Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Growing pineapples in North Florida

It can be done! It can! Check this out:

Down in South Florida, gardeners have all the luck. Everything cool grows there, including pineapples. I used to cut the tops off and plant them here and there around my landscaping. Here in North Florida it's not that easy, though.

You'll do great until a good frost hits... then your pineapple plants melt.
There was an Ocala farmer named Adam Eichelberger who launched a commercial pineapple venture over a century ago, as recorded by local historian David Cook:

"After the war [of Northern Aggression], Adam returned to Ocala to try to regain his fortune. It was a difficult time for everyone, but he found a solution in what he now called his Banana Hill Nursery. He would sell trees and plants to others, and also would sell planted orange groves.
He also took a gamble in growing pineapple plants and was wildly successful until the first time the winter temperature fell below freezing. At one time in the 1870s, the Banner said he had shipped more than 500 barrels of pineapples north aboard the Ocklawaha River steamboats. Expectations were high - but soon dashed." (Read full article)

The cold is insurmountable here. You may do good for a few years... the BAM! Your pineapples are dead.

Fortunately, they're easy to grow in pots. The pictures in this post are of one of the many pineapple plants I inherited when my Grandfather died. I took them up here, potted some and planted others up against the south wall of my house. I now have at least five blooming, both in pots and against the wall... and the frosts have only claimed a few test starts I put out in the yard.

If you haven't ever tried a fresh pineapple, you're in for a treat. Grow a few - you won't regret it. They have shallow root systems and thrive with very little care. Just don't keep them wet or they'll rot.

Here's one more shot of the bloom:

Why grow other bromeliads when you can grow these? They're attractive and edible. The down side is that they take a couple years to produce from a top or a slip... but the up side is that you can start them any time you want, put them aside, start more, put them aside... and eventually, you'll have tons of pineapples. Just do it in between taking care of your faster-producing plants and you'll get there.



At April 18, 2013 at 6:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I lived in South Florida I did the same thing - and there's nothing quite as tasty as those little home grown pineapples (mine were always small, but delicious).

I think maybe it's time to try them again - in pots, here in central FL.

At April 18, 2013 at 10:16 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Very cool. If you grow them from pineapple tops, they'll make smaller fruit - but if you can manage to get some "slips," which are the side shoots on the plants, you can get larger fruit. All mine are from tops at this point, since those are a lot easier to find.

And yeah... the taste is far beyond what you can buy in the store. Totally worth growing.


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