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How to Grow Pineapple From Tops | Almanac.com

How to Grow Pineapples from Tops (in 3 Steps)

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garden marcus, man with a pineapple
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Dana Hammarstrom

Propagating Pineapples and People

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Did you know that you can grow a pineapple from its leftover top? It will remain a lovely houseplant, but with the right conditions, this plant will also start flowering and fruiting in two to three years. Here is Garden Marcus’s story about propagating both pineapples and people!

Propagating Pineapples

My pineapple adventure began with a different experiment—composting. I love fruit, but when I bought my first house, I realized that eating fruit generated a lot of waste—think of all the stems, leaves, peels, and food scraps. How are they useful?

First, I figured there had to be a way to recycle the organic matter. As I looked at my grapes, peaches, and pineapples, I remembered that I’d seen some friends compost a few years before. I did some research and got started. 

Compost taught me that plants are alive and have two paths: Grow or degrade. Their degraded materials are filled with nutrients that can become fertilizer for the earth.

Using compost completely transformed my garden! More flowers bloomed, and my plants glowed a vibrant green. I was satisfied; I’d found a solution to my waste problem, and my garden blossomed. My compost experiment was a success! 

Photo credit: Dana Hammarstrom

Discovering the World of Propagating

Then, not long after I watched my garden thrive with the addition of compost, a friend introduced me to the world of propagating. Learning that I could grow more plants from the leaves, stems, and vegetable scraps was a mind-blowing discovery for me, that prompted my next set of experiments. Trying out different plant propagations quickly became a fascination of mine, and I’ve grown my plant collection considerably as a result. 

One evening, I cut up a few pineapples for a social gathering. I tossed the crowns and skin into my compost and shared the fresh pineapple with friends. Knowing I had a garden, a friend asked me if I had propagated a pineapple yet. When I began composting, I did not know that some fruit and vegetable scraps could continue growing and produce more plants. Now, I had a specific experiment: Propagating a pineapple from a leftover crown.

The evening put me in a reflective state of mind, and I considered the value of sharing. I am regularly surprised at what sharing with others gives me back in return. Had I not shared the pineapple that night, it might have been years before someone shared with me what I could do with the crowns. 

First Pineapple Propagation Attempt

When I got home, I pulled the three crowns out of my compost and started researching. I peeled back the leaves about an inch from the base of the crown and placed them in water-filled plastic bottles that I had cut in half. I set two by my sunny dining room windowsill and the other on my kitchen counter, away from direct sunlight. 

None was successful. After two weeks, my pineapples turned brown and moldy, and a slimy substance collected in the water. Luckily, I had had plenty of practice with failed experiments. I snapped some pictures, took notes, and decided to try again. I was determined to see one crown produce roots.

Second Pineapple Propagation Attempt

I collected three more pineapple crowns and continued my experiment. I looked carefully at the next set until I realized my error in my first few attempts—nodes! 

Nodes are important in all plants. They are where leaves, buds, new stems, and even roots grow. On pineapples, there are small, pencil–tip–sized, tan-brown dots beneath some leaves. I inspected the crowns and saw that the nodes on one of the crowns were starting to sprout. To help these nodes grow long and healthy roots, I plucked the leaves that were taking the plant’s energy and redirecting it into the roots. 

I learned to pull off leaves where nodes are exposed rather than randomly removing leaves. This made all the difference! 

As I peeled off the leaves from the sprouting crown, I thought about the complexities of life and how change can spark transformation. For example, every leaf I removed once served a purpose—each collected sunlight. Their removal was necessary for the next stage of the pineapple’s growth, as it would allow the roots to soak up essential moisture and nutrients. 

Similarly, as we prepare for growth in our lives, we must be willing to go through transformations and changes. Just as my pineapples have to lose their leaves in order to create new roots, we have to let go of some of our attachments and routines. Letting go of what keeps us from forging another path creates room for new connections and growth. This fresh growth has the potential to become roots that allow us to thrive in new ways. We might never find this new growth if we are unwilling to experiment with our hobbies, habits, and routines. 

Below are the simple steps on how to propagate pineapples, along with a couple more lessons learned.

How to Grow Pineapples from the Tops

What You Need:

  1. Pineapple Cutting Board

  2. Cutting Utensil

  3. Clean Container (A mason jar is fine)

  4. Clean Water (room temperature or warm, not cold)

Instructions:

1. Cut off the head of the pineapple where it meets the skin.

2. Remove the bottom leaves off the top until an inch of the nodes (brown nubs) is exposed.

3. Put freshly-trimmed pineapple top in a mason jar filled with water, with only the left-free stem in the water itself. Set the jar someplace out of direct sunlight.

Change the water every other day. Don’t let the crown dry out. 

To better understand how this works, here’s a short video.

How Long Does It Take for a Pineapple to Grow? 

It takes about a month for the pineapple top to grow roots that are developed enough for planting. Most people will plant as a houseplant in a container; if you live in a tropical zone, you can plant in the ground.

In the below photos, you can see how the roots grow each week. 

Photo credit: Dana Hammarstrom

After a month or so, when you have lots of nice long roots (3 inches or more), you plant the crown in a potting mix suitable for succulents and cacti or any good organic potting mix. Plant your crown with the leaves above soil level and the roots below.

Avoid My Mistakes

With my second pineapple propagation attempt, all of the tops grew roots. However, only one was successfully planted in my garden. 

I made a couple of key mistakes, which you can learn from:

  1. I did not let the roots grow long enough before transferring them to the soil; the short roots could not sustain their growth. 
  2. I also did not water them enough after planting. With practice, I’ve found that it’s best to use ample amounts of water when the propagation is initially transplanted. Because the roots are grown in water, they need the soil to remain moist for the first couple of days. I took pictures of the failed experiments, made notes in my journal, and kept trying. 

My third trio of propagations were all successful and are still growing in my garden. Although the first five pineapples did not survive, each provided me with valuable insight into this intricate process. 

As I think about the whole experience, I am reminded that learning is an endless journey. I am as connected to my pineapple plants as any gardener who has watched their young seeds turn into mature and beautiful plants. 

When I see my propagations, I think about the countless hours spent nurturing and watching them and learning how to be a better gardener. We pour time, energy, and love into our plants, and our gardens give them right back, helping us to share peace and joy with others.

Learn more about how to propagate houseplants from cuttings as well as how to propagate herbs.

About The Author

Marcus Bridgewater

Marcus Bridgewater is a creator, educator, motivational speaker, and plant enthusiast. He is the personality behind Garden Marcus on social media, which demonstrates that a positive, knowledgeable approach to nurturing plants also helps us grow as people. Read More from Marcus Bridgewater

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