Beautiful gardens by William Johnson
IS IT REALLY possible to grow a pineapple from the top portion of a fresh pineapple purchased from the grocery store? That’s a question I am sometimes asked.
The answer is that pineapples are easy and fun to grow at home. All you need is a warm environment, a sunny window and a fresh pineapple.
The first thing you do is enjoy the pleasure of eating the “fruit” end of the pineapple. Then begin the process of growing your own pineapple plant by rooting the green vegetative top by placing it in a container of potting soil that provides good drainage.
Set the potted plant in a location that receives at least six hours of bright light each day. The pineapple is a tropical plant and frost or freezing temperatures will kill it.
By next spring, the plant should be well rooted and actively growing. Active growth can be encouraged with frequent light applications of a liquid houseplant fertilizer.
Pineapple plants are interesting foliage specimens, well worth growing for the leaves alone. But, if you’d like to go a step further, you can easily grow your own miniature pineapples.
Once the plant has covered itself with a complete set of robust new leaves, which generally takes six to nine months, it will be ready to “think” about flowering.
Oddly enough, a small slice of apple placed down in the central growing point of the new leaves has the ability to initiate flowering. As the apple decomposes, it produces ethylene gas, which brings about this physiological changeover.
As gases are involved, you’ll obviously need to cover the plant, preferably with an airtight bag of clear polyethylene film, such as a dry cleaner’s bag. Tie the bag securely around the pot and be careful not to punch holes through the thin film. Place the covered plant in a well-lit area that does not receive direct sunlight.
Replace the apple slice with a freshly cut slice every seven to 10 days. After a month or six weeks, you can remove the plastic, when Mother Nature will usually surprise you with a flower and small fruit. While it’s far less work and effort to purchase pineapples from a grocery store, the novelty of growing your own provides satisfaction in knowing that you’ve grown it yourself – plus it’s a great project to start with the kids!
Another question I was asked recently is what I would suggest in dealing with suckers or seedlings that emerge under oak trees. Could using a herbicide be harmful to the tree?
My answer is that you will have to tolerate the suckers because the more you cut them the more they multiply. Some homeowners keep them trimmed at a certain height and interplant Asiatic jasmine as a ground cover to help conceal oak sprouts as the foliage is similar.
Do not apply a herbicide to sprouts as they are probably connected directly to the mother tree and it could cause damage. The herbicide will do little more than defoliate the sprouts and could harm the tree to which they are attached.
William Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Visit his website at aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm.
A roadside wildflower
that’s pretty in pink
THE BLUEBONNET definitely ranks as Texas’ most popular wildflower. However, the state is also home to more than 1,000 varieties of wildflower. Whether driving or strolling along, travelers canaenjoy lots of colorful wildflowers throughout the growing season.
One roadside flower is the pink evening primrose. At least that’s one of its common names. Others include showy evening primrose, white evening primrose and pink lady. While several different species grow in Texas, the species found most often in our particular area is oenothera speciosa.
The pink evening primrose is a familiar roadside wildflower at this time of year. Most of the dense patches of pink petals that travelers see alongside our roads are pink evening primroses. The pink evening primrose is a prolific bloomer from spring to mid summer and, depending on weather, again in the fall.
Despite their common name, some pink evening primroses produce near-white flowers that display pink or red veins and yellow centers. It is common to see a large patch of pink evening primroses with white petals growing next to a large patch with pink flowers.
The bowl-shaped flowers face skyward and are tissue-like, two to three inches wide, with prominent yellow stamens and pistils. They often contain a reddish tinge to their veins, which resemble a fine network of blood vessels.
Pink evening primroses are easy to grow from seed. However, they can become invasive in ornamental beds and even lawns. They send their roots far and wide during the winter, when no top growth is visible, then pop up everywhere in the spring.