When using a fresh pineapple, don't throw away the leafy top portion of the fruit. The leafy top can be rooted and turned into a unique houseplant.
Select a fresh pineapple with attractive, green foliage at your local grocery store. At home, cut off the top of the pineapple about 1/2 inch below the cluster of leaves. Trim away the outer portion of the pineapple top leaving the tough, stringy core attached to the leaves. Also, remove a few of the lowest leaves. The pineapple top should then be allowed to dry for several days. The drying period allows the moist core tissue to dry and discourages rotting. After drying, insert the pineapple top into perlite, vermiculite, or coarse sand up to the base of its leaves. Water the rooting medium. Keep the rooting medium moist, but not wet, during the rooting period. Finally, place the pineapple top in bright, indirect light. Rooting should occur in 6 to 8 weeks.
When the pineapple has developed a good root system, carefully remove it from the rooting medium. Plant the rooted pineapple in a light, well-drained potting mix. Water well. Then place the plant in bright, indirect light for 2 or 3 weeks.
After 2 to 3 weeks, the plant can be placed in a sunny window. Keep the potting mix moist with regular watering. Using a soluble houseplant fertilizer, fertilize the pineapple plant once or twice a month in spring and summer, but only once a month in fall and winter. The plant can go outside in late May, but must come back indoors before the first fall frost.
Pineapples are slow growing plants. Most plants mature in 2 to 3 years. At maturity, pineapples are capable of blooming. To encourage flowering, place a mature pineapple plant and an apple in a plastic bag for 3 or 4 days. The apple gives off ethylene gas, which stimulates flowering of the pineapple. Flowering (hopefully) should occur within 2 to 3 months of the treatment.
This article originally appeared in the 12/5/2003 issue.