Pineapple Growing :

Its Historical Development and the Cultivation of the Victorian Pineapple Pit at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

  • Johanna Lausen-Higgins
  • Phil Lusby Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh


Pineapples are a tropical food crop, yet from the late 1600s onwards, they were grown extensively in the northerly latitudes of Europe. The race to produce the first fruit in Europe was won by the Dutch in 1685 but the production of the first British fruits between 1714 and 1716 triggered a mania for growing them and the horticultural developments that this stimulated are described. The advent of hot water heating from 1816 revolutionized pineapple growing and in the Victorian era the production of well-grown pineapples became the crucial challenge that every gardener worth his salt had to master so that fruits could be entered in the prestigious horticultural shows. The Victorian pineapple pit at The Lost Gardens of Heligan, which was restored in 1994, recalls 19th century pineapple growing. A description and evaluation of the cultivation of the pit using traditional Victorian methods, but lacking certain crucial facilities such as tanner’s bark and supplementary heating, is given.

Author Biographies

Johanna Lausen-Higgins
Johanna Lausen-Higgins was a student on the BSc in Horticulture with Plantsmanship at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh from 2005–08. She graduated in July 2008.
Phil Lusby, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Phil Lusby is the year tutor on the HND/BSc in Horticulture with Plantsmanship at the RBGE and has a specific interest in garden history. Prior to his appointment in the School of Horticulture he co-ordinated the Scottish Rare Plant Project, a project funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, based at RBGE.


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How to Cite
Lausen-Higgins, J., & Lusby, P. (2008). Pineapple Growing :. Sibbaldia: The International Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture, (6), 29-39.