Dealing With Pineapple Problems: Managing Pineapple Pests And Diseases

Dealing With Pineapple Problems: Managing Pineapple Pests And Diseases

By: Kristi Waterworth

Growing pineapples isn’t always all fun and games, but you can produce a perfect pineapple with helpful information about pests and diseases that affect this plant. Read on to learn about common pineapple pests and plant diseases so you know what you should be watching for as your plant develops and how to treat issues in pineapple.

Dealing with Pineapple Problems

There is something truly intoxicating about the rum-like smell of a properly ripe pineapple, but when you’ve grown that fruit yourself, the experience can be almost transcendent. Because it can take many months for a pineapple fruit to mature, however, the plant has a lot of opportunities to develop disease or pick up pests, like beetles. Fortunately, most common pineapple problems are simple to correct.

Pineapple plant diseases and pests can ruin an otherwise promising harvest, but if you already know how to identify common issues, you can be proactive about managing them. These are some of the most common pineapple problems and some hints for dealing with pineapple problems:

Mealybugs and scale. These sap-sucking pineapple pests love pineapple as much as you do, so check the undersides of leaves of your plant regularly. With mealybugs, you’ll notice fluffy, wax-like material building up near the fuzzy looking insects. Scale may be less obvious, since they may be hiding under waxy or cottony covers. Both can be treated the same way, using horticultural oil, either by spraying or dipping the whole plant if mealybugs are present at the base of the plant.

Nematodes. Various nematodes are attracted to pineapples, ultimately resulting in a sickly plant, reduced fruit production and a generally steady decline. Ridding yourself of nematodes is difficult, so it’s best to not encourage them to begin with by using clean, sterile medium for growing pineapples indoors or in a greenhouse. A three year crop rotation with grasses like green foxtail grass are recommended for pineapples in the garden. If you already have nematodes, the best plan of action is to support your plant with good feeding and watering practices, then dispose of it after fruiting, if successful.

Top rot and root rot. These two common fungal diseases can be controlled the same way, though they are caused by different pathogens. Root rot’s only visible sign is a plant that looks like it needs to be watered, with drooping leaves and general signs of distress. Top rot may eventually show up as dead leaves around the center of the plant. Both are caused by overwatering or poorly drained soils. Immediately changing watering practices and repotting in clean, dry soil can help with potted plants, outdoor plants will need bed drainage improvements and paper mulching is recommended.

Crookneck. Occurring mainly in plants 12 to 15 months of age or suckers, crookneck is caused by a zinc deficiency in the soil. Heart leaves may become twisted, brittle and yellow-green and the plant itself may bend over and grow in a nearly horizontal position. Eventually, small blisters may form, then develop into gray-brown sunken spots. Treatment is with a one percent solution of zinc sulfate to correct the mineral deficiency.

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The pineapple plant (Ananas comosus) is a terrestrial bromeliad that grows in tropical climates worldwide. This sun worshiper thrives only in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10 through 12 in North America and sulks when temperatures dare to drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. While it’s a relatively easy plant to grow, the pineapple plant’s leaves may turn yellow due to improper watering, disease or insect infestation.

Mother Nature’s Marvel

I am happy every time I walk by my pineapple plants — I love getting something for nothing. And I love when visitors ask about the unusual plant that’s placed prominently on a walkway in the backyard.

I get to tell them it was from a fruit our family ate a few years ago, and they’re amazed. And then I tell them to just cut the top off, clean it up a little bit and stick it in dirt, and they’re even more amazed.

Have you ever grown a pineapple plant from a kitchen scrap? Did it bear fruit? Tell us about it in the comments section below, and if you’d like to try your hand at growing another tropical plant, consider ginger. or check out our article on growing tropical flavor intensives and herbs at home.

Photos by Gretchen Heber, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Top uncredited photo by Gretchen Heber. Other uncredited photos via Shutterstock.

About Gretchen Heber

A former garden editor for a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas, Gretchen Heber goes through entirely too many pruners and garden gloves in a year’s time. She’s never met a succulent she didn’t like and gets really irritated every 3-4 years when Austin actually has a freeze cold enough to kill them. To Gretchen, nothing is more rewarding than a quick dash to the garden to pluck herbs to season the evening meal. And it’s definitely time for a happy dance when she’s able to beat the squirrels to the peaches, figs, or loquats.