The Versatile Pomegranate Tree (or Espalier, Shrub, Hedge, or Container Plant)
The pomegranate can play many roles in your edible landscaping
Pretty in three seasons, you’ll enjoy its shiny leaves and crinkly red-orange flowers in spring, and uniquely shaped rosy fruits in summer and fall.
* Prune it as a single-trunk or multi-trunk tree
* Train it along a sunny fence or wall as an espalier
* Plant it in a container
* Let it follow its own course as a shrub
* Grow a useful, fruitful hedge
Left to their own devices, pomegranates want to be shrubs, but with their narrow branches they can be trained and pruned into other shapes.
Gardeners rejoice at the prospect of a fruitful plant that doesn’t need major pruning. Traditional fruit trees are grand but there’s annual work in managing a classical orchard of apples, peaches, and pears.
With shrubby producers like pomegranates you can intervene by quickly removing suckers and doing some thinning, and save most of your pruning time for the trees that really require it.
However you train it, you’ll have a hummingbird magnet in the springtime.
Light annual pruning required
All pomegranates need some pruning
Pomegranates fruit at the ends of 2-3 year-old branches, so harvesting is easy (which is nice, since the branches are somewhat thorny). This means that annual thinning of the branches is important, to generate “fruiting wood”. Remove suckers at the base of the pomegranate, to maintain vigor.
In our latest video, Tricia shows how to plant in a container, and explains the basics of pruning pomegranates as trees or shrubs.
Tricia is training her new pomegranate as a single-trunk tree in our video. To maintain that shape, be diligent about cutting off suckers as they rise up.
For this kind of multi-trunk tree, choose several strong suckers and let them mature, then remove other suckers every year. Protect your pomegranate from being killed outright by a hard freeze—grow it as a multi-trunk tree or as a shrub, so that if part of the plant is killed, part will survive. [Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Side (Turkey) by Georges Jansoone on 20 April 2005]
Since the pomegranate really wishes it were a shrub, use a simple espalier style (like this six-arm cordon) instead of attempting strict geometry. Lee Reich gives good instructions about starting and maintaining espalier, with many kinds of fruit trees and bushes, in his beautifully photographed book, Landscaping With Fruit.
Use a container to place your pomegranate anywhere on your hardscape or in your garden. Train it as a single-trunk or as a small shrub.
If you prefer a shrub, let the pomegranate sprawl, but do the annual maintenance pruning shown in the video to keep the shrub healthy and fruitful. This shrub is growing on a hillside in Spain.
Whether you have a farm that could use some hedges as windbreaks, or a large garden that needs hedgy walls to create garden rooms, look to the drama of the pomegranate. Imagine the glossy hedges, studded first with the scarlet flowers, and then with the distinctive fruit. Plant the pomegranates 6’-9’ apart. The shrubs will spread their branches, and suckers will also grow between the original plantings, to form a hedge.
If you live in USDA zones 7b-12, check out our wide range of pomegranate choices.
Tip: Want all the lusciousness and nutrients of pomegranates, without the red juice? Try our Eversweet pomegranate with clear juice!
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