Pineapples are a popular tropical fruit known for their sweet and tangy flavor and prickly exterior. But just how many pineapples grow on one plant? Read on to find out.
Each pineapple plant will produce one pineapple. A pineapple plant may produce a secondary fruit from a sucker that grows on the primary pineapple plant. This second crop is called a ratoon crop.
Read on to find out more about the fruiting process of your pineapple plant.
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How Pineapple Plants Grow
The pineapple plant (Ananas comosus) can be confusing to grow, especially if it is your first attempt. I admit I was intimidated by the thought of growing a pineapple, but it is surprisingly easy.
Many first-time pineapple growers will start by planting the discarded top of a pineapple fruit known as the crown. And you can definitely grow a pineapple from a crown. It’s how I got my start also, but it will just take longer than growing them by other methods (from suckers and slips, more below).
Regardless of which growing method is used, you should know growing pineapples at home takes a long time, typically 2-3 years from planting to harvesting a pineapple. Patience is most definitely a virtue when it comes to pineapple growing, but I promise, it is worth it! And once you have grown one pineapple, it’s easy to grow more from the new plants it will produce for you.
As a tropical fruit, pineapples require warm temperatures between 65-95 °F (18-35 °C) and plenty of sunlight to grow and produce fruit.
So if you’re in the right climate, pineapples can be grown in your garden, in the ground. Or in cooler climates, you can grow pineapples in pots where they can be taken indoors during the colder months. Pineapples can also be grown indoors as a purely decorative plant.
As mentioned, a pineapple plant will only bear fruit once from the primary plant or mother plant. But it can produce a second pineapple fruit via an off-shoot called a sucker.
Once your pineapple plant is big enough, usually at around 14 months, it will go on to produce a flower stalk, set fruit, and then die after the pineapple fruit has ripened.
Pineapple fruit development to harvest takes another 6-8 months from flowering. During this time, the mother plant will also produce plant offsets (suckers and slips), which are your new pineapple plants.
Pineapple Mother Plant
The plant that your pineapple fruit is produced by is known as the mother plant. The mother plant is the primary or first pineapple plant. The pineapple fruit grows from the center, also called the crown of the mother plant.
The mother plant is essential to the propagation of pineapple plants because it produces the initial fruit and the pups, which can be used as new plants. The right care of the mother plant is also important to ensure fruit production and plant health.
The fruit produced by the mother plant, called the primary crop, is generally the largest fruit the pineapple plant will produce. While a secondary fruit from a remaining sucker plant will produce a smaller fruit (called a ratoon crop) if left in place.
Pineapple Plant Propagation
The mother plant produces several different types of off-shoots known as suckers and slips. It’s from these that the next pineapples will be produced.
Slips grow from the stalk just below the pineapple fruit, while the suckers grow between the leaves and the stem. The secondary fruit that can grow on your pineapple plant will come from a sucker that has been allowed to grow.
To grow a pineapple plant from the off-shoots, you can remove the suckers and slips from your mother plant once they are big enough and plant them. Depending on the variety of pineapple plants, I suggest waiting for suckers to be around 8 inches (20 cm) and for slips to be 4-6 inches (10-15 cm).
Removing slips is a good idea because they’ll impact the size of the pineapple fruit, causing it to be smaller than it otherwise could be. Likewise, removing and replanting the suckers will ensure they don’t overcrowd each other and leave them competing for space.
For your pineapple plant to produce a secondary or ratoon crop, you should remove all but one sucker on the mother plant so it can grow and produce fruit.
Pineapple Fruit Development
A pineapple fruit forms on the top of the pineapple plant and develops from the terminal flower spike. The pineapple plant produces a single flower spike, which emerges from the center of the rosette of leaves.
The flower spike grows taller and produces anywhere between 50 and 200 small purple flowers. These flowers form berries that merge to form a single large fruit, the pineapple. This process can take roughly 6 to 8 months.
How Long Do Pineapples Take to Grow Fruits?
Pineapple plants take a long to produce fruit, anywhere between 16 to 24 months or more to set fruit. It will take your pineapple between 14 and 16 months to become mature enough to produce fruit. The growing time depends on several factors.
Growing your pineapple from the top of a store-bought fruit will take longer to grow than a plant off-shoot (sucker or slip). Usually taking longer than 24 months before the fruit appears. In comparison, a pineapple plant that is propagated from a slip or sucker can take as little as 16 months to grow.
It’s important to mention that pineapple plants that are grown inside will take longer to grow than those grown outside. And they may be reluctant to flower and fruit at all. But if you place your indoor pineapple plant near a sunny window, it’ll have the best chance of fruiting for you.
The Lifespan of a Pineapple Plant
During the first year of growth, the pineapple plant will produce long, sword-shaped leaves and develop a (fragile) root system. It takes a pineapple plant around 14 months to reach maturity, at which point it can then support flower and fruit development.
In the second year, the pineapple plant will begin to produce a cluster of little flowers on a terminal flower stem. This stage is called the inflorescence stage. The flowers will bloom for roughly 20 to 40 days.
The fruit begins to develop about 6 months after your plant has flowered. Fruit development can take a further 6 to 8 months to mature. Depending on the variety, you will know your pineapple is ready to be picked when it changes color from green to yellow or golden brown.
Once the first fruit has been produced and harvested, a secondary fruit can grow from a sucker, following the same process.
If you want to try growing your pineapples, you can purchase live pineapple plants like these or get started with a pineapple top from the grocery store. Just ensure your store-bought pineapple crown has not been drilled out, as it won’t grow. But one that is intact will!