Pineapple is an exotic fruit that only grows in tropical biomes. This dense but fruity delight requires sunny conditions for optimum growth. The tropical flora is known for its enormous biodiversity when it comes to fruits, making one wonder how do pineapples grow? Do they grow on trees? Or off the ground? It’s time to settle the mystery.
Do Pineapples Grow on the Trees or in the Ground?
How do pineapples grow is often a mystery to most temperate regions with different kinds of vegetation. It’s unlikely for you to ever come across a pineapple plant unless you’re in Florida or Hawaii.
Pineapples do not grow on trees, they grow on shrubs that are intricately woody plants that can reach up to 8m or approximately 26ft in height. The pineapple itself is a fusion of about 100 to 200 individual unpollinated flowers.
Every segment on the skin of the pineapple was once a separate flower. Because it’s formed from a cluster of flowers, it’s regarded as a multiple fruit. Other examples of multiple fruits include mulberries, jackfruit, and breadfruit.
The pineapple plant consists of thick swordlike leaves that sometimes have tapered ends, chaotically spun around a central stem. The leaves can reach up to 3–4ft in length. And the pineapple fruit grows out of the top of the central stem.
How Long Does It Take to Grow?
It takes between 16 and 24 months for the flowers to converge into a pineapple, so you’ll start seeing fruits in under 2 years. However, the commercial pineapple varieties that you find at supermarkets, usually Smooth Cayenne, are grown in 32-46 month crop cycles. It takes roughly 3 years for the fruit to fully develop its sweet and juicy flavor so the harvest tends to be quite slow.
The History of Pineapple
The exact whereabouts of the plant is still unknown, but botanists seem to agree it originates from the Parana River Drainages between Brazil and Paraguay. It’s also unknown how the plant was domesticated across the continent but it’s believed to have been exported to the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico and cultivated by the Mayans.
The first Europeans to come across pineapples were Columbus and his crewmates in Guadeloupe sometime around 1493. It was later introduced to India by 1550 via the Portuguese who brought them over from Brazil because India also had the ideal climatic conditions to grow pineapples.
Today, India contributes to more than 7% of the global supply of pineapples. In fact, Asia is now the continent that accounts for a vast majority of the pineapples grown each year.
The Life Cycle of a Pineapple
Every pineapple plant will only produce one fruit before it dies. However, the crowns of the fruit, along with many other parts of the plant, can be harvested at maturity to grow more plants and get more pineapples.
Pineapples grow from the offsets of the root of a mature plant or the leafy crown of the fruit. They don’t come from seeds. To grow a pineapple, you’ll need to buy a pineapple fruit, cut off the crown, and plant it.
But then how do pineapples grow in the wild? There are 3 other parts of a mature pineapple plant you could also use to reproduce the vegetation apart from the crown. This is useful to know if you’re ever planning to start a farm because every plant will only produce one pineapple before it dies.
There are the slips that grow from the stem under the fruit, suckers that grow from the leaf’s base, and ratoons that are small offsets that grow from the stem below the soil. All of these, when planted separately, can result in entirely new pineapple fruit. This is usually how the vegetation spreads in wild conditions.
It takes at least 2 years for the plant to reach full maturity, but you should start to see the multi-fruit formation around 16 months in. It’s considered ripe for harvesting once the scales of the fruit go from green to a bright golden yellow.
How To Grow A Pineapple
You start by planting the crown of a pineapple fruit into the ground. The first thing to form will be the roots of the new plant. Once it has developed a root system to absorb moisture and nutrients, the foliage can start to grow.
Pineapples also require strong sunlight throughout the day to maintain a healthy growth pace and temperatures between 65-85 ℉. You cannot grow pineapples in cold or cloudy regions.
The soil you use to grow it will require monthly maintenance of soluble houseplant fertilizer to nourish the soil for a healthier plant. You should be cautious not to go with high-quality soils because pineapples have different requirements. Being tropical plants that tend to grow in harsh conditions, they get most of their nutrients and water from their leaves.
Gardening Tips for Growing Pineapples
Here are some important facts and tips for growing pineapples.
#1. A pineapple fruit does not ripen any further after being harvested.
#2. Each plant will only produce 1 fruit and over a cycle lasting 2-3 years.
#3. Pineapples have tough leaves to minimize water loss through transpiration. It’s an adaptation they developed for surviving in hot climates so they don’t require much watering.
#4. Overwatering pineapples might actually be detrimental to their growth.
#5. Pineapples require a full day’s sun every day, so if you don’t live in a sunny region, you might need to consider purchasing a UV lighting system.
#6. Pineapples don’t need high-quality soil to grow. Overfertilizing the soil can cause malnutrition and stunt the plant’s growth.
#7. There are 37 varieties of pineapples grown across the world that have unique flavors and textures. However, they all belong to one species, Ananus Comosus.
A Few Parting Words
Hope you’ve got answers to some of your questions about how do pineapples grow. They don’t require much care or effort to grow but the tradeoff is patience, because it will take years to see the fruits of your labor. You can even grow them on your balcony or if you have a greenhouse that would be the best.