These tips share how to grow pineapple (Ananas comosus) as a potted plant in your home with the right light, soil, water, and fertilizer. You can also keep the container outdoors during the summer or simply grow the plant indoors all year-round.
If you want to start by propagating your own plant, this shows how to propagate a grocery store pineapple by rooting the top or grow one from seed.
Growing Pineapple Indoors
Pineapple plants (Ananas comosus) make interesting and unusual houseplants for those of us living in cold climates in the United States and Canada.
Because they are tropical plants, they are good candidates for summers outdoors and winter indoors in front of a nice, sunny window or year-round indoor growing.
Whether you start your plant from seed, root a top, or purchase an established plant from a nursery, the instructions for container growing are the same.
- What To Expect
- Planting Pineapple In a Pot
- Growing Conditions
- Pineapple Plant Care
- Flowering & Fruiting
- Harvesting Fruit
What To Expect
If conditions are right, you can go from starting your pineapple plant to producing an actual pineapple fruit in 2 to 3 years. How cool would it be to nurture the plant all the way along to reach harvest right in your livingroom?
Pineapples are terrestrial herbs and grow like shrubs. Planted in a large flower pot or whiskey barrel, the long leaves of the mature plant may reach 2 to 3-feet tall and several feet wide.
Smaller containers restrict growth which results in smaller size fruit. But that may be what you want to suit your space. And, no matter what, it’s fun to try.
The tips here come from researchers, professional growers, and home gardeners. Sometimes the only studies we have to refer to focus on commercial growing practices on farms and in greenhouses. As home gardeners we have to try things out to see what works for us.
To learn more about your specific type of pineapple, check if the cultivar name is listed on the fruit or plant tag.
Here in the US and Canada we see a lot of Del Monte Gold (MD2 variety), Tropical Gold, and a few others.
The pineapple plant (Ananas comosus) also has several other vernacular names depending on where you live including pina, abacaxi, ananas, nanas, sweet pine, and pine.
Should I Grow Pineapple Indoors or Outdoors?
Taking any indoor plant outdoors for the summer has risks and benefits. The benefit is you can often provide better growing conditions, at least for a few months. However, any time you take a houseplant outdoors, you are exposing it to a much greater risk of pests and diseases and potentially damaging weather. If you enjoy a patio jungle, you may feel it’s worth the risk. Otherwise, it will do fine inside year-round.
Planting Pineapple In a Pot
How Long Does it Take to Grow Pineapple?
There are three main growth stages: growing to maturity, flowering, and fruiting, and ripening of fruit. It takes longer if growing conditions are not optimal.
- 14 to 18 months | Time for potted pineapple plant to mature after planting.
- 15 to 22 months | Time after planting for potted pineapple to flower and fruit.
- 27 to 29 months | Time after planting for pineapple fruit to be ripe and ready to harvest.
- Choose a large, clean pot with drainage holes.
Start with the largest container you can. Pineapple plants need ample root space and grow into shrubs with long, sharp leaves. These leaves make them unpleasant to handle while transplanting so the fewer pot changes, the better.
Growth is also slowed if the plant is too crowded. It’s not always realistic or aesthetically pleasing to have a large pot with a young plant but know it’s fine to do if you can.
Plant nurseries often start mature pineapple plants in 1 to 3-gallon pots (3.8 to 11L) measuring 6 to 24-inches deep. This may be all you have room for.
A larger 3-to-7-gallon pot (11 to 26L) can last the lifetime of the plant.
Whatever you use, it must have drainage holes in the bottom as pineapples roots are prone to rot if sitting in water too long.
All containers should be clean and disinfected before use to avoid the transfer of disease.
You’ll also want a large saucer underneath the container to catch surplus water.
- Use new, well-draining potting mix.
In natural settings, pineapple like sandy loam that is well-draining and has plenty of organic matter. That organic matter provides the nutrients that feed the plant.
The ideal pH level is neutral to mildly acidic (4.5 to 6.5). Commercial potting mix will already be in this range.
When growing a pineapple at home in a container, we use new (not repurposed), well-draining potting mix. While we tend to use the words “soil” and “potting mix” interchangeably, we just mean potting mix which is a soil-less medium ideal for container growing.
For nutrients, see the Fertilizer section.
How To Plant
- Add plant to moistened potting mix, keeping leaves above soil level.
Fill container with potting mix to within an inch of the top lip of the pot.
Water potting mix first before adding plant.
Take your rooted top or seedling and bury the roots in the soil, keeping the leaves above the soil line.
Water again and add more potting mix if needed, removing any air pockets.
The first growing stage which takes the plant to maturity, meaning the plant is ready to flower and fruit, can take 14 to 18 months.
- Full sun with temperature between 68°F and 86°F (20-30°C) and 70-80 percent humidity.
Sun, warmth, and consistent watering—without overdoing it—are key. Pineapple is a tropical plant and we want to max out light without burning the leaves or drying out the soil.
If you don’t have a sunny window or worry that the winter light will not be enough, you can always supplement with grow lights.
Pineapples will tolerate temperatures ranging from 65°-95°F (18.33-45°C) but the ideal range is between 68°F and 86°F (20-30°C).
For many of us, that’s a little warmer than we heat our homes in winter so it’s important to find a sunny window (no drafts) to compensate. A sunroom is ideal.
If conditions are too cold or too warm, growth halts or the plant dies.
If you can’t make up for the diminished light, it’s fine to let growth slow down in winter. Just ease up on watering and resume in spring when days are longer once again.
The optimum humidity level is 70 to 80 percent. Unless you have a heated greenhouse, your household humidity levels are likely (and should be) lower than this. Some growers mist their plants daily for this reason.
Pineapple Plant Care
How often you water your pineapple plant will depend entirely on the growing conditions in your home. When the top inch or two of soil is dry, it’s time to water. I rely on a moisture meter to check but you can also push your finger tip into the soil and sense it that way.
Water thoroughly—slowly and deeply—until surplus water comes out the bottom of the container.
Remove any surplus water from saucer 30-minutes after watering.
- Slow-release organic fertilizer twice a year, not during budding and flowering.
We mentioned how pineapple plants like a sandy loam soil with lots of organic matter.
Outdoors that organic matter may come from the addition of compost or composted manure. We don’t normally add things like this to indoor plants because there is always a chance of bringing pests or diseases inside with them.
Instead, we use liquid organic fertilizer (5-5-5 N-P-K) to provide nutrients as needed. Some growers say twice a year is ample, and not to fertilize when the plant is budding or flowering. Others use much smaller doses on a regular basis.
Follow the product instructions for instructions.
Yellow, Pale, or Dead Leaves
It’s rare that a pineapple plant doesn’t have some outer leaves turn yellow or brown and dry out during the course of the plant’s life. It’s also common, but not desirable, that leaf tips brown and dry, probably indicating that watering was not perfect.
Use clean scissors to remove any dead leaves or tips.
If inner leaves are discolored or pale or the plant is unhealthy looking, there could be an issue with light conditions, watering, nutrition, pests, diseases, or some combination of these things.
Flowering & Fruiting
What Pineapple Flowers Look Like
You’ve nurtured your pineapple plant for a couple of years and its finally time for flower to form.
How do you know it’s happening?
A stem will form in the middle of the plant. This stem will gradually elongate, and, as it grows, small flower buds with leaves will form at the crown (tip of the stem).
Depending on the type of pineapple you are growing, there may be green, yellowish, or red bracts (modified leaves) like the ones in the photo.
There is also a chance of multiple heads, depending on the cultivar.
The fruit is actually a whole bunch of individual fruits all joined together. It’s very cool to watch these form over a number of weeks and months.
How Long Will It Take?
If conditions are favorable, it may take your potted pineapple 15-22 months after planting to become mature and ready to flower.
The time from flowering to harvesting fruit may take another 5 to 7 months after that.
You can wait for flowering to occur on its own or push it along with these inducing tips.
I mentioned that shorter days (less light) and dry soil conditions can both slow the growth of the plant but these can also be triggers to induce flowering if the plant is mature.
Winter may cause this naturally. You can also try cutting back on water for a number of weeks to see if that causes a flower stem to form—but only if the plant is mature enough (at least 14 months or older).
Easy does it though: some pineapples will yellow and dry out instead of taking this cue.
Commercial growers have their own tricks for inducing flowers. This includes the use of calcium carbide or various hormones like naphthaleneacetic acid (ANA) or B naphylacetic acid (BNA). These induce the formation of ethylene which in turn gets the flower cycle going.
As said, if you’re in a good growing groove and your plant is nice and healthy, don’t mess with it.
Just continue what you have been doing and wait for the plant to flower when ready.
Once the flower stem is growing, it’s time to consider adding a wood or bamboo stake to support the weight of the (future) fruit.
This will help prevent the fruit from breaking off the plant before it’s ready for harvesting.
This seems like it should be simple but it’s not always obvious when a pineapple is ready for harvesting.
Some home growers say they can tell by the age of the plant along with the color and scent of the fruit. The skin may be golden with the aroma of pineapple fruit. Others warn that those are not always reliable indicators. You can be fooled.
The goal is to pick the fruit right when the starches have converted to sugars since pineapple cannot ripen after picking.
It gets tricky in colder climates because the shorter days of winter could delay fruit maturing by months or more.
I wish I had a tried-and-true tip for the right time to pick but it may come down to your instincts and having a sense of humor if it doesn’t work out as hoped.
Let your plant continue to grow. A healthy pineapple plant will continue to produce more stems, usually from the sides of the main stem or base of the plant (“pups”) and fruit. Those pups can also be propagated as new plants.
- Pineapple Growing in the Florida Home Landscape | University of Florida IFAS Extension (PDF format)
- Pineapple Fruits in Warm Climates | Purdue University
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by Melissa J. Will
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Good luck with your pineapple growing! I hope there’s some fruit in your future.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛