Growing Pineapples Outside the Tropics

| 5/2/2013 1:35:00 PM

Tags: deep south, growing pineapples, David Goodman,

pineapple bloomDown in South Florida (and Hawaii), gardeners have all the luck. Roughly 1.5 zillion amazing tropical species grow there, including pineapples. I used to cut the tops off and plant them here and there around my landscaping. In North Florida, where I now live, it's not nearly that easy.

You'll do great until the temperatures drop into the 20s, then your pineapple plants melt. The cold is insurmountable here. You may do good for a few years ... then BAM! Dead bromeliads.

Fortunately, they're easy to grow in pots. The picture in this post shows one of the many pineapple plants I inherited from my grandfather when he passed away a couple years back.

Before I go further, I have to tell you about him. His name was Judson Greene and he was a sailor and a brilliant carpenter. When I was a kid, he stood ten foot tall. If you dropped him on a desert island, he could build a sloop from laminated twigs, find a way to varnish it (twice), then sail back to home port before dinner. He had traveled about the tropics in the Navy, done scientific research, and still managed to raise five children, the oldest of whom was my mother.

Grandpa was also an inveterate experimenter, which is perhaps where I get my own exploratory drive. He planted a rubber tree in his back yard, grew a mahogany in the side yard, and was always toying with the idea of converting his whole house to solar power.

When he discovered in his 70s that you could grow pineapple plants from the tops of store-bought pineapples, he hatched an idea. Visiting the local grocery store, he asked the woman behind the food prep counter what she did with the pineapple tops that were removed when they made fruit salads. When he found out they were being thrown away, he asked if she’d save him some. She did – an entire black trash bag full.

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