Growing pineapples in the UK requires a big investment in time and space. But the novelty of growing this tropical plant may make it a desirable thing to do. This delicious fruit is not a natural addition to a UK garden but a polytunnel that will keep the temperatures up and is frost-free will make it possible to give pineapple growing a go.
Pineapples are usually grown from the tops of the fruits, which can be planted and rooted in soil. It is worthwhile remembering that pineapple plants will only fruit once every three years or so, and each will give just one fruit, so this is definitely a novelty rather than a subsistence food.
Cut the leafy top off a pineapple around half an inch below the leaves. Remove some of the lowest leaves and trim off the outer portion of the pineapple top at the bottom of the crown until you can see small, brown-coloured root buds around the perimeter. Dry the pineapple top for a few days before planting as this will help to reduce the incidence of problems with rotting.
Plant the pineapple in a light soil mix, with the soil level just below the base of the leaves. Water well and place it in bright but indirect sunlight. Be sure to keep it moist for 6-8 weeks until roots begin to form. After this time, you can pull very gently to check for root formation.
Growing pineapples will need at least six hours of bright light each day. Artificial heating will usually needed in the UK and additional lighting may also be required in some parts of the UK. Water as needed, allowing the soil to dry out somewhat between watering. Pot up the plant as required and add fertiliser. Keep temperatures to a minimum of 20 degrees and keep humidity to around 70%.
Ethylene will encourage flowering, after which a fruit will form on each pineapple plant. Placing ethylene exuding fruits in a plastic bag with a pineapple plant can sometimes help to encourage flowering. Some say that laying the plant on its side between watering can also help to encourage flowering.
A pineapple harvest in the UK will be a major event. Remember that this will only take place once every three years after a big investment in space, time and effort. Still, if you love pineapples, the joy of this rare occasion may well make it worth it.