SUNDAY GARDENING – Ananas Comosus

Contributed By Martha Plousos
Plowing Through Life

The first thing I’m going to tell you is that Ananas comosus is not an epiphyte like Aechmea fasciata or Vriesea splendens or the cute little Tillandsia plants, all of which are bromeliad cousins. What this means is that if you expose the roots of this lovely plant to the air by removing them from the soil (or whatever other growing medium you’re using, like clay pellets) to attach them to driftwood or a seashell or some type of magnet, you will kill this plant. This is a terrestrial bromeliad and it needs to be grown in a pot with an appropriate medium. So, don’t go pulling any epiphytic moves with this bromeliad. Big no-no. Capiche?

Okay.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’m going to tell you another thing: this plant is very easy to grow indoors provided you aren’t growing one for the fruit; the chances of your Ananas comosus producing a pineapple – no matter how perfect the growing conditions – are very slim. Very. Grow it for its interesting foliage and its ease of cultivation, not its fruit. If you want pineapple, visit your local grocery store.

So.

Alright, now let’s talk about care, starting with light, which Ananas comosus needs lots of. Especially sun. Provide this bromeliads with plenty of bright light, preferably a few hours of sunshine a day. Without adequate light, it will stop growing (or grow very slowly) and the leaves with be smaller, thinner. This terrestrial must receive adequate amounts of light; if you can’t provide that, don’t grow it.

Choose an airy, fast-growing medium and water thoroughly when the plant is thirsty; do not water again until the plant dries somewhat. Ananas comosus is a prime candidate for rot from over-watering, so it’s wise to be careful with the watering can. Reduce watering significantly during the winter when the plant is resting. This is a great candidate for hydroculture. Simply remove the plant from the pot, wash the roots free of soil and place in a container with clay pebbles. Water roots should form within 4 to 6 weeks.

Like all bromeliads, above average humidity levels between 40 to 60 percent are greatly appreciated but often difficult to maintain in the average home, especially during the colder months of the year when heating systems cause humidity levels to plummet. Increase humidity if possible, but don’t fret; Ananas comosus tolerates dry air better than most indoor plants.

Average room temperatures are fine but if you’re determined to try and make your Ananas comosus bear fruit, temperatures of 24°C (75°F) and above may be required. When the plant is a few years old, it may produce a sturdy stem bearing small flowers that are surrounded by pretty, colourful bracts. Soon after, a small fruit will appear. Even though this whole process is not easily achieved when this plant is cultivated indoors, it’s certainly worth a try; you really have nothing to lose.

During the active growing season, if your plant is growing in ideal conditions, feed it every two weeks or once a month with a general liquid fertilizer that is diluted to half strength or less. Do not feed during the winter months or if your plant is growing in poor lighting.

That’s all there is to it folks; it doesn’t get any easier than this. This plant is definitely worth trying indoors, as long as you have a sunny spot for it.

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