1. Q. How can I grow pineapple? I have tried several times with little success.

A. First of all you need to buy a pineapple because it takes one to grow one. The easiest way to grow the plant is to cut off the crown (the leafy top). Strip a few of the basal leaves from the crown. Turn it upside down and let it dry for about a week so that the cut end and the leaf scars can harden before planting.

Plant the crown in an 8-inch porous pot using a good light garden soil with a 30% blend of organic matter. Tamp the soil firmly around the base of the crown and try not to get any soil in the leaves. You should fertilize the pineapple when planted and every two or three months thereafter with a good household plant food.

Patience is the key to successfully growing a pineapple plant. It often takes two years or more for a plant to bear fruit in peak growing conditions. The pineapple is a tropical plant so it can be severely damaged by freezing temperatures. During the summer months, the plant can be placed outdoors without too much worry. During the winter, keep the plant indoors near a sunny window. Water the soil lightly once a week.

Many people have had success with a pineapple house plant. One of the biggest problems is getting the plant to produce fruit. If the plant is two years old and has not flowered (the flower precedes the fruit), you can force fruit the plant by putting the plant and pot into a plastic bag with an apple. Move the bag to a shady spot and leaves it for three or four days.

Put the plant back in the sun. After a few months, a red come should appear followed by blue flowers and eventually a fruit. It takes about six months for the fruit to fully develop.

As you can tell by these detailed instructions, growing a pineapple plant requires patience and time. But the rewards of harvesting your own tropical fruit can justify the months of preparation.

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