You’ve probably heard about people trying it before – growing their own pineapple from one they bought at the grocery store. And you’ve probably thought, “Aren’t pineapples from Hawaii? I’d be silly to try growing my own!”

Cut pineapple on tray

With the crown cut off and several leaves pulled to expose the roots, this pineapple top is ready for rooting!

Photo Credit: Lynn Means

Pineapple root primordia

These little brown dots are the root primordia that’ll jump-start your pineapple plant.

Photo Credit: Lynn Means

Pineapple stem in glass

The bushy top will suspend the stem in a glass of water until it’s properly rooted.

Photo Credit: Lynn Means

Potted pineapples

These young pineapple plants cover the main stages: At right is a stem rooting in water. At left is a fully rooted stem that’s been planted in a 6-inch pot. And in the center is a shoot from a “mother plant,” growing in an 8-inch container.

Photo Credit: Lynn Means

Silly or not, it’s actually not that hard to do. The project just takes some patience and tenacity, and it doesn’t really matter where you live or when you start growing your fruit. Getting started is as simple as taking a trip to your local supermarket! Be sure to pick a pineapple with a healthy crown and good color. (Consider picking up two of these tasty fruits to eat and propagate – just in case one fails to root properly.)

Once you’re home, pull out the cutting board and a sharp knife. Cut off the crown just like you normally do when carving a pineapple. Place the top of your pineapple on the cutting board like you would a loaf of bread, and start slicing away the flesh by cutting very thin, horizontal strips. Keep slicing until you see the root buds, which look like a circle of brown dots around the outer edge of the surface. Strip back about 1 inch of the crown’s lower leaves to create a stem. (They come off easily, just fold them forward and tear the edge away from the side.) As you remove the leaves, you’ll start to see small, pale or brown bumps, which are root primordia – or the start of your plant’s new roots.

Allow the stem to air-dry upside down for a few days, then place it in a clear container (like a drinking glass, mug or plastic cup) with enough water to cover it. Put it in a spot away from direct sun and temperature extremes. Mark the date on your calendar or container, change the water twice a week, and in about two weeks you should have a rooted stem that’s ready to plant!

Now, the key to successfully growing your pineapple is good drainage. Start with a 6- or 8-inch pot and put 1-2 inches of pebbles in the bottom to make a base for the soil and to cover the drainage hole. Then fill the container with either a standard potting soil mixed with 1/3 perlite or a cactus/bromeliad mix with 1/3 perlite. Then just pop the stem in the soil and press the mix firmly around the base, being sure to keep the soil away from the leaves. Water your new plant as needed, keeping the soil moist, but not soggy – pineapples are prone to drowning.

Keep your pineapple plant where it’ll get the recommended six hours of bright light per day and where the temperature hovers around 65-75 degrees F. In 6-8 weeks, new leaves should start sprouting from the center or sides of the crown. As these grow, begin watering your pineapple lightly once a week. During the hot summer months, move your plant outside and water it twice a week. (Don’t worry if the original leaves die – just remove them.)

You can start fertilizing your plant when it’s about 2 months old. Your pineapple gets its nutrients through its leaves during the warmest months and through its roots during the coolest ones. With this in mind, fertilize twice a month in summer by misting the plant with a water-soluble plant food diluted to half-strength. (Or you can sprinkle dry fertilizer on the top of the soil so it’ll dissolve with regular watering, but then still mist-fertilize every couple of weeks.) In winter, fertilize just once a month with a regular, undiluted solution. Note: Growth is slow in winter, but hang in there! Just keep your plant healthy and inspect it regularly for pests and root rot.

Your pineapple plant will eventually reach 2-3 feet tall and wide, with the ultimate size depending on your climate and growing conditions. (In fact, you’ll probably need to repot it before the summer months to accommodate its growth.) Full maturity takes between 18 months and two years. That’s when you’ll likely start to notice one or more new shoots (called ratoons) sprouting off of the side. And that’s all good – let the shoot reach about 12 inches long, then cut or break it off from the base and grow it just like you did the mother plant for a chance at more fruit!

When your pineapple matures, a bloom spike that looks like a small acorn should appear. The blooms are bright lilac-pink and open one row at a time. As they die, they form the scales of the shell, which will need to grow for another 4-6 months to reach harvest maturity. The color of the shell will turn from green to deep gold, from the bottom up – just like the original pineapple you got from the grocery. If your plant remains healthy (and let’s hope so – by now it’s practically part of the family), it’s not over. Your mature plant should continue to produce several shoots that are potential fruit-bearers – and gifts for fellow pineapple lovers!

So, yes, it’s really true: You don’t have to live in Hawaii or some other exotic paradise to produce your own pineapple. Sure, it takes a lot of patience and love, but the sweet results are more than worth the wait!