You can now enjoy a taste of the tropics. with homegrown...Pineapples

What??? Can you really enjoy fresh, homegrown pineapples in New England? Absolutely! Although commercial growing of the pineapple is limited to subtropical climates, growing a pineapple plant indoors is possible in our northern part of the country.

Fresh pineapples are available in most area supermarkets throughout the year. Select one with attractive, green leaves on top. With a little patience and a sunny spot in your home, these spiny-toothed leaves will grow into a beautiful plant. It will take about 20 to 26 months to produce a pineapple fruit from your plant.

Here's what you'll need:
6-inch clay pot
drainage material (gravel or other small stones) to cover the bottom of the pot to a depth of one-inch
good quality, lightweight potting soil (not the heavyweight)

Here's how to grow your own pineapple plant

Step 1: Cut off the top of your fresh pineapple with about one-inch of pineapple meat attached to the green, leafy top.

Step 2: Pull off the meat of the fruit and carefully remove the leaves at the bottom of the crown until you have exposed one-inch of the cream-colored stem. You will notice that each time you remove a leaf, a small brown bump will become visible. This is the dormant root on the plant.

Step 3: Spread about one-inch of drainage material in the bottom of your pot.

Step 4: Add your potting soil to the pot and leave some room for the plant. Push the pineapple top into the soil so the bottom leaves just touch the soil. The plant should be about 1/2-inch from the top of the, pot. Tamp and firm the soil around the pineapple top as you center it in the pot. Water well.

Step 5: Pineapples love sun and humid growing conditions so keep your plant away from wood stoves or fireplace areas.

If you have a humidifier, place your plant on top of it during the winter months.Your plant will love it! Water weekly, if needed.Feel the soil to make sure it has dried out between watering.

During the summer months, you can place your plant on a porch or deck where it will get plenty of sun. You may also choose a sunny spot in your garden, sinking the pot half-way into the soil so it will not tip over.

Care for it as you would any other topical plant that you put outside during the summer.
Water as needed and feed it monthly. The plant can stay outdoors until early September. Move it back indoors to a sunny window.

Step 6: The plant will stay in the six-inch pot for almost a year. At this time, you will want to repot it into an eight-inch pot. Your plant will require about 20 to 26 months to mature to the fruit-producing stage.

It will be worth the time! When the plant becomes 18 to 20 months old, it will produce a deep, pink bud in thecenter of the leaves. This will be followed (in about two months' time) by a bright red cone.

Now you will look for rows of bright, blue flowers that seem to open one at a time. When your plant stops flowering, the fruit will begin to develop.

If your plant has not begun to flower within 20 months, you can try to force the plant into this stage by placing an apple next to the plant. Place both the plant and apple inside a clear, plastic bag. Close the bag using a twist-em. Move the plant to a shady location for about four to five days, then move it back to its sunny spot.

The red cone should develop in approximately two months. (NOTE: The apple will work best if you bruise it before it's placed in the bag. A bruised apple produces ethylene gas in the breaking down process. This gas stimulates fruit production in the plant.) Once the fruit develops, it should last on the plant for several months. Growing a plant from a pineapple top can be a fun project for even the most experienced gardener. It's quite a challenge requiring patience and sun. With a little luck, you'll be able to enjoy this symbol of hospitality right in your own home.

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