How to Grow Pomegranates



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Days to germination: Seedlings are usually purchased
Days to harvest: 5 years
Light requirements: Full sun or slight shade
Water requirements: Only during dry weather
Soil: Well-drained or even sandy soil
Container: Suitable for dwarf or even standard trees

Introduction

Pomegranates grow on fairly small trees that could even be classed as shrubs. They rarely grow taller than 10 feet. The fruit is very unique and though it is commonly eaten fresh, it’s a bit difficult to enjoy that way. Inside the thick tough rind are a large number of little juice-filled “berries” inside, each with a little seed inside. The juice will stain, so it can be a challenge to get the edible bits out of the fruit without making a mess. Pomegranate juice is currently very popular for it’s healthy qualities.

The juice is high in vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B5, as well as a number of antioxidants that have a long list of health benefits. If you eat the small seeds in each “berry”, you will also get a dose of fiber.

You will need to be in zones 7 to 10 in order to grow pomegranates as it’s a native of the Middle East. The most common variety grown in the United States is the Wonderful pomegranate.

Starting Your Tree

When buying a pomegranate seedling or sapling, make sure you are not buying a flowering variety that doesn’t produce edible fruit. Fruiting trees are self-fertile so you don’t need more than one tree.

If you know someone with a pomegranate tree, you can actually start a new tree with a cutting. A branch at least 10 inches long can be cut from a healthy tree, and the cut end treated with powdered rooting hormone. Plant the tip about 5 to 6 inches into loose potting soil, and keep it moist. You will have longer to wait before you get any fruit, compared to a larger purchased seedling, but it can be a handy way to propagate a tree that you know produces well.

Tree Care

If you want your pomegranate to grow in a tree form, you will need to prune the many suckers that sprout up from the base of the trunk. You’ll also want to prune any dead branches each spring to keep your tree healthy. Once you have created a tree form for your plant, it shouldn’t require too much more pruning.

After about 3 years, you will start to see your tree developing from fruit but it will probably drop most of them before they mature. This is normal for pomegranates, and you won’t start to get a real harvest until around 5 years of age.

Pomegranates are quite drought-tolerant but during any extended dry periods they should be given a deep watering at least every 3 weeks if necessary. Fertilizer is helpful for the first year or two but after that most trees will do fine without additional nutrients unless you happen to have particularly poor soil. A yearly feeding or even just a dressing of compost or aged manure is enough.

Containers

Pomegranates work fine in large containers, though you should keep it well trimmed and pruned to a small size. A dwarf variety will thrive the best. When shopping for a dwarf tree, double-check that it will produce fruit. The shrubs have lovely flowers, and many dwarf or potted trees are ornamental only.

Container plants will need a bit more water than garden-planted ones, but pomegranates will do fine in dry soil so you shouldn’t need to water too frequently.

Pests and Diseases

There are not a huge number of potential insect pests for pomegranates and they are a very easy tree to grow because of it. Aphids can be a problem, but regular sprays with soapy water can help wash them off and keep them away.

The pomegranate butterfly is one insect specific to the pomegranate but it’s only common in some regions. The butterfly lays eggs in the flower buds, and the growing larvae will bore into the new fruit to feed. You’ll need to spray your trees once or even twice during the early spring. Once they have moved into the fruit, they are difficult to kill.

Leaves may develop some spots from various kinds of blight, but none are usually serious with pomegranates. Cut off any infected branches as soon as you see leaf blotching, and you should be fine as long as it hasn’t spread through the entire tree.

The tough outer rind generally protects the fruit, so birds and other larger pests are not usually a problem except occasionally when the fruit is very young.

Harvest and Storage

Your pomegranates are ready to pick when their outside rind has turned deep red. Once they start to crack open, they have gotten over-ripe. Expect your fruit to be ready about 6 months after the flowers appear. As mentioned above you will start to get a reliable harvest at around 5 years and your tree can continue to produce until 15 to 20 years old. They will live considerably longer than that, and can continue to give a reduced number of pomegranates for decades.

Fresh pomegranates can be kept in the fridge for about 2 months, and you can even store them at cool room temperature if you prefer but they will only last 2 weeks in that case. If you are able to store them in a basement or root cellar type of area, they will store best (much like apples). A location with temperatures just above freezing and high humidity will keep pomegranates fresh for up to 6 months.

For more long storage, you can freeze the edible flesh “berries” (they’re actually called arils). Remove them from the fruit, and spread them out on a baking sheet in the freezer. Once they are frozen, you can keep them in a freezer bag or other container. If you don’t spread them out before freezing, they will freeze solid into one big block. After freezing, they lose their texture and should only be used for juicing or other uses rather than just eating whole.

33 Responses to “How to Grow Pomegranates”

  1. Joyce  Says:

    I live in Southern New Mexico and grow pomegranates. I would like to add that I always have a lot of fruit in the late fall, and I never use sprays so it may not always be necessary. I don’t have fruit drops either. Each bloom produces fruit for me. My Dad grew them in an area 3 hours from where I live now and he didn’t always get fruit, but never had to spray.

  2. Candy  Says:

    Hi!I live in south central Texas and was given a small 1 gallon pom tree. I have no idea which variety, but it’s been in the ground for about 5 years. No flowers and no fruit, ever! Any ideas why? The small tree is about 6 ft. and healthy! Thanks!

  3. joe  Says:

    Candy,
    You’re probably in a very suitable climate for pomegranate, so it could be due to too much water or nitrogen. If the plant feels like it has things too good, it will put all of its energy into growing more leaves and branches, at the expense of fruit. Then again, you could have had the bad luck of getting a seedling instead of a named cultivar with a proven fruiting record. Worst case scenario, you don’t have a pomegranate at all (flowers and fruit would be the only surefire way to know).

  4. Bryan  Says:

    What should the spacing between pomegranate trees be for backyard (backyard orchard culture) planting ?

  5. john butera  Says:

    I live in mount airy,nc. I have a 7 year “bush.” It has never produced fruit but has had several beautiful pastel flowers. Should I prune the bush into tree? My Dad grew this from seeds then gave the little seedling to me in a cup. Dad is gone, the “bush” remains.

  6. Barb  Says:

    Where can you purchase the seeds or the seedling/sapling?

  7. Warren Miller  Says:

    I live in New Orleans ,La. I have a pomegranate tree growing in my front yard it gets lots of sun and has produced a few flowers how do I get it to produce a lot of flowers that will bear fruit ? Do I need to add a special food to it ? How do I keep insects from destroying fruit ? I’m training it to a tree instead of a bush ; is that good or bad?

  8. Debbie  Says:

    Son lives in Panama City Beach, FL. He has grown pomegranates on a healthy bush for a couple years but the pomegranates are always very tart. How can we sweeten the fruit?

  9. Agnes  Says:

    I bought a pomegranate perennial plant the top flowers are dead. Should I break, cut or leave them alone ?
    I will be repotting it not placing in the garden

  10. lauren  Says:

    I have a pomegranate tree that produces fruit in NE San Antonio, Tx. Do pomegranates fruit on new or old wood? I would like to do some pruning this winter.

  11. Webby  Says:

    I grew three baby plants from seed. I live in a tropical island. They look healthy and each have a different but identifiable shape. One of them is quite tall and thin, but leaning quite a bit. Should I trim the top, say 1 or 2 inches? Will it force the plant to grow branches from the lower stem. I’m just worried that a sudden gust of wind will snap it. They are 6 months old and in a pot, when should I put it in soil?

  12. Gautam  Says:

    Last season, I did not get a single pomegranate, and I have 4 trees. Every ripe fruit had a hole in it. I suspect birds. So, how to protect my fruits from pesky birds?

  13. Michelle  Says:

    I planted my a one gallon pomegranate last year it put on flowers and fruit. It looks dead now. Will it come back?

  14. joanne gunn  Says:

    i have beautiful trees. but very bitter can’t eat would you happen to know what to do to make sweet loads of fruit thanks for nyour help Joanne

  15. Hetal  Says:

    Hi can you please suggest, I have a fruitless pomogranete tree in the my backyard alomost 8 to 10 feet and ot bears beaitiful flowers as well, is there any method or by hand pollination can help bear fruits?

  16. Barry  Says:

    I found from one of the guys at Pikes nursery that the poms they sell are from Monrovia plant nursery and are ornamental only and will never produce fruit. I have 3-4 of these and are blooming right now but just flower then fall off. I have found the variety Wonderful will produce and have since purchased these anticipating fruit soon.

  17. Leonard Bynum  Says:

    Pomegranates grow on new wood. Pruning should take place after first year of growth and continue to shape the tree so that new growth for fruiting occurs and overcrowding doesn’t. Hope this helps. I am starting a orchard and nursery for pomegranates, olives, pears, apples and figs in South Mississippi. We have done extensive research and development for our stock and will start selling fruit in 2 years and plants in one year. In case anyone is interested. We do not yet have a website but our operation is called Rocking Horse farms and email: LenBynum@juno.com

  18. Patricia  Says:

    I have a Utah Sweet pomegranate that I purchased at a local nursery last spring. It was a 3 gallon plant. It is green but has never grown or flowered. I have it in full sun and water deeply two or three times a week now that it is getting pretty hot here. I have 3 ornamental pomegranates in pots that grow, flower and fruit.
    Thanks for your help.

  19. jo anne mathews  Says:

    My next door neighbor had dozens of fruit trees. He always shared his over abundance. He also taught me and my young children about the differant trees. One was the pomagranite a wonderful.it had large fruit and we waited for the fruit to pop open before picking.Long story, he has been gone and now I need help. A wonderful started growing in my yard about six years ago.The first season it had about twelve poms. The next twenty.It did well until we had a winter with temps below zero for several days.I thought it was gone. Thank God it came back last year with no fruit.This year I it has doubled in size. So far as of June 9 I have only four flowers.FINALLY my question.Will I get more flowers this season and fruit?Do the flowers bloom all at once or will it fill up?

  20. Kevin Newman  Says:

    I live in a high desert. My 10 year old pomegranate bush has dozens of fruit, but only a few are reddish yet. At least 35 of them have cracked wide open. A few show signs of birds pecking, but the seeds are mostly untouched and white. What is causing this, and what can I do to save the rest of the harvest?

  21. Katie  Says:

    We recently bought a house that has quite a large Pom tree. it grew flowers and the fruit is now growing but they are starting to split and they arent red yet? too much water? not enough sun?

  22. Alan Pitt  Says:

    I have a pomegranate tree which flowers and then fall off

  23. mimi wolverton  Says:

    I planted a pomegranate tree in a large pot. It did fine all summer but its leaves are now turning yellow and dropping. Any ideas? Too much water, not enough? What?

  24. Helen Sheehan  Says:

    I live in the Phoenix, AZ area. My pomegranate tree flowers and forms fruit, but the fruit never turns from yellow to red. It splits and falls off before the fruit turns red. Any suggestions?

  25. Helen Sheehan  Says:

    My pomegranate tree forms fruit, but stays yellow — fruit never turns red before it splits and falls off. Any suggestions?

  26. Sherri Drouillard  Says:

    where can I buy pomegranate seedlings?

  27. Tina  Says:

    Hi folks. I live in southeastern TX between San Antonio & Houston. We bought a house this year that has a pomegranate tree that looks healthy and had a lot of fruit on it this year…BUT not healthy looking fruit. Some of them didn’t get much bigger than a grape, some did get bigger but turned black. We didn’t get one good fruit so far as I can tell. It’s growing near the home which has a sprinkler system so it gets watered for about 7 minutes every evening. Any suggestions, tips, etc. will be appreciated. Thank you.

  28. Drew  Says:

    Hi Katie,

    We have the same problem in our garden in southern Spain. Not a lot of water here and lots of sunlight so I’d rule those out for us. Our tree is now quite big (10 feet?) and I read in another post fruit grows on new wood so maybe lack of pruning is the problem? Pomegranates apparently disperse their seed by exploding so the behaviour may be quite natural.

  29. bob  Says:

    Can someone please tell me how best to remove the fruit? Do I cut back to the closest leaf cluster or cut it off right next to the fruit?

  30. ISA  Says:

    I bought a POM tree, when is the best time to plant it on the ground?

  31. ISA  Says:

    I have a Pomegrante tree in a big container; when is the best time to put it in the ground. I live in Central Florida.

  32. Omar  Says:

    Hi. Most of all pomegranates trees or varieties need cool or cold weather and places close to mountains. If not that’s why they usually taste bitter or tart. They don’t need too much water, so wet places don’t help. In my hometown in Northern Mexico pomegranates grow everywhere and harvest sweet fruit almost without care. I think it has to do with climate and dry soil.

  33. Omar Hibbi  Says:

    Hi Omar, I am planning to retire in Deming, NM (Southern NM area). Any chance I can successfully grow Pomo sweet fruit bearing trees – I like a lot of these trees with sweet bearing fruit?

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