Ananas comosus is commonly known by a much sweeter name -- pineapple. And few can resist the sweet fruity taste of a fresh pineapple. The pineapple tree is native to southern Brazil and Paraguay, where wild varieties still grow; today leading producers grow pineapple in China, Brazil, Mexico and the U.S. -- commercial production in Hawaii provides about one-third of the world's pineapple crop. California produces very little pineapple commercially, but you can grow it yourself.
Cut the top, or crown, from a store-bought pineapple, 1 or 2 inches into the fruit below the leaves. Twist to remove the top from the body of the pineapple.
Peel the lower leaves off the crown. Take off 1 inch or so to reveal a long stem. Small bumps, from which roots will form will be visible and sometimes little roots, called root primordia, will be sprouting.
Place your pineapple in a cool, dry area and wait until a callous forms over the bottom of the crown to prevent the stalk from rotting, which can take anywhere from two days to a week.
Set the bottom of the crown in a dish with shallow water for a couple of days to allow it to absorb moisture and begin to root. You can add some rooting compound, according to product instructions, if you desire.
Fill a 1-gallon pot with a mixture of half potting soil and half sand. Plant the rooted pineapple top in the pot and move to larger pots as the plant grows. If you live along the southern coastal regions of California and it is summer, you may choose a location to plant the pineapple directly outside. Place the stem portion of the crown 2 inches into the soil and water thoroughly. Surround the crown with mulch if you are growing outside to conserve moisture and reduce weeds.
Water your pineapple plant frequently while it is rooting -- the exact timing will vary depending on heat, humidity and whether it is growing indoors in a pot or in the ground. Keep the soil moist but not drenched. Mist the pineapple plant periodically every few days to a week to add humidity.
Pull on the crown in about two months, gently testing to see if it resists removal. If the crown has rooted you will not be able to easily remove it from the soil. If it comes out easily, check to see if it is rotten and if so, start over with a new crown. If the crown is not rotten, plant it in the soil again and wait until it is rooted.
Keep potted pineapple plants inside when temperatures drop below about 60 degrees F. Pineapple trees can survive cooler temperatures, but frost will kill them. Cool temperatures signal hibernation to the pineapple plant. Provide them with bright light for at least six hours a day.
Water as needed to maintain moist soil; test by sticking your finger down into the soil up to your knuckle. If the soil feels dry, water it. Add houseplant fertilizer every two to four weeks according to product instructions.
Induce flowering -- the production of a pineapple fruit -- in one of two ways: lay the potted pineapple plant on its side until you water, then tip back over again. This causes the pineapple to begin producing the hormone ethylene, which causes flowering. Or, place the plant in, or surround it with, a plastic bag. Add an unripe apple to the bag, and replace it as needed for a month or two. A ripening apple emits ethylene gas, which signals flowering to the pineapple.