Thursday, November 18, 2010

Growing pineapples

To the right are three pineapple plants we started about a year ago in our greenhouse.  Anyone can start their own pineapple plant in a warm sunny window, a one gallon pot or larger, some potting soil, and a store bought pineapple.  Simply cut off the pineapple top so you have about 1 inch of the pineapple attached to the leaves and let is dry for several days.  Then bury the 1 inch remaining portion of the pineapple in the potting soil and water.  Make sure the soil stays wet and the pineapple will eventually start to root in a week or two.  Not all tops will root and you may have to try this with a few different pineapple tops before it will work.  You can pull up your pineapple in the first few weeks to see if any roots are growing, but be gentile as to not break any roots.  You will know your pineapple rooting experiment is working if the very central leaf in the top is growing.  The top center leaf is the leaf growing from the plants apical meristem, which is growing tissue at the apex or top of the plant.  All plants have an apical meristem which adds height or length to the plant.  If the apical meristem is growing your plant is healthy.  We are going to keep our pineapples growing indefinitely.  We have heard that it is possible to produce fruit after about three years, but we'll see.

Growing plants of all types is an important and easy learning/teaching tool, or skill for that matter.  All kinds of things can be learned about plants as you grow them, everything from botany to agriculture to history and culture. Growing a pineapple in this way teaches plant propagation as well as about apical meristem growth.  Another interesting thing about pineapple fruit is that they contain an abundance of protease, an enzyme that digests protein.  Which makes me think... maybe there is some cool protein digestion experiment we can think up of using pineapple.

For more information on the pineapple check out wikipedia:

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