Pineapple Update


Pineapple Germplasm

June 18, 2014: I received 4 pineapple germplasm specimens from the USDA. From left to right: Cayenne Hilo, Natal, Spanish Samoa, and Cultivade Parana Pichuna.


Pineapple Germplasm

June 25, 2014: Cayenne Hilo, Cultivade Parana Pichuna, Spanish Samoa, and Natal


Gold crown growing in 5 gallon pot

June 18, 2014: Gold crown growing well in 5 gallon pot.


White Jade pineapple plants

June 7, 2014: White Jade pineapple plants growing in 1/2 gallon pots.


Queen Victoria

June 7, 2014: Gold sucker plant with fruit growing in a 5 gallon bucket.


Queen Victoria

May 10, 2014: Queen Victoria was transplanted to a 3 gallon pot.


Gold crown planted in 5 gallon pot

April 11, 2014: A large gold crown was planted in a 5 gallon pot.


Sugarloaf pineapple

April 5, 2014: Sugarloaf growing well.


Gold Inflorescence

April 1, 2014: This huge Gold sucker plant flowered without being forced.


Harvested Gold fruit

March 26, 2014: Gold fruit was harvested. It had the perfect balance of sugar and acid.


Queen Victoria

March 23, 2014: Since this Queen Victoria plant was started from a small crown, it will take 24 months or more to reach flowering size.


My pineapple collection

March 20, 2014: I moved my pineapple plant collection to my new home.


Newly planted Sugarloaf crown

November 23, 2013: Sugarloaf crown has rooted and growing well. It should reach flowering size by the end of 2014.


Sugarloaf in fruit

October 7, 2013: Next year's crop will be borne on these two Gold Hybrid pineapple plants.


Sugarloaf in fruit

October 7, 2013: Sugarloaf fruit was harvested from plant. The fruit was very sweet with white to pale yellow, melting flesh!


Kaua'i Sugarloaf with side shoot

October 3, 2013: Kaua'i Sugarloaf offshoot growing vigorously.


Kaua'i Sugarloaf crown

August 6, 2013: This crown was taken from a Kaua'i White Sugarloaf fruit I ordered online from Hawaii. Since the growing point was removed ( crown gouging ), this crown will have to sprout side shoots from the leaf axils to grow.


Kona Sugarloaf with fruit

July 29, 2013: Sugarloaf fruit is gradually increasing in size.


Gold crown doing extremely well.

July 7, 2013: Gold crown doing extremely well.


Gold sucker plant growing well.

July 7, 2013: Gold sucker plant growing well.


Flowering has ceased and fruit development has begun.

July 4, 2013: Flowering has ceased and fruit development has begun.


Sugarloaf plant with inflorescence in center.

June 24, 2013: Sugarloaf plant flowering. Notice the small shoots (slips ) growing below on the peduncle. These slips were later removed so more energy can go into fruit development.


Six slips removed from plant.

June 27, 2013: Six slips were removed.


Gold sucker and Gold crown

April 27, 2013: Gold sucker (left) and Gold crown (right). The sucker plant should reach flowering size in March 2014. The crown should be ready to flower in January 2014.


Huge sugarloaf plant

March, 2013: Huge sugarloaf plant will be ready for forcing in May 2013.


Gold crown growing well

March, 2013: Gold crown growing well.


A newly planted Gold Extra Sweet pineapple crown

October 27, 2012: This Gold crown from the previous harvest was planted in a 3 gallon pot.


Gold Extra Sweet pineapple plant with ripe fruit

October 19, 2012: Gold pineapple fruit is ready to be harvested!


Gold Extra Sweet pineapple plant with fruit

Picture taken September 8, 2012


Gold Extra Sweet pineapple plant

July 26, 2012: Gold pineapple has finished flowering and fruit development has begun!


Gold Extra Sweet pineapple plant in flower

July 3, 2012: Gold pineapple has started flowering.


New Sugarloaf plant

I bought this large Sugarloaf plant in May 2012 from Botanical Growers Network . It was transplanted to a 12" (5 gallon) pot.


Gold Extra Sweet pineapple crown

Gold Extra Sweet (MD-2 hybrid) April 22, 2012. This mature plant measures over 4 feet wide and 31" high. It was forced on May 14 with calcium carbide.




Plant Description


Gold hybrid bearing fruit.

Pineapple Collection 2013


The pineapple (Ananas comosus) belongs to the bromeliaceae family. It is a terrestrial (soil growing) bromeliad, and it is native to the tropical and warm subtropical regions of Brazil and Paraguay.

The pineapple is a slow-growing, herbaceous, perennial. It has a short stem which is covered by long, narrow, sword-shaped leaves arranged in a rosette pattern. Some varieties have spines along the leaf edges. The plant grows about 3 feet (100cm) in height and spreads up to 6 feet (183cm). A large plant can have as many as 80 leaves. At the time of flowering, a flower stalk appears from the plant's center bearing a reddish cone-shaped leaf cluster. A purple or red flower appears between each leaf. Flowering starts from the bottom and progresses towards the top. No special pollination is required. The fruit is seedless; however, if two different varieties are grown near each other, the cross pollination produces tiny black seeds. The fruit slowly develops and ripens in 4 to 5 months after flowering.


Crown Preparation



Queen Victoria crowns


Sugarloaf crown


Obtain a pineapple fruit that has an unbruised, dark green leafy crown. Hold the fruit and grab the crown at the base and remove it by twisting it off. Pull a few of the bottom leaves off until 3/4" to 1" ( 1.9 to 2.5cm) of the stem is exposed. Along the exposed stem, roots will form. Set the crown aside for a few days in a warm, airy place out of direct sunlight until a callous forms. After that, the crown is ready to be planted.

Planting

Plant crown in a 10" (25cm) or 12" (30cm) pot. Any soil mix that is well-drained, moisture retentive, and acidic with a high organic matter content can be used. Gently firm the soil up around the crown's base to support it. Move to a warm, bright area with filtered sunlight. Keep the soil moist, not wet. About 4 to 8 weeks later, the leaves will begin to grow out. Gradually introduce to full sun.

Fertilizing

Pineapple plants have a high demand for nitrogen and potassium. They grow very well when needed elements are supplied at a slow, constant rate. Apply a slow release, non-burning dry fertilizer to the soil every 3 months or water with a very weak fertilizer solution at every watering.

If you're into organic gardening, there are several organic fertilizers you can use. Bat guano, feather meal, and blood meal are rich sources of nitrogen. Rock phosphate, steamed bone meal, and bat guano supply phosphorus. Sul-Po-Mag supplies potassium, magnesium, and sulphur. Rock powders such as Azomite or Green Glacier supply all necessary trace minerals to feed both plant and soil. Seaweed extract and Kelp meal are excellent growth enhancers. Worm castings or aged compost can be added to improve soil structure and plant growth.

Watering

There seems to be a common misconception that all bromeliads like water poured in the center of the plant. This is NOT true! The "tank" bromeliads, like Aechema fasciata, need water held in the center. When water remains in the center of a pineapple plant, it can lead to rot. Water the soil thoroughly until it drains into the bottom saucer. Don't let water stand in saucer. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.

Bromeliads like the pH of the water to be slightly acidic. Check with your local water department to find out about the pH. If your water is hard (alkaline), add 2 tbsp of vinegar per gallon of water.

Temperature/Humidity

Pineapples enjoy evenly warm temperatures all year long. A warm growing environment with a daily average temperature between 75°F (24°C) and 80°F (26°C) is optimal for excellent growth and fruiting. Move plants outdoors when both days and nights are consistently warm. Plants can tolerate occasional lows in the 50's (10°C - 15°C), but prefer 60's (16°C - 20°C). Highs should be 75°F to 90°F (24°C to 32°C). When temperatures reach 90°F (32°C) or more, plants should be placed in filtered sunlight to avoid sunburn.

Humidity can be a problem indoors during the heating season. The humidity level should be maintained at 50% to 55%. A room humidifier placed on a timer provides an effective way of maintaining humidity levels.

Light



Sugarloaf fruiting under T5HO fixture


Plants growing under T5HO fixture

Plants are grown under a six bulb T5 high output fluorescent lighting fixture. Each bulb is 54 watts, 5,000 lumens with a color temp of 5000K.


Having adequate light indoors is absolutely essential for good growth and fruiting. Pineapple plants require at least 12 hours of bright light a day. Artificial lighting can be used as the only light source or a supplementation to natural daylight.

High intensity discharge, T5 high output, and T5 very high output lighting systems are excellent choices for growing pineapples. Check out my online garden suppliers page.

When it is time for your pineapple plant to go outdoors for the summer or indoors for the winter, it needs to be acclimated to its new environment. The plant should gradually be introduced to more shade over a period 3 weeks before going indoors. When going outdoors, place plant under a shade cloth or in an area that only receives the weak morning or evening sun. Over a period of 3 weeks, gradually introduce to more sunlight.

Pruning

When leaves start getting out of bounds, prune them back with a sharp pair of scissors. Cut the leaf straight across then shape the cut like an arrow. This will make the pruned leaf look more natural. To remove yellowing and dead leaves, split them straight down the middle and pull apart from the stem.

Pests and Diseases

Indoor pineapple plants are not usually bothered by many pests or diseases. However, mealy bugs and scale insects do attack them. These pests can be effectively controlled by using a 1% to 2% light horticultural oil spray or neem oil.

Fungus gnats can be a real nuisance indoors. They love damp areas and moist soil rich in organic matter. The adults fly around and lay eggs in the soil. Then a few days later, the larvae emerge damaging young roots. There are two effective controls: biological, Gnatrol WDG, and predatory mites, Hypoaspis, that feed on gnat larvae.

Diseases that appear on indoor pineapple plants are sometimes due to incorrect cultural practices. Overwatering can cause root rot. Heart rot can happen if water is poured and allowed to stay in the plant's center for long periods of time. Leaves staying wet from misting without adequate air circulation can encourage leaf spot disease if spores are present.

Anthracnose is a fungal disease which attacks the leaves. When conditions are favorable ( cool and wet ), it first appears as a brown patch or streak on the underside of the leaf. Then, the leaf's surface becomes discolored with pale yellow to brown spots. An effective preventative and control for this disease is neem oil.


Troubleshooting Pineapples
Symptoms Probable Causes Solutions
Leaf edges curl under Low humidity, underwatering, acclimation Buy humidifier to increase relative indoor humidity, water when the top 2" (5cm) of soil is moderately dry, gradually introduce plant to new environment
Brown spots on leaves Fertilizer burn, salts in water Fertilizer should be slow release, use distilled water or clean rainwater
Small brown or black lesions on leaves Fungal infection, Anthracnose Cool, wet conditions favor growth, avoid wetting leaves, temps above 80°F retard fungal growth, use neem oil or biofungicide
No plant growth Cool temps, underwatering, overwatering, low light or not enough light A mean temp between 75°F (24°C) and 80°F (26°C) is optimal for excellent growth, check rootball, water when the top 2" (5cm) of soil is moderately dry, move to brighter area
Brown leaf tips Low humidity, fertilizer burn, underwatering Buy humidifier to increase humidity, fertilizer should be slow release to avoid burning, water when the top 2" (5cm) of soil is moderately dry
Fruit not large  Plant was forced to bloom when young, inadequate leaf surface  Force bloom when the plant has a minimum of 35 mature leaves on it. Plant should measure 2 to 4 feet across depending on variety. This insures a decent fruit size.  
Yellowish, white, or red spots on leaves  Mealy bugs or scale insects Look for pests in the leaf axils and treat with a light oil spray or neem oil. 
Lower leaves yellow and dry up  Underwatering, rootbound, acclimation (high light to low light), dimming artificial light   Water when the top 2" (5cm) of soil is moderately dry, check rootball and repot if necessary, gradually introduce plant to a new environment, change light bulb  
Yellow-green leaves  Nitrogen deficiency, root rot, improper acclimation- low light to high light   Use a 2-1-2 ratio fertilizer preferable organic, check rootball and let it moderately dry out between waterings, gradually introduce plant to a new environment  


Flowering and Fruiting


Gold pineapple blooming

Gold pineapple blooming

Gold pineapple blooming

Gold pineapple blooming


Flowering occurs naturally in mature plants when the days are short and cool. However, pineapple plants seldom flower on their own under indoor cultivation. A technique called "forcing" has to be used to initiate the flowering cycle.

Forcing can be achieved by using plant growth regulators, calcium carbide, acetylene gas, or ethylene gas.

Chemical growth regulators such as Ethephon, Florel, and Omaflora are used commercially and are not available for retail sale.

Calcium carbide needs to be handled with caution. A small lump is added to the plant's center, then water is added. A violent reaction takes place releasing acetylene gas (flammable) into the air and water.

Ethylene gas is produced naturally from apples, pears, peaches, and other fruits. To maximize ethylene exposure, place ripening fruit at base of plant for one week. Approximately 45 days later, a flower cluster should appear in the plant's center.

Forcing is most effective when done during cool to moderate temperatures (60's to low 70's/16°C-23°C) and at night.


Harvesting


'Gold Hybrid fruit

Sugarloaf pineapple fruit harvested in October 2013.



'Gold Hybrid fruit

Sugarloaf pineapple sliced in half and crown.



'Gold Hybrid fruit

Gold Hybrid pineapple fruit harvested in October 2012.



'Hilo White' harvested fruit

Hilo White pineapple fruit harvested in 2008.


'White-fleshed pineapple fruit

Hilo White pineapple fruit sliced in half.



For maximum sweetness and flavor, it is best to pick the fruit when it is fully ripe. Once the fruit is harvested, it will not improve in quality! Depending upon the variety grown, a ripe pineapple can either be yellow-orange, orange-red, yellow, red, green, or purple. To harvest fruit, use a sharp knife or pruning shears and cut stalk one inch below the fruit.


Propagation



Gold mother plant producing suckers

Gold mother plant with one large and one small sucker growing at the plant's base.


Harvested slip

This slip was growing from the fruit's base.


sucker shoot

A sucker growing from the mother plant.


Harvested sucker

Harvested sucker cut from plant.


Harvested sucker

Healthy roots have begun to form at the base.


Hilo White sucker

Harvested Hilo White sucker was potted in a 3 gallon pot.


Harvested crown

Hilo White pineapple crown was potted in a 1 gallon pot.


Mother plant root system

Healthy root system of the mother plant.


Pineapple plants, like all bromeliads, slowly fade away after flowering. Before this happens, the plants will produce one or more types of leafy offshoots: crowns, slips, suckers, and ratoons. Crowns are shoots which grow on the tops of the pineapple fruits. Slips are shoots which grow on the flowering stalk. Suckers are shoots which originate from the leaf axil on the stem above ground, and ratoons are suckers that grow from the stem below soil level.

Crowns should be the first type of propagating material used if you want to establish new plants quickly. Suckers and ratoons are generally larger, stronger, and bear fruits sooner. Remove suckers with a sharp, serrated knife when they're at least half the size of the mother plant. Plant suckers the same way as crowns. Slips can be numerous on some pineapple varieties, like as Sugarloaf. If you want your fruit to be as large as possible remove them before they fully develop. If you want more plants, allow them to grow at least 4 to 6 inches (10 cm to 15 cm ) before removal.


Varieties 


There are hundreds of pineapple varieties but only a few dozen are good enough to be grown on a commercial scale. There are four group classifications a pineapple variety can fall into: Pernambuco, Spanish, Queen, or Cayenne. Each group has some characteristics that are different than the other and there are some differences within the groups as well.

Cayenne or Smooth Cayenne
This plant is large with nearly spineless leaves that take on a reddish coloration in strong light. It can bear fruit weighing up to 6 lbs ( 3 kilos ). The fruit has a good balance of sugar and acid. Cayenne is the main processing and canning variety. Good for fresh eating.

Gold Extra Sweet (MD-2 Hybrid)
This variety is a hybrid of Smooth Cayenne. It has become the commercial standard in the industry. The plant is large and vigorous with nearly spineless, stiff leaves. The fruit can weigh up to 4 lbs ( 2 kilos ), and it has an yellow-orange shell when ripe. The flesh is yellow, very sweet, juicy and low in acid. Outstanding for fresh eating! Highly recommended!

Natal Queen
This plant is small and compact with spiny leaves that become tinged with a reddish-purple coloration in strong light. The fruit weighs up to 2 lbs ( 1 kilo ) and has a golden-yellow shell when ripe. The flesh is yellow, sweet, and pleasantly crisp. It stores very well. Good for fresh eating.

Red Spanish
This variety is grown mostly in the Caribbean. The plant is medium-sized, vigorous with spiny leaves that become tinged with a reddish coloration in strong light. The fruit has an orange-red shell when ripe and can weigh 2 to 4 lbs ( 1 to 2 kilos ). The flesh is pale yellow, pleasantly sweet, low acid, fragrant, and rich.

Abacaxi
This variety is grown mostly in Brazil. The plant is vigorous with spiny leaves that become tinged with a reddish coloration in strong light. The fruit is conical-shaped and can weigh up to 6 lbs. When ripe, the shell color is dark green with yellow eyes. The flesh is tender, white, sweet, low acid, and rich. Outstanding for fresh eating!

Antigua Black
This variety is grown mostly in the Caribbean. The plant is vigorous with spiny leaves that become tinged with a reddish coloration in strong light. The fruit is conical-shaped with a dark green to orange shell when fully ripe. It can weigh up to 4 lbs ( 2 kilos ). The flesh is firm, yellow, sweet, low acid, and rich. Outstanding for fresh eating!

Pérola
This variety is grown extensively in Brazil. The plant is medium-sized and a vigorous grower with spiny, dark green leaves. It produces conical-shaped fruit weighing up to 2 lbs ( 1 kilo ). The fruit has a green shell with yellow eyes when ripe. The flesh is white, tender, fragrant, high in sugar, and rich in flavor. Outstanding for fresh eating!

Hilo White or Cayenne Hilo
Mainly grown in Hilo, Hawaii. This plant is vigorous with completely spineless leaves that become reddish-tinged in bright light. It can produces fruit weighing up to 3 lbs ( 1.5 kilos ). The fruit has a orange-yellow shell when ripe. The flesh is white to pale yellow, firm, juicy, high in sugar, no acid, rich in flavor with a tender, edible core. Outstanding for fresh eating. Highly recommended!

Sugarloaf
There are several types of Sugarloaf plants. For example, a pineapple named 'Sugarloaf' in Hawaii may not be the same plant growing in Florida of the same name. Some plants have spiny leaves and while others are smooth. They all produce fruits that are conical or cylindrical in shape and may weigh up to 6 lbs ( 3 kilos ). The flesh is white to pale yellow, high in sugar, low in acid, with tender, edible cores. When ripe, the shell color is either green with yellow eyes or completely yellow-orange. Plants are vigorous growers producing many slips and/or suckers. Outstanding for fresh eating. Highly recommended!

Kaua'i White Sugarloaf
From the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i, this plant is vigorous with completely spineless green leaves that become tinged with purple in bright light. It produces cylindrical-shaped fruit weighing up to 4 lbs ( 2 kilos ). The flesh is firm, white, high in sugar, no acid, with a tender, edible core. When ripe, the shell color is green with yellow eyes. Outstanding for fresh eating. Highly recommended!

White Jade
This plant is vigorous with spineless leaves that take on a reddish tinged in bright light. It produces cylindrical-shaped fruit weighing up to 4 lbs ( 2 kilos ). The flesh is tender, white, high in sugar, low in acid with an edible core. When ripe, the shell color is yellow-orange. Outstanding for fresh eating. Highly recommended!

Pernambuco
This plant has spiny leaves and produces fragrant fruit that weighs 2 to 4 lbs ( 1 to 2 kilos ). The fruit has a greenish-yellow shell when ripe. The flesh is white to pale yellow, juicy, tender, high in sugar, rich in flavor with a tender, edible core. Outstanding for fresh eating!

Queen Victoria a.k.a. Victoria Gourmet or South African Baby
The plant is small and compact with spiny leaves. The fruit is small, weighs up to 1 lb ( .5 kilo ) and it has a yellow-orange shell when ripe. The flesh is yellow, richly flavored, and very sweet with a tender, edible core. Outstanding for fresh eating!


Buy Pineapple Plants

Florida Hill Nursery is located in Debary, Florida. They sell many tropical and subtropical plants including five pineapple varieties.
Botanical Growers Network is located in Gainesville, Florida. They sell many tropical and subtropical plants including 3 pineapple varieties. Plants are shipped directly from the grower.


Buy Fresh Pineapple Fruit

Kaua'i Sugarloaf pineapple fruit delivered fresh right to your door.
Hawaiian Crown offers fresh and dried pineapple fruit shipped right to your door.

Bromeliad Links

Bromeliad Society International

Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies



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Last Revised June 25, 2014