Chop off the top!
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Next time you're shopping for a houseplant, stop by the produce section at the grocery store and pick up a pineapple. Yes, you read that correctly. Once you have a pineapple, you can grow another one from the top. After chopping up the edible flesh, don't toss the remnants away. Recycle the pineapple's top by replanting it to regrow into a houseplant that will produce fruit. This easy indoor gardening method is a fun project for the whole family to take part in.

Pineapples as Houseplants

The pineapple plant is native to Central and South America. This member of the bromeliad family prefers to grow in soil, unlike the bromeliads we know as "air plants." The pineapple plant has long, stiff, swordlike leaves that eventually spread 3 to 6 feet wide and high. Pineapples can be grown outdoors in USDA Zones 11 or 12, but most people grow them as houseplants for at least part of the year. Give the plant plenty of space to grow in bright light and you'll have a ripened pineapple in 18 to 32 months. Follow the steps below for cultivating this tropical houseplant at home.

How to Plant a Pineapple Stem

Try one of two common planting techniques. The first method is to submerge a dried pineapple stem in a cup of water before planting. First, prep your pineapple. Twist off the leafy top, and strip off some of the lower leaves so a few inches of the stem are exposed. The root buds around the edge of the stem should be visible. Set the pineapple stem aside for several days to allow the cut end to dry out before planting (which will help prevent rot).

Place the stem in a cup in bright, indirect sunlight for about three weeks while the roots begin to grow. Be sure to change the water every couple of days. When the roots have grown 2 or 3 inches long, it's time to transplant the pineapple stem. Choose a container with good drainage and fill it with a mixture of potting soil, sand, and perlite. Plant the stem so that the lowest leaves are just above the soil. Pack the soil tightly around the stem to keep it standing upright. Place the pot in bright, indirect light, choosing a humid spot if possible to mimic the plant's native tropical environment. Water when the soil begins to dry and feed the plant a water-soluble fertilizer once a month in spring and summer.

How to Plant a Pineapple Crown

Or, skip the soaking step and directly plant a dried pineapple crown into a container. First, slice the top of the pineapple just below the crown. Allow the pineapple top to dry for several days. Plant it in the same soil mixture mentioned above, burying the crown up to the base of the leaves. Water thoroughly, then move the pot to bright indirect light. About two or three weeks after planting, new leaves will begin to emerge from the middle of the pineapple crown.

When to Grow Pineapple Outdoors

Like many houseplants, pineapples can be moved into filtered shade outdoors during late spring and summer to soak up warm rains and humidity. Don't overwater these shallow-rooted plants, though, as they are vulnerable to root rot. Check the soil for dryness before using the watering can. Temperatures under 60 degrees Fahrenheit will slow the plant's growth, but damage doesn't occur until temps drop below freezing. At the end of the season, bring your pineapple plant back indoors so it won't be harmed by frost.

Harvesting Your Pineapple

Pineapple plants produce just one fruit. Be patient—it could take one and a half or two years for the plant to start blooming and another month or two for the fruit to start growing. But when you see a tiny pineapple start emerging from the leaves, you'll know it was worth the wait. Once the fruit turns golden brown and begins to smell ripe, remove your pineapple with a sharp knife.

After the pineapple is harvested, some plants produce pups. For a second crop, remove all but one large ratoon (the term for a pup that has emerged from under the soil). The ratoon will develop into a mature plant and grow a new pineapple.