Thursday, October 10, 2013

Random plant event: Ananas 'Mongo'

September 2013.

I've had Ananas 'Mongo'1 since November 2008, when we got some in at the ex-job. This is long enough ago that I don't remember much about the event, but I blogged about it at the time, so you can read that if you're interested.

It's grown pretty reliably ever since, and this year I put it outside for the summer. This was at least partly because it had gotten so big, and I wanted it out of my way, which is counterproductive because that only made it grow faster, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Depending on how much sun it was getting, it fluctuated between brown, green, and brown-and-green striped, and it got big, and it attracted frogs, and so on, and then at some point in mid-September, I noticed that it was getting really red in the center. Which was confusing, because I was pretty sure all the plants were getting less light, as we approached the equinox, but I took some photos and went on, as you do.

And then it got more intense. And then I started to see a bunch of little tiny bracts emerging from the center of the plant, and I clued in to the fact that this was the beginning of an inflorescence.

Since then, things have gone pretty much how you'd expect. First the inflorescence appeared --

-- and then the true flowers (lavender) began popping out.

Though they never pop out in focus. Dunno what that means.

This is easily the Big Plant Event of the Summer, like last summer's one-two punch of Epiphyllum and Clivia. I mean, other things have happened, some of which were also very exciting, but this is the most dramatic and unexpected. Like with the Clivia, I'd pretty much assumed that my conditions weren't going to be suitable for a bloom, and it was just going to be a foliage plant for me forever, and I was fine with that. So blooming is a huge bonus.

This is my favorite picture of the plant so far. I feel like it ought to be on top of a Christmas tree or something.

Next up: offsets. And the inevitable attempt to root all of them, no matter how little room I have.


1 Has probably been referred to previously as Ananas comosus 'Mongo' on the blog before, but the most recent web-surfing I've done on the subject suggests that it is not in fact a cultivar of A. comosus, but is instead a hybrid. Nobody will say what species are involved in making the hybrid, but there are only about eight or nine possibilities.a If I were being forced to guess, I'd guess that there's probably some A. nanus in there, because nanus has the small, bright pink fruit, and because many of the websites talking about 'Mongo' make reference to how small it is. (The smallness, in my opinion, is overstated. If smallness can be overstated. My plant is a solid 3 or 4 feetb across, which is medium to large for plants in my collection.) The color suggests some A. lucidus genes are in there too. But that's totally a guess.
     a Wikipedia says eight; Plant List says nine. The two sources agree on A. ananassoides, A. bracteata, A. comosus, A. fritzmuelleri, A. lucidus, A. nanus, and A. parguazensis. Wikipedia adds A. erectifolius, which Plant List claims is a synonym of A. lucidus, and Plant List includes two species not on Wikipedia's list: A. monstrosus and A. sagenaria. We will leave the question of which of these, if any, is a legitimate species to the pineapple taxonomists to fight out among themselves in tequila-fueled motorcycle cage matches, as is the pineapple taxonomist custom.
     b (0.9 to 1.2 m)


Nadya W-G said...

Wow... congratulations! Both on the baby pineapple and the awesome pictures.

You've got to name it now, you know. It is a well-known fact, according to my mother-in-law. Whenever a decorative pineapple develops a fruit, the said fruit needs a name and possibly a personality of its own, since the plant that bore it is about to croak...

ardas said...

Nice :)

Claude said...

My experience with pineapples is restricted to the ones I pull off the top of grocery store vareties. Handsome enough ad a house plant, if you don't mind it just sitting there. These ornamental s are interesting though.

Beth said...

Isn't that gorgeous!...

College Gardener said...

Awesome. Such an intense red.

Jordan in Oregon said...

As I scrolled down through the pictures, the instruments in Fiona Apple's "Pure Imagination" swelled up and it was appropriately inspirational.

Paul said...

Very neat. I did find it amusing that you didn't immediately clue in to the red = bloom time. Very common cycle for most of the brom family it seems. (But considering you never actually expected blooms, it is understandable. ;)

Paul VA said...

I rooted a pineapple from the supermarket several years ago. It grew fairly well as a house plant. After i put it outside one summer it started getting quite big. By the next summer i decided that it was too big to bring back at the end of the summer. Well apparently they can read minds because soon after it started growing a pineapple. The pineapple got to about 3/4 supermarket size, but was the sweetest pineapple Ive ever tasted. I rooted the top of that pineapple and im growing it now.

mr_subjunctive said...

Claude and Paul VA:

I've tried at least three times to root a pineapple top, and all three rotted pretty much immediately. I don't know if the issue was the source (supermarket pineapples in Iowa have done a bit of traveling to get here, and some of that's probably in pretty cold conditions) or the technique or what.


Well, some of that was also because the leaves fluctuated between red-brown and green the whole summer; initially it seemed like it could just be going more red-brown than usual.

Unknown said...

I also had many disappointing attempts to grow a pineapple top, until I found the trick of it.

First, when you cut the top off the pineapple, cut straight through the fruit, about an inch below where the green top attaches to the fruit. Next, cut downwards near the green top, removing all of the "collar" of fruit from the green stem. After that, peel the lower small leaves from the topknot - I usually, do about 4 or 5 complete circles of these small leaves.

This process will give you a healthy "cutting" which has a nice solid core. Take your cutting and put it in a container that will keep it upright, but still allow air to circulate around the cut base (I use a small wicker basket about 5 inches wide and 7 inches deep, so it holds the plant up by resting the leaves on the rim).

Place the whole thing in a bright spot, without direct sunlight, and leave it without water to dry out for at least a fortnight to a month, NO WATER! You want the cutting to dry out quite a bit, it doesn't even matter if the existing leaves start to dry out and die off at the tips.

What you are waiting for is this. Adventitious roots will develop from the cut surfaces. They will especially develop from the leaf scars where you pulled off the lower leaves. Once you see roots starting pot up your cutting but water lightly for the first month or two.

As soon as the plant becomes firmly attached to its potting mix you can treat it as a normal plant.

This method appears to be foolproof - every pineapple top that has passed through my hands since I discovered it has grown for me. None have rotted or shriveled up and died, even though I forgot about two of them and left them in the porch to dry off for about three months!

Hope this helps.