Pineapple plants can be easily grown in home gardens, provided proper soil conditions and fertilizers. Pineapple plants are naturally hardy against drought, and don’t require a huge amount of maintenance, as long as they are grown under favorable conditions.
These conditions are not difficult to satisfy: sandy loam soil (preferably, though other well-draining sandy soils can also work), in combination with the application of nitrogen fertilizers and micronutrient mixes via dry mixes and/or foliar sprays, will yield healthy, happy pineapple plants.
Best Soil for Pineapple Plants
The plants thrive best when planted in a somewhat acidic sandy loam soil. Pineapple plants require well-draining, sandy soils, without having too high a concentration of sand in their makeup. This mix can be achieved by cultivating sandy soil with organic matter (compost) prior to planting.
On the other end of the spectrum is soil that is too sandy. This soil drains too well and cannot hold enough moisture or nutrients to satisfy the demands of the plant.
Sandy loam provides adequate drainage without having too high a concentration of sand for the pineapple plants to receive enough water. The importance of soil drainage cannot be overemphasized, as pineapple plants are drought tolerant plants that cannot tolerate waterlogged soil.
When the soil is flooded, plant growth and production slows, and the roots are left vulnerable to root rot, which is deadly to the plants.
It is crucial for organic matter, particularly matter that is high in nitrogen, to be mixed into the soil to cultivate it before planting. Sandy loam, due to its free drainage, is typically nutrient-poor, so this boost is necessary for growing healthy pineapple plants.
This material can contain things like composted wood chips and bark, leaves, manure, and other materials that were once living. Clay should never be added to sandy soil for cultivation.
City compost piles made from grass clippings and leaves collected by the city are a great way to gain access to large amounts of compost for free. Call your local government offices or parks departments to see where the city has these.
Pineapple plants are naturally resistant to drought and can tolerate drier-than-ideal soil conditions. However, they still require consistent watering and adequate soil moisture for the best fruit production.
Check out “How Often To Water Pineapple Plants” for more on that.
If possible, it is wise to take measures to avoid the introduction of pests that feed on pineapple plants, including mealyworms and nematodes. Those preventative measures include making sure both the soil and planting material are pest-free prior to planting, to the best of one’s ability. Using soil that has never had anything grown in it, for example, is a way to lower (but not eliminate) the risk of pests.
The above is according to a pdf on pineapple care produced by the University of Florida Cooperative Extension
Best Soil pH for Pineapple Plants
The best soil pH range for pineapple plants is somewhat acidic, between 4.5-5.6. If the soil is too alkaline, you can add a commercial sulfur or a blend of organic materials that will lower the pH to the desired range prior to planting.
The process of lowering soil pH is slow and can take several years. It is recommended to wait at least a year after the application of sulphur before planting.
If the soil is still more alkaline than the desired range while the plants are growing the plants will need additional iron supplementation. This iron can be applied to pineapple plants in the form of foliar sprays, because pineapple plants are able to absorb iron through their leaves.
In a typical home-garden sulphur treatment, elemental sulphur is applied in the spring, and then the soil is regularly irrigated just enough to maintain moisture, because over-irrigation leads to conditions in which anaerobic bacteria convert sulphur into hydrogen sulfide.
Fertilizer for Pineapple Plants
Pineapple plants require plenty of nitrogen (N), potassium (K), and iron (Fe). Pineapple plants can be fertilized through the soil, through drip irrigation, and via foliar sprays.
Commercial pineapple fertilization starts with a soil test and most likely the addition of potassium, phosphorus and calcium to the soil during bed preparation.
Pineapple plants readily absorb most of their nutrients through their leaves, and so foliar sprays are used on the plants, though these sprays do not contain calcium, which the plants cannot absorb through their leaves. A drip irrigation fertilizer system is also often employed in commercial pineapple production.
When growing pineapple plants at home a small amount or diluted dose of an all-purpose fertilizer can be added before planting. Alternatively a small amount of compost may be added to the soil if desired, but isn’t necessary.
For fertilization after planting, either a dry mix fertilizer or a foliar spray can be used. Foliar sprays containing N,P,K, magnesium (Mg), may be applied every 8-10 weeks, with an additional foliar application of a 1% solution of ferrous sulfate if the spray mixture does not already include iron.
Dry mixes should contain 6 to 10% N, 6 to 10% P, 6 to 10% K, and 4 to 6% Ma and CA. Periodic use of chelated iron material or a liquid iron supplement is also recommended for fertilization of pineapple plants.
Micronutrient mixes are also recommended for home pineapple growing. These can be found in the form of foliar sprays which can be applied to the plants 2 or three times a year.
The sprays should contain zinc and manganese, and might also contain iron. All of these nutrients, even if only in small amounts, are necessary for growing healthy pineapples.
Jack’s Classic is a good standard all-purpose fertilizer and Organic Plant Magic is my favorite organic all-purpose fertilizer. An all-purpose fertilizer is one that has a healthy does of the macronutrients N,P,K and also the important micronutrients for plant health and growth.
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