How to grow pineapples at home in Wales or anywhere in the world
Home grown pineapples
Several years ago I was on the Xmas edition of HTV Wales News in a report for the "And finally..." ending of the program. My story was all about how in the cold and darkness of winter in Wales, I was dreaming of a tropical paradise and helping make my dream more of a reality by harvesting a home-grown pineapple (Ananas comosus) I had cultivated in my living room.
I sent my idea in to the TV company feeling confident they would want to use it and they did. They opened with a scene of a tropical beach and palm trees and then cut to my house, while the narrator explained what I had been doing. I then went on to say how I grew a pineapple and then the report cut away to an expert from the Welsh Botanical Gardens in Carmarthen who said that growing a pineappple as I had done is very rarely done and that I was probably one of the first people in Wales to have achieved this.
HTV made a temporary online video of it too and there was a caption which read: "Steve Andrews Welsh pineappler grower." It was a claim to fame I felt proud of!
The South Wales Echo
The South Wales Echo also did a story about my homegrown exotic fruit. It is the sort of subject you could expect the local media to want to cover so if you ever fancy seeing yourself in the news this is a way that worked for me and there's a good chance it will work for you.
So how did I go about growing a pineapple? It is actually a lot easier than you may think although you need patience because it will take a few years before it is big enough to flower.
All you need is a fresh pineapple and you simply twist off the top spiky rosette of leaves and remove some of the bottom ones to leave a short stump about an inch long. If you are lucky you may find roots already to start around this base but if not they will soon develop.
Fill a pot with compost, although I just used soil from my back garden, water it enough so that it is damp but not sodden, and simply lightly push the pineapple stump into the earth. Keep it on a windowsill with plenty of sunlight and make sure it doesn't dry out and in about a month you should notice new leaves starting to sprout at the top. Once the pineapple is firmly rooted and growing new leaves you are well on your way to future success.
All going well your pineapple plant will keep on getting bigger and bigger, and will of course need bigger pots as it does so. The leaves on mine were about 4 ft long when it flowered but they can get even longer than this. They are very spiky so you need to be careful when tending to your pineapple and you need somewhere with enough room for a large plant.
I grew mine in a south-facing bay window, and as I explained to the reporter, I just used to water it when it looked dry and that was it - no special care or plant food. Because the pineapple is a tropical plant from the bromeliad family, which incidentally also includes the Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), you have to keep it indoors, although if you live in a warm climate where there is no danger of freezing it could be grown outside. It is important not to overwater though because if the soil stays wet it will probably rot your pineapple plant.
The flower forms as a cone with pretty little bluish-violet florets around it in rows right in the middle of the rosette, which may go an attractive rosy-red colour around it. Eventually the fruit starts to get bigger and bigger and looking like a real mini pineapple. It will keep growing until eventually you end up with an unmistakeable fruit. It will take a couple of months before it is ripe enough to eat but it is exciting watching it develop and will make a great talking point for you to discuss with friends and family.
After you have harvested your fruit you can then produce daughter plants by starting a new one from the crown of your pineapple, and also the original plant will produce a shoot or shoots on the stem you have cut and this can be removed and rooted as well. It is possible to allow the mother plant to grow another pineapple but you will need to wait again for it to do so.
Growing your own pineapple at home gives a real sense of achievement and it makes an attractive and unusual houseplant. It may start you wondering what else you can grow. I followed up with Kiwi fruit in my back garden but that's another story!
Copyright © 2010 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.
Bard of Ely's first Welsh home-grown pineapple
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