Pomegranates are heavy, leathery skins enclose rich seed-containing arils that make for mouthwatering apple-sized red fruits. The blooming plants thrive in warmer climates, and pomegranate fruit develops on small to huge shrubs or tiny ornamental trees. Pomegranate trees are simple to produce and harvest in the winter when grown in ideal circumstances. You can use the arils in salads, in cooking, or make pomegranate juice by boiling the pods.
Pomegranates are simple to cultivate in a warm climate, however they may experience certain problems. If left on the tree for too long, pomegranate fruit, for example, may split. The fruits may be infested by leaf-footed bugs, which rot them. Nevertheless, with the appropriate care, you may easily cultivate pomegranate trees in your yard to enjoy these delicious fruits. This is a thorough guide on how to cultivate pomegranates at home or in the garden. You’ll learn how to tell when pomegranates are ready to pick, in addition to useful information on pomegranate tree care.
How to Grow Pomegranate
Plant the shrub (or tree) in a location with plenty of sunlight to grow a pomegranate. A pomegranate tree needs at least six hours of direct sun per day to thrive. The pomegranate should be planted in rich, well-drained soil for optimal development. The pomegranate tree should be watered on a regular basis in order to get enough soil moisture.
Pomegranate bushes are drought-tolerant plants once they have been established. Regular watering, on the other hand, is required for excellent flowering and fruit development. When leaves first appear in late winter or early spring, it’s also a good idea to apply a thick layer of compost. Large pomegranates grow more favorably when pruned pomegranate trees are present. To keep the tree’s size consistent, you may prune branches after the leaves have fallen. Moreover, by thinning pomegranate fruit down to one every 6 inches, bigger fruit development is aided.
What is Pomegranate?
Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a deciduous shrub in the Lythraceae family that grows between 10 and 12 feet (3 and 3.6 meters) tall. Most individuals cultivate pomegranate as a tree in their garden, despite the fact that it is a multi-stemmed shrub.
The Mediterranean, Middle East, tropical Africa, Central Asia, and Indian subcontinent are all home to pomegranates. The pomegranate’s name comes from the term “seeded apple,” which accurately describes its spherical shape and seed-filled inside. Pomegranates come in a variety of colors, including orange, yellow, pink, and black.
The massive crimson ball-like fruit is usually referred to when discussing pomegranates. The skin of pomegranate fruits is smooth and has six sides. The fruit is separated into many compartments, each with a pomegranate seed, on the inside. The lustrous surface and crown-like structure of pomegranates distinguish them.
The flavor of pomegranate fruit might be sweet or acidic. Pomegranate trees have leathery leaves that are glossy and oval to oblong in shape, growing in a vase shape. The leaves are 1″ to 4″ (2.5 – 10 cm) long and grow in whorls of five or more. Between 10 and 12 feet (3 – 3.6 m) tall and broad, the pomegranate shrub-like tree grows. USDA zones 8 through 10 are perfect for pomegranates.
Varieties of Pomegranate to Grow at Home
Pomegranate (Punica granatum) has over 500 cultivars, and certain cultivars are easier to cultivate than others. Moreover, several pomegranate cultivars thrive in USDA zone 7 and have a sweet flavor. Pomegranates may be found growing in southern states in the following varieties:
- Sweet—This kind of pomegranate has a sweet flesh and pink skin, as the name implies. Large fruits abound on the pomegranate tree.
- Sienivyi—This pomegranate has a sweet flavor and is big and seeded. One of the most well-known pomegranate types is this.
- Angel Red—The skin and arils of this pomegranate are bright red. It is well-known for producing pomegranate juice and its flesh is very juicy.
- Balegal—Pomegranate is a hardy variety that produces huge fruits with delicious flesh and grows in zone 7.
- Wonderful—The pomegranate has huge crimson fruits with a tangy flavor and loose seeds, which are ideal for hot, dry places.
Pomegranate Tree Pollination
Pomegranate blossoms are self-pollinating flowers with both stamens and pistils in the same structure. The showy flowers, on the other hand, are attractive to pollinators in bright red, orange or pink. The flowers may also be cross-pollinated by insects, such as flies and hummingbirds, or other flowers from the same plant. You only need one tree or shrub to produce fruit because pomegranate is self-pollinating.
Pomegranate Tree Flowers
Pomegranate flowers are lovely crimson trumpets with twisted petals and a crepe paper appearance. Single or double blooms, 1″ (2.5 cm) wide, occur on the ruffled flowers. You should only prune pomegranate flowers when the tree is dormant because they appear on new wood.
The majority of pomegranate blooms are flawless, meaning they contain both masculine and feminine characteristics. The bush, on the other hand, also has some male (single-sex) pomegranate blooms. Once they’ve made pollen, these are generally shed. As a result, if you notice flowers falling, don’t be concerned.
How to Grow Pomegranate Plant in a Pot
A little pomegranate tree fits beautifully in a pot and can be cultivated indoors. A 10-gallon (38 l) container with well-draining soil is ideal for growing the dwarf pomegranate tree. Make sure that the pot’s base has drainage holes to let water escape.
Place the container in full sun outdoors or beside a sunny window indoors to grow a potted pomegranate tree. When the tree is being watered heavily, especially as harvest season approaches, ensure that the soil stays evenly moist. Deep watering once or twice a week may be required during hot summer spells.
During the growing season, you should also fertilize the potted pomegranate plant on a regular basis. Applying twice a year in late fall (November) and early spring (February) with a balanced liquid fertilizer with an NPK rating of 10-10-10 is ideal. You might need to spray diluted zinc solution on the leaves if you notice yellowing foliage.
If you reside in a chilly region, growing pomegranates in pots is a good idea. During the summer months, you may put the pot in a sunny spot in your yard. Then, when the temperature drops below 40°F (4°C), bring the pot inside. Place the pomegranate container near a bright window, but out of the direct midday heat, while growing indoors.
How to Plant a Pomegranate Tree
Pomegranate is a shrub-like plant with multiple stems. As a result, regular upkeep and pruning are required to maintain a pomegranate as a lovely fruit tree. When appropriately trained, a pomegranate tree can grow up to 20 feet (6 meters) tall.
You must remove the suckers from the main trunk of a bushy pomegranate shrub in order for it to grow as a tree. Leave the pomegranate to grow freely for the first year. Remove suckers from the four strongest-looking sprouts during the second year. Continue to chop the emerging stems during the growing season.
The stocky framework of the pomegranate should develop into a tree. It’s important to keep in mind that during the first year of development, a freshly planted pomegranate tree requires abundant water. Depending on the soil’s drainage, this requires watering the root system deeply once or twice a week.
Where to Grow Pomegranate Plants
Pomegranate trees or bushes need bright, well-draining acidic soil and plenty of sunlight. Plenty of sunlight and slightly acidic soil that drains well are the two most important requirements for growing pomegranates in the ground. The tree will grow slower in mildly alkaline soil.
Pick the brightest location in your garden for a healthy pomegranate tree. More sunlight encourages more pomegranates to grow. Some shade tolerance is exhibited by a pomegranate tree, although it will not yield as many delicious red fruits. In addition, the tree will be more protected from frost damage in a protected environment. A pomegranate bush can be grown in average garden soil, as long as it drains well and you keep the earth damp.
Dig a 12 inch (30 cm) deep hole to check soil drainage. Next, to determine how long it takes to drain, fill the hole with water. The water level should drop by 1 inch (2.5 cm) per hour in well-drained soil. Clay, compacted soil, or a slower rate might indicate this. The sandy soil may not hold enough moisture if it drains too quickly.
How to Water a Pomegranate Tree
Pomegranate trees must have enough water to create abundant fruit. Give a pomegranate tree around 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water every week in order to water it properly. Water the tree more frequently during dry spells to keep the soil moist. Pomegranate trees grown on sandy soils also need to be watered more often than those grown on clay soils.
While a pomegranate tree is drought-tolerant, it takes care of its fruit by getting watered on a regular basis. Fruiting may be poor if the soil is excessively dry, and the pomegranate fruits may drop before they are ripe.
Temperature and Humidity for Growing Pomegranates
The majority of pomegranate trees flourish in USDA regions 8–10, but several hardy types grow in zone 7. USDA zones 8 through 10 are ideal for the decorative tree. Yet, certain cultivars may be grown in zone 7. Pomegranates prefer a temperature range of 73°F to 90°F (23° – 32°).
Temperatures as low as 10° (-12°C) can be handled by the hardiest pomegranate trees. However, growing a pomegranate shrub in a container, similar to a citrus potted plant, is highly recommended if you typically get freezing weather. Pomegranates must be grown indoors in drier conditions to yield ripe, delicious fruits. Flower production may be harmed by too much humidity, which may cause a bad harvest or rotting fruit.
Pomegranate Tree Fertilizer
In order to keep acidic soil conditions, pomegranate trees benefit from including organic compost or rotting manure. Spring is the ideal season to fertilize a pomegranate bush. Over the entire root area, cover with a thick layer of mulch and leave about 5 inches (13 cm) clear from the main stem.
Add a layer of compost on top. It’s worth noting that fertilizing in the summer or fall may decrease your harvest. Since additional nutrients help new growth thrive in late fall, a frost may damage it. Compost can be added to the tree’s root area in November, though this is not necessary.
Pomegranate Tree Pruning
Pruning a pomegranate tree can help to increase fruit production or improve its look. However, if you want to improve the appearance of your ornamental pomegranate tree, pruning is also a good idea. The branches of the pomegranate tree are trimmed to create a beautiful effect.
Prune crossed-over branches in the center of the vase-shaped crown after the risk of frost has passed in late winter. Furthermore, check for and remove diseased, weak, or straggly branches. If you are growing a pomegranate tree, cut off any suckers at the same time.
Shortening the branches of a pomegranate tree to encourage fruit production is necessary. Next, cut back the main branches in early spring to promote side shoots to develop. Flowering and fruiting buds are encouraged to develop with this kind of pruning. Assume you have a fully developed pomegranate tree, but just a few fruits. To encourage the tree to flower and produce a bumper crop of ripe fruit, you can severely cut back the branches in that case.
Picking Pomegranates – How to Tell If a Pomegranate is Ripe
Between August and November, pomegranate trees are best picked for ripe fruit. The color of the rind and its form can be used to determine whether a pomegranate is ripe. The round to a somewhat hexagonal form of the apple-sized fruit is ideal. The skin should also be matte, not glossy. During pomegranate season, here are a few more ways to choose a mature fruit:
- The fruit’s edges start to flatten out.
- Removing the fruit from the tree is simple. Harvesting mature pomegranates by cutting them off is, however, recommended.
- Tap on the hard shell and listen for a metallic sound.
The fruit splitting on the tree is a sign that a pomegranate is becoming too ripe.
How to Propagate a Pomegranate Tree
Hardwood stem cuttings are simple to propagation a pomegranate. Take a couple of 10-inch (25 cm) cuttings that are 0.25″ – 0.5″ (0.6 – 1.2 cm) thick from late winter, before any new growth appears. Afterwards, place the cut ends in rooting hormone.
Then, put the new pomegranate where you want it to grow right into the ground. If you want to grow a shrub, Space the pomegranate cuttings at least 3 feet (1 meter) apart. To grow a few pomegranate trees, spacing should be approximately 18 feet (5.5 meters) apart.
Growing Pomegranates From Seed
Pomegranate plants can be grown from seed. A pomegranate tree takes three to five years to bear fruit from seed. Pomegranates, on the other hand, are difficult to grow from seed and not always successful. As a result, acquiring some cuttings is the best way to establish a new pomegranate.
But, if you want to grow pomegranate from seed, follow these steps:
In the winter, remove some pomegranate seeds from ripe fruit. Next, wash and dry the seeds before allowing them to air. Then, in some light potting soil, place the seeds 0.25″ (0.6 cm) deep. Keep the soil moist by covering it with a clear plastic bag and keeping it on a sunny, warm windowsill. By spring, when there is no longer a danger of frost, the seedlings should be ready to plant in the garden.
Pomegranate Care During Fall and Winter
When cultivating the plants in pots in colder areas, overwintersing a pomegranate tree is required. Prune back the potted plant by half to get a pomegranate ready for winter. This should be done around six weeks before the first frost date. Next, place the pomegranate pot in a sunny, south-facing window indoors.
Keep the temperature in your home above 60°F (15°C). Healthy growth requires that the plant isn’t exposed to any cold or hot drafts, and the air humidity level should be maintained. Water the potted plant thoroughly every 10 days, keeping only 1 inch (2.5 cm) of it moist. It’s important to keep the plant dry throughout the growing season.
Pests and Diseases Affecting Pomegranate Tree
Pomegranate trees, like all garden plants, are susceptible to a variety of pests that include insects and plant destroyers. Aphids, leaf-footed bugs, mealybugs, pomegranate fruit borers, whiteflies, and thrips are common pests that may harm a pomegranate plant. The juice of pomegranate plants is eaten by certain insects, such as mealybugs. Some butterfly larvae, on the other hand, eat away the inside of the fruit.
Insecticidal soap, a neem oil solution, or a sharp blast of water from the hose may all be used to get rid of aphid eggs and larvae from pomegranate plants. The symptoms of root rot in pomegranate leaves are usually fungal, which is visible. Planting a pomegranate tree in well-drained soil and preventing it from being overwatered may help you avoid this problem. You must eliminate the light brown patches on the leaves and make sure the soil drains properly if you see them.
Pomegranate fruit may be infected with a fungal condition known as heart rot. When the shrubs were blooming, high humidity levels may have resulted in the disease. Heart rot in pomegranate fruit, however, is incurable.