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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.

Growing a Pineapple Top by Rhonda Feree

"Pineapple is not only delicious, but also makes a great houseplant." Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, describes how to do this using the top off of a whole pineapple.

Pineapple is a tropical fruit from tropical America and has that unique taste that many people really enjoy. "To learn more about the pineapple, try growing your own." "Amateur gardeners might enjoy the challenge of growing this tropical fruit." Start by purchasing a pineapple with a deep orange color and strong fragrance. If slicing to eat, cut off the top with about one inch of the fruit attached. Then cut away the meaty part, being careful not to injure the stem at the center.

Set the top aside for a couple days to dry. When dry, suspend in a glass of water or bowl so that one-half of the water covers the base of the stem. In a few weeks roots will appear. As soon as roots appear, pot it into a container with a good potting mix just covering the base of the stem.

Patience is the key to starting tropical fruits indoors. If the first one doesn't work, try again. Grocery store produce is sometimes hard to propagate at home. Once the plant does start to grow, give it two years before trying to initiate flowers.

Most people are happy just to get the pineapple top to root and grow. If you are adventuresome, try to get it to flower and produce fruit too. This takes some effort, as pineapples require ethylene gas to trigger flowering. The best way to achieve this at home is to place the plant in a plastic bag with two or three apples, which give off ethylene gas. Close the bag and set it aside in indirect light for a week. If the treatment worked, you should be able to see some red color in the center of the newest leaves. Small rows of buds will appear and grow into a pineapple.

As you can probably guess, this plant needs very high light and direct sun is best. The plant is somewhat cacti like and prefers warm temperatures and dry soil.

"Have fun with your pineapple, but of course remember to eat the main part." Fresh pineapple is great alone or cooked in your favorite pineapple dish. For more information on this or other horticultural issues, contact your local Extension office by visiting You can also post questions on Rhonda's facebook page at

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