Florida Gardeners have raised pineapples for well over 100 years. Now, I wonder if over these many years they've had problems with critters too. One of our readers sent me a picture that is worth a thousand nasty words. But the results are the same - something ate his pineapple. Well, a critter got one of mine too and it was likely a rat, squirrel or racoon. Our reader said he surrounded the next soon to be maturing fruit with small holed chicken wire. I will too and hope it works.
Pineapples are a source of lots of gardening questions. It seems like the early settlers, most of whom had pineapple patches, liked to grow these fruiting plants and we do too. Here are a few questions readers write and they may be your questions too.
- How long does it take to get a fruit? Usually flowering begins in about 2 to 3 years after the plant is established in a large container or garden. The plants frequently flower in March and the fruits are ready in August.
- Will I get another fruit? Not from the original plant but you can from the many side shoots that form. Leave a few around the mother plant to produce the next crop. These replace the mother plant that slowly declines. Also, remove a few of the shoots when 6- to 8-inches long to start more plants or patches.
- Do I need to protect my plants from cold? Pineapple plants are sensitive to freezes. Temperatures of 32 degrees and below cause the plants to decline. They can survive a frost but expect some yellowing. After severe cold, many plants survive but have to restart growth from the base.
- What care is needed to ensure fruit production? Keep the soil moist but not wet. Feed monthly March through October with a general garden fertilizer. Or, you can use a slow release fertilizer following label instructions.
Pineapples are easy to grow but you do have to be patient. They are easily started by rooting tops saved from the store-bought fruits. Pineapple plants make attractive ornamental additions to patios and gardens while you and the critters are waiting for the first fruits.