Make your own: Pineapple
It’s a great time of year for sweet, juicy pineapple. Did you know that pineapple contains enzymes that can help you digest a heavy meal? Cooking pineapple destroys this enzyme, so eat them fresh whenever you can.
Look for a pineapple at the grocery store that feels heavy and firm. Some stores will core the pineapple for you for free!
And after you’re done eating that delicious fruit, you can create a pineapple plant from the part you would normally throw away. Save the leafy top, known as the rosette. For best results, cut the pineapple about half of an inch from the top.
Scoop out any remaining edible pineapple from the bottom of your soon-to-be plant to avoid mold. Next, remove the outermost layer of leaves to encourage new growth. Some of the remaining leaves may eventually turn brown, but as long as the inner leaves stay hard and green, your plant will survive.
Place the rosette in a pot of soil and sand that comes up just to the bottom of the leaves. The sand helps the soil drain since pineapples prefer it dry, and can die if over watered.
If you live in Florida or Southern California, you might have good luck keeping one in a pot outside, but keep it in well-drained soil and close to the house, so you can monitor the water. Pineapples need to stay in temperatures above 60 degrees while they grow, so bring it indoors if the temperature dips below 60.
Your pineapple project requires patience. The plant can take 2 to 3 years to mature; in that time, it will grow 2-3 feet tall. Meanwhile, you have a lovely house plant and, of course, a conversation piece for guests. Keep it humid by placing the pot on a tray with gravel and water, and fertilize with half strength fertilizer every month or so.
After the plant matures, it will begin to grow what one might call a “ball of flowers.” The plant may need some outside time in the direct sunlight to encourage this. This is an exciting time, because the ball of flowers will become your very own, home-grown pineapple—miniature and green at first, but eventually ripening into a large, golden fruit. Don’t eat the pineapple while it’s green, because it may contain toxins. Wait until the fruit is heavy and smells sweet.
Pineapple plants commonly die after flowering, but it may send off baby plants from the base of the rosette. Watch for those and be ready to remove and root as many of the offspring as you can, so your pineapple crop can increase.
Once you’ve harvested and eaten your new pineapple, be sure to save the top half-inch, so you can begin this project again. It’s the circle of life!
Sources: Daves Garden, Garden Web.com, with contributions by AltMeds.com editorial staff.