S & J Nursery’s guide to
Growing Pineapple Plants
in the Northeast Florida Garden
Pineapple plants may grow easily here in the Northeast Florida landscape, but getting from plant to fruit is a labor of love to say the least. It isn’t that it is an extremely difficult process, but it does take more knowledge and time to grow successfully than any other plant in my garden! Ok, so maybe my Kiwi plant is taking longer, but I still consider the formation of a large pineapple fruit quite the accomplishment.
From planting to fruit harvest can take anywhere from 14-36 months! If that time frame wasn’t enought to make you run for the hills, consider that in order to get that fruit, growers recommend fertilizing every 8 weeks that is 10-20 times from the time you planted it to the time you cut the fruit!
Then of coarse there is the need for cold protection, we are just a bit North of where pineapples can be planted out and expected to survive on their own. The plants do not tolerate freezes of 28 degrees and below. Many varieties can show damage at temperatures that are above the freezing point at around 35. They will need some protection during hard freezes, a blanket covering the plant that touches the ground on all sides will generally suffice here in the Northeast Florida area. Those of us in the more southern portions, like St. Augustine, near the river, or at the beach may never have to protect a pineapple plant. But those on the North or West side of Jacksonville will likely end up covering them a few times each winter season.
Maybe pineapples at the grocery store aren’t such a bad price after all!
Well if I didn’t run you off, and you still want to plant some pineapple plants in your yard, I will have to say that all the waiting and anticipation really do make you proud of your pineapple when it finally arrives. It is a rewarding experience and I hope you give it a try, you may just surprise yourself and be a pineapple pro!
Foliage, Origins, and Use of Pineapple Plants / Ananas comosus:
Pineapples have been cultivated for thousands of years and are native to South America. The origins of the domesticated pineapple are a little bit more vague. It is thought that the cultivated pineapple began being distributed into other parts of the world in the 1500’s.
The foliage of your pineapple plant should be a nice deep dark green, and is an indicator of the plants health. When it begins to be a pale green or even show hints of yellow oranges and reds, it is past time to fertilize. Fertilization practices for commercial production of pineapples are aimed at the goal of keeping the pineapple plant in the business of producing more leaves. Light but very frequent fertilizer applications (every 8 weeks) are made to keep the plant in its vegetative state producing leaves. The plant will need to produce 70 -80 leaves before it is ready to flower and produce the large pineapple fruit that we all love. Studies have shown that the larger the plant is when it produces the fruit, the larger your fruit will be. So indeed that little extra TLC every other month or so will pay off in the long run. Pineapple plant when fully mature can take up from 2-3 ft of your garden space all the way up to a huge 6 ft area on some varieties.
Pineapples make the perfect refreshing treat and can be eaten fresh, dried, juiced, cooked, as a marinade to make other not so tasty things better, or anyway you like.
Planting Season for Pineapple Ananas comosus in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and surrounding Northeast Florida areas:
Plant your pineapple plant any time of year, the sooner the better!
Pineapples are hermaphroditic but self incompatible, pollen from the same variety of plants planted in close proximity to one another will not produce seedy fruits, but pollen from several varieties planted together will produce fruits with small black seeds if the different type of pineapple plants happen to flower at the same time. Since I was unable to find information on how far apart you would have to plant them, I decided I didn’t care! Feel free to do like me and not worry about it, collecting each new pineapple variety I can get my hands on and plant them wherever you think they may grow best. I will consider it an accomplishment to get seedy fruit considering pineapples only bloom for a about a month. That would mean I had lots of pineapple plants in flower at the same time, a girl can dream!
Sun Exposure for growing Pineapple Ananas comosus :
Plant in full fun, morning sun with afternoon shade or afternoon sun with morning shade. Plants will grow better and faster with the most sun exposure, but the added cold protection from buildings and fences etc. may make planting your pineapple into a part shade / part sun exposure worth the little extra growth time.
Soil Preferences for Pineapple Ananas comosus:
Pineapple plants will prefer fertile sandy loam soils. Do not plant in areas that will hold water after rains. Can be planted easily into a container, although larger is better to give the plant plenty of room without slowing it’s growth.
Care of Pineapple Ananus comosus in the Northeast Florida area:
Watering Your Pineapple Ananus comosus plants:
Newly planted Pineapple plants will require watering daily for the first few days to a week after being transplanted from an S & J Nursery container.
Once the Pineapple plants are established and growing they will normally survive well on their own with the water from local rains. Be sure to water at least once weekly in times of drought.
Mulching Your Pineapple Ananus comosus plants:
For maximum growth potential, mulch plants generously with at least a three inch layer of leaves, compost or wood chips- this will help the plant conserve moisture.
Fertilizing Your Pineapple Ananus comosus Plants :
Fertilize every 8 weeks with a well balanced NPK fertilizer, and an addition of Magnesium here in our Northeast Florida soils. If your soils have an extremely high PH you may need to add a soil drench of chelated Iron once or twice a year.
Harvesting Your Pineapple Ananus comosus in the Northeast Florida Vegetable Garden:
Pineapples can be harvested when 2/3 of the peel has yellowed in order to make sure you get the best quality pineapple flavor possible from your plant. If you need to cut green, pineapples can be harvested when they have reached their full size and are still green and then allowed to ripen indoors at room temperature, not refrigerated. This is how pineapple plants are done commercially, and they are still delicious!
Refrigerate fruits only once they are fully ripe.