Saturday, 16 April 2016

Jane's April Presentation - Pineapple

The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is one of the few edible species of the 2,000 that make up the bromeliad family.

They are thought to have originated in Brazil and Paraguay. By the end of the 16th century, Portuguese and Spanish explorers introduced pineapples into many of their Asian, African and South Pacific colonies - cpountries in which pineapples are still grown today.

Lutheran missionaries introduced the pineapple to Australia in the 1830's and it now grows predominantly along the coast of Queensland. 

King Charles II

In the 1600's, the pineapple remained so uncommon, and such a coveted commodity, that King Charles II of England posed for an official portrait in an act then symbolic of royal privilege - receiving a pineapple as a gift.

The Welcome Fruit
Pineapples are traditionally a welcome gift in the tropics. Centuries ago however, modes of transportation were relatively slow and fresh pineapples (being perishable) were a rare luxury and coveted delicacy.

The fresh pineapple was highly sought after, becoming a true symbol of prestige and social class. In fact, the pineapple, because of its rarity and expense, was such a status item that all a party hostess had to do was to display the fruit as part of a decorative centrepiece and she would be awarded much social awe and recognition.

Colonial confectioners sometimes rented pineapples to households by the day. Later, the same fruit was sold to other, more affluent clients who actually ate it.

During the 20th century, the pineapple primarily symbolized hospitality.

American Sea Captains placed the fruit outside their homes to signal to friends that they had returned after a voyage. It was this act that began the trend of stone pineapples being placed at the entrance of fine properties.

This Pineapple fountain can be found in
Charleston, South Carolina, USA>
This building can be seen in
Dunmore, Scotland

Growing Pineapples  (for local growing conditions please see this link from March 2016)

Pineapples are best suited to humid coastal lowlands in tropical and subtropical regions of northern and eastern Australia.
When planting pineapples in the ground, it's important to plant them into a ridge or raised bed. Pineapples must have free drainage. They also love well composted soil that's been mulched on the surface - use sugar cane, lucerne or straw.

Green pineapples are immature and toxic. It's only when they have developed the classic orange colour that they're ready to eat. They're full of sugar, so if you forget to harvest them, rats and ants will do it for you.

Pineapples contain a compound called bromelain and eating a fresh pineapple full of bromelain induces a feel of well being.

To grow a pineapple plant, all you need is a fresh pineapple.

Look for one with firm, green leaves that have not turned yellow or brown. The skin on the fruit should be golden brown and firm to the touch. Smell the pineapple to see if it's ripe: it should emit a sweet, heady smell indicating that you've chosen it at just the right time to start a new pineapple plant.

Make sure the pineapple isn't under-ripe. It needs to be ripe in order to produce another pineapple. To check that a pineapple isn't too ripe tug a little at the leaves, if they come right off, the pineapple is too ripe to plant.

Make sure that the pineapple doesn't have scale insects around the base of the leaves, they look like small grayish spots.

Twist the leaves off the top of the pineapple. Grasp the body of the pineapple with one hand and use the other to grab the leaves at the base and twist them off. This method ensures that the base of the leaves will stay intact. It will be attached to a minimum amount of fruit, which you don't need in order for the plant to grow. If you're having trouble twisting off the top, you can slice off the top of the pineapple.  Slice off the excess fruit around the root.

Make sure the base, the very tip of the area where the leaves join together, stays intact. New roots will be sprouting from this, and without it the plant won't grow.

Strip off some of the lower leaves to expose the stem. Thjis helps the stem sprout roots once it is planted. Strip until a few inches of the stem are exposed. Cut away any remaining fruit without damaging the stem.

Turn it upside down and let it dry for a week. The scars where you made a cut and removed the leaves will harden, which is necessary before you take the next step.

Fill a large glass with water. The mouth of the glass should be large enough to fit the pineapple crown inside, but small enough so that you can prop it up to keep it from getting completely submerged.

Stick a few toothpicks into the pineapple crown. Place them across from each other near the top of the stem. Push them in just far enough so that they'll stay in place. These toothpicks are used to suspend the pineapple crown in the glass of water.

Put the crown in the water. The toothpicks should rest on the rim of the glass. The stem should be submerged in the water, and the leaves should stick out the top.

Place the glass in a sunny window and wait for the roots to sprout. It should take several days or up to a few weeks for white roots to poke out and begin to grow. Keep the plant away from extreme temperatures. Don't let it get too hot or too cold. Change the water every few days to prevent the growth of mould.

Plant the crown when the roots are a few inches long. Wait until they've gotten long enough to take root in soil. If you plant the crown too early it won't do well. Press the soil firmly around the base of the crown without getting any soil on the leaves.

Look for flowers. It can take several years, but eventually a red cone should appear from the centre of the leaves, followed by blue flowers and eventually a fruit. It takes about six months for the fruit to fully develop. The pineapple will grow from the flower, above ground, in the centre of the plant.

Ornamental Pineapple Plant (Ananas bracteatus 'Striatus')

Gardeners grow ornamental pineapple varieties as landscape plants or house plants. These plants occasionally produce pineapples, but the fruit is not generally considered flavourful.


Ornamental pineapple plants grow to a height of 2 to 3 feet and a width of 2 to 4 feet. The leaves may have spiny or smooth edges, depending on the hybrid or cultivar. They're often green or grey-green with pink, white or yellow spripes running lengthwise up the leaves. Ornamental pineapples bloom occasionally, producing small red or deep pink flowers that cover a thick stalk at the centre of the plant. The stalk might turn into a small pink pineapple after the plant finishes blooming.

You can use them in flower arrangements or even as exotic drink stirrers!

Cultivars such as Variegatus and Porteanus have been specifically developed with ornamental use in mind, so they feature striking, colourful leaves and larger flowers.



Water the plant freely during the growing season and when the flowering stalk is present. The soil should remain moist from spring to autumn. Pouring the water over the entire plant allows water to run into leaf gaps and crevices and drain away to the soil below.

In winter, reduce watering so that the soil remains barely moist and dries out between watering. Since the soil is fertile and contains organic matter, do not worry about fertilizing the pineapple. In fact, too much fertilizer causes fast growth and often limits the plant's ability to create a flower stalk. Fertilizers containing cooper nutrients are general fatal.

When the pineapple reaches a mature age, the centre of the rosette of spiny leaves produces a flower stalk. For some the stalk elongates and rises above the foliage to reveal a rounded cluster of lilac to red flowers with yellow bracts, resembling a pine cone. Other plants have long slender flower sprays. For the pineapple type after the flowers, the ovaries swell into plump, pulpy masses to create a small pineapple fruit with a large crown of foliage. The flower stalk may remain fully erect or eventually bends over to allow the mature fruit to drop to the soil below, where it will root and become a new plant. Consider staking the stalk to keep the plant looking more ornate and keep watering it during this time, so that the flower and fruits do not abort prematurely.


Thank you Jane for an excellent presentation. 

Pineapples grow really well here on the Coffs Coast. One CHGC member at Emerald Heights has grown pineapples along a north facing brick wall in pots with great success.

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