause leaning of the plants in lighter containers.
Native to the tropical regions, pineapple plants grow best in optimum light conditions. In order to ensure that the plants receive maximum sunlight, you can plant them in the sunny area of the garden or south direction of the house. They require sunlight exposure for at least for 6 hours a day for better growth.
Pineapple plants grow well in tropical and subtropical climatic condition. The favorable temperature range is between 60 - 75 degrees F. For the tropical climatic condition, the plants can be left outdoors throughout the year. Otherwise, protect the plants from frost.
Once pineapple plants are well-established, irrigate them once in a week. Over watering should be strictly avoided, otherwise it can lead to root rotting problem. Along with watering the planting soil, mist the leaves occasionally. Doing so helps in maintaining adequate humidity for the plants.
Protecting pineapple plants from extreme low temperature and frosting is imperative to avoid unwanted damage. So, if your area is subjected to extreme cold in winter, ensure that you make arrangements for protection. Those planted outside can be covered with plastic sheets, while the potted ones should be brought inside.
Supplement the soil with farmyard compost in spring and summer season, when the pineapple plants are performing at their best. You can add solid or liquid fertilizer once in a month. On the contrary, do not fertilize in fall and winter, as they remain inactive during these seasons.
Talking about diseases reported in pineapple plants, pink disease, heart rot, root rot, black rot, yellow spot virus, and fruitlet core rot are some examples. Basically, they are caused by bacteria and fungi, while a few of them are viral diseases. Based on the causal organism and severity, fungicide and pesticide can be used for controlling diseases.
The most common pest problem with pineapple plants is attack by mealybugs. Usually, they are spread to the plants by the ants. Hence, controlling the ants is a better option in order to get rid of these destructive bugs. Other damaging pineapple pests include scales, symphilids, mites, thrips, beetles, and nematodes. Using soapy water is an effective and reliable approach to remove these pests.
In a nutshell, growing pineapple requires a lot of patience as the plant bears fruit after 2 - 3 years of plantation. In the first year, the plant produces green healthy foliage. The leaves are serrated and grow about 20 - 70 inch length. In the second year of plantation, the plant produces a flowering stalk that bears fruits later. A pineapple fruit (after emergence) requires about six months to mature. These sequence of events and/or fruit bearing duration may vary depending upon the variety and the growing conditions.