Ananas comosus var. variegatus
Common Name: variegated pineapple
Type: Fruit
Family: Bromeliaceae
Native Range: Tropical America
Zone: 11 to 12
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Pineapple is a shallow rooted tropical fruit that is grown outdoors in frost free areas where temperatures typically range from 65 to 95 degrees F. It is best grown in acidic, loose, sandy, organically rich, well-drained soils. Pineapple plants are primarily propagated by crowns (leafy clumps atop mature fruits), slips (on peduncles below the fruit), suckers (along the stem) or to a lesser degree by old stems. In temperate regions, pineapples are grown indoors in warm greenhouses or in containers as houseplants. Indoor plants require a consistently moist soil, bright sun, high humidity and an air temperature that does not dip below 65 degrees F. Fruits may not appear on indoor plants during the first few years. Indoor fruits are usually quite small and not particularly tasty, but are ornamentally attractive. For home gardening, (a) remove the leafy crown (by twisting or cutting) from a commercial pineapple, (b) remove any remaining yellow fruit attached to the crown, (c) dry the crown for one or two days, (d) place the crown in a moist potting soil mix or in water until roots appear and (e) plant the crown in a container of well-draining bromeliad-type potting soil. Containers may be taken outside in summer and placed in full sun locations, but should be brought back indoors when night temperatures begin to dip below 60 degrees F.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ananas comosus, commonly called pineapple, is a terrestrial bromeliad that was originally discovered growing in tropical areas of South America (principally Brazil). Carib Indians reportedly brought this plant to the Caribbean. Columbus saw his first pineapple on Guadeloupe in 1493. During the 1500s and 1600s, this fruit was distributed around the world with the help of sailing ships. Today, pineapples are one of the most popular fruits in the world. In tropical areas, they are grown both commercially for their excellent fruit and ornamentally as landscape plants. In temperate regions such as St. Louis, they may be grown in warm greenhouses or indoors as houseplants. In warm areas such as southern Florida, southern Texas or southern California, plants may be grown outdoors in protected locations, but such plants are intolerant of frost and will weaken and show damage from winter temperatures significantly below 60 degrees F. Outdoors, pineapple plants typically grow 3-4’ tall (leaves to 3’ or more and fruit to 1’ taller) and as wide. Stiff, tough, narrow, sword-shaped, evergreen, gray-green leaves usually with sawtoothed edges appear in basal rosettes. Prior to flowering, the stem in the rosette center lengthens and enlarges. Purple or red flowers (50-200) then bloom in a large inflorescence. Topped by a compact crown of leaves, the pineapple fruit (a syncarp) forms and matures to 12” long or more with a weight up to 14 pounds.

Var. variegatus is a variegated form sometimes commonly called ivory pineapple or variegated pineapple. It is primarily grown for ornamental purposes. Its fruit is not particularly tasty, but its foliage is exceptional. Gray-green strap-shaped evergreen leaves (to 3’ long) are variegated lengthwise on the margins with yellowish white stripes tinged at the edges with red.

Genus name comes from the South American (Tupi) Indian name.

Specific epithet means with a tuft in probable reference to the flowers and fruit produced in a tuft above the foliage.

Problems

Wilt and root rot can be significant. Watch for nematodes, scale, thrips and mealybugs.

Garden Uses

Ornamental plant. In frost free areas, grow as an accent/ specimen or in borders. In more temperate areas, grow in containers that must be overwintered indoors.