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How to Grow a Pomegranate Tree

Pomegranates play many roles in the edible landscape. With lush green leaves and beautiful red blossoms on pomegranate tree flowers, the plants will make an attractive addition to your home garden.  They can be pruned as a single or multi-trunk tree, trained along a fence as an espalier, grown as a hedge, a bush or in a container. Whether you have a full grown pomegranate tree or dwarf pomegranate tree, they are beautiful in three out of four seasons! For success, choose a tree suited to your growing zone (hardiness zone) and with appropriate chill time.

Heeling In

When you receive your pomegranates they will be boxed securely. If you are not ready to plant or if the temperatures are too cold, immediately place them in a sheltered location, safe from frost. A root cellar, basement, or garage works well for a period of time. It’s important choose a place where the temperature stays between 38°F and 45°F. This is important so the roots neither freeze, nor does it get warm enough to break dormancy. It is essential that the young tree roots have plenty of time to become established before the tree begins its spring limb growth and bud break.

Preparing to Plant

Pomegranates are best grown from cuttings to ensure the quality of the fruit produced. There are many varieties of pomegranate trees to choose from, including the ever-popular Wonderful, yummy Sweet, and unique non-staining Eversweet. Select a location with full sun, and allow a 20 ft diameter space for your tree to grow into, unless you plan on keeping it smaller by pruning. If planting as a hedge, you can plant them as close as 10 feet apart.

Pomegranates are adaptable to many soil types, though they grow best in loamy soil with good drainage. The ideal climate is zone 7 to 12, with short, mild winters and low humidity. They may be grown in containers in colder places, and kept indoors or in a greenhouse over winter. If your tree’s trunk is damaged or killed by frost, it will typically grow new suckers that can be trained into a replacement trunk.

Ambrosia pomegranate

Planting

For outdoor planting, wait until all danger of frost has passed. The root structure must have adequate time to establish in order to deal with colder temperatures. Pick a sunny location since fruit production will be affected by compromised light. Soil should be well-drained and pH is not a determining factor. Locations affected by winds or that are consistently wet should be avoided. Do not amend the planting hole when planting pomegranates. If amendment is necessary try to do it before the tree is planted and only around the planting site, not in the hole.

If gophers are a problem in your area, a wire gopher basket should be placed in the hole. Gophers are less of a threat to mature trees, but this protection could mean the difference between life and death for a young tree. Two more factors must be considered before planting: wind and sun. If high winds will be a factor in your planting location, then the tree should be tilted slightly towards the wind’s prevailing direction.

Do not overdo it, a slight tilt will suffice. Dig a hole the same depth as the root system and two to three times as wide as the root system. Current research indicates that a saucer shaped hole with sides that slope gently upward, the same depth and three times the width of the root system stimulates the most root growth. Do not plant your trees too deeply, it is usually best to plant the tree to the same level it was planted in the nursery. Backfill with the soil then lightly compact the backfill with your hand, adjusting the tree gently so that the backfill reaches original planting depth. The back fill should slope gently up so the crown of the tree is slightly higher than the surrounding soil, this will help prevent crown rot.

Water the tree thoroughly and watch for settling. If undue settling occurs, elevate the tree very slightly to raise its height and release any subsoil air pockets. Pomegranates like to be mulched, mulch them well and make sure the mulch starts four to six inches away from the trunk of the tree and extends a couple of feet past the canopy.

Fertilization

It is not recommended that you fertilize your tree at the time of planting. There are some regional exceptions, contact your local Master Gardeners for advice. Once established, feed in February, May and September with a balanced amendment.

Viability

Pomegranates when dormant appear very dry and brittle. The trunk should be pliable and if lightly scratched will have a greenish tinge beneath the bark.

Harvest Time

Your pomegranates can begin to fruit within a year of planting. However, don’t be worried if the first few years’ fruits mature late, or drop before maturing. It will take 5 to 6 years for the tree to mature and produce large harvests. Fruits can be harvested as soon as they reach their mature skin color, feel heavy, and sound metallic when tapped. If left on the tree too long, they will split open; they may also split if it rains during harvest season. If this happens to your fruit, you can still harvest and enjoy it, but it cannot be stored whole. Fruit should be harvested with pruning snips, and not pulled from the branch. They can be stored whole in a cool place for several weeks, or in refrigeration for 3 months. For longer storage, you can de-seed and freeze the arils whole. You can also extract the juice by running the arils through a food strainer or a blender and straining out the seeds; the juice can be frozen for up to 6 months or made into a variety of canned foods such as syrup (also called grenadine), jelly, and more. For detailed growing information, watch our video, and for lots of great recipes, visit the Pomegranate Council’s website.

Ongoing Tree Care

Staking may be necessary but should be done carefully. A young tree that struggles a little against the wind, without being blown over, develops tissue in its trunk that will strengthen the tree as it matures. Tightly staked trees that do not develop this tissue are at greater risk of wind damage as they grow older. Staking should provide emergency assistance to a young tree, but should not interfere with its natural capacity to resist wind. To properly stake your tree, drive two sturdy poles deeply into the ground on opposite sides of the tree from each other. The two poles and the tree should demarcate a straight line directly into the prevailing wind. Using a plastic tie or cord attached securely to each pole, create a loose harness that will allow the tree sufficient movement in the wind at least a few inches in all directions. If rain is not timely, then occasional watering will be necessary.

Over-watering can kill young trees as moist, workable soil is sufficient; soggy soil is dangerous and often fatal. As the tree matures, you will want to water deeply but infrequently; commercial orchardists water for more than 12 hours at a time, but sometimes only two or three times during a season.

As your tree matures, pruning will become the most critical factor in its proper growth and development. Removal of dead wood or of suckers is necessary. If you do not desire a tree shape for your pomegranate let the suckers grow and the pomegranate will develop a bush shape. Spraying fruit trees during the dormant season is an important preventative to many diseases and pest problems. Traditionally fruit trees are sprayed three times a year: at leaf drop (Thanksgiving), during full dormancy (New Year’s) and at bud swell (Valentine’s Day).  Log on to GrowOrganic.com or check out our catalog for more information and a selection of natural and organic dormant sprays.

GrowOrganic.com has a number of pomegranate trees for sale.

43 comments

  • We have a small tree over 5 years old that produces perhaps 20 small 2.5 – 3" fruit per year. Could our climate have something to do with that? We are in the Caribbean, where the overnight temps never go below 68 (Jan/Feb only) and humidity is always rainforest high. Can I add something more than phosphorous to the soil? We have lots of pollinators.

    Maria Elena
  • Everytime I go out there, i am guess there’s always about 20 to 30 bees all over! I’m hoping that’s enough, they just seem to love the tree. I would prune it, but it’s like there are so any flowers ALL over every single shoot/branch it’s loaded with them :) and I know how great pruning can be because I had a DEAD grape bush, I pruned it really well and it’s growing like crazy! I can’t believe it’s alive! But I have a feeling I’m going to have a very full harvest of pomegranates from my tree.
    I think after we harvest, I will do some pruning because it is a very full tree. No on was taking care of it for a few years before we moved to our house. So I guess it just grew and grew.
    Thanks! You been a lot of help!

    Stacey
  • Stacy, you can prune your pomegranate to a single trunk or just let it grow as a bush. You may want to prune out the suckers growing at the base of the tree. The pomegranate will drop its flowers if they don’t get pollinated, so how is your pollinator population? The fruit will develop from the flower if it gets pollinated. The flower will fall off and you will see a small pomegranate develop.

    Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com
  • I just bought a place and there was pomegranate trees here already. One of them is about 7 to 8 ft tall, it doesn’t have a thick trunk just a ton of shoots. I mean it is a very full tree, looks like a huge bush. It has flowered, and I mean tons of flowers, lots of bees hang around my garden, and they are everywhere on my pomegranate tree so I’m in worries about pollenation. However, I am worried about the flowers, they are wilting bad and they look like they are all just gonna drop. But there are like 2 to 3 little bulbs all around the flowers. Are those pomegranates? Or will they also flower? How does the whole process work? Does a pomegranate grow from the flowers? I would love to see some pictures of the growth process, I can’t find any at all. I’m really wanting to have a harvest this season, but I have no clue what’s going on with the tree. If it’s healthy or of the withering flowers are a bad sign. I also just want to know where the actually pomegranates grow from, if they come from the inside of the flower or the little bulbs around the flowers

    Stacey
  • I have 2 pomegranate bushes I guess they should be called. About 3 -4 ft tall. These thing are any where from 10-20 years old and have never had any pruning or care done for them. I want to manage them to get a harvest from them but I’m not sure where to start.

    Angelica
  • Angelica, your pomegranates will benefit from a good pruning. I would suggest thinning out branches first then shaping the bushes. Might want to search the web for more detailed information on pruning pomegranates.

    Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com
  • Mir, pomegranates are deciduous, so they will drop their leaves in the fall/winter.

    Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com
  • Is Pomegranate a deciduous tree or shrub i.e. it sheds leaves in the fall?

    Mir Jehan Zeb
  • Rizwan, most of the time the reason that pomegranate flowers drop is because they did not get pollinated. Do you have a good population of pollinators? Usually they do not flower late in the season, so sounds like fluctuations in environmental conditions. I know from personal experience, my pomegranate produced at least 50 flowers this year and I only have about 6 fruit developing. But this was more than the previous year, so I would just be patient with your tree. Not sure what kind of fertilizer you are using, but you might consider one that is higher in phosphorus.

    Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com
  • Rizwan, most of the time the reason that pomegranate flowers drop is because they did not get pollinated. Do you have a good population of pollinators? Usually they do not flower late in the season, so sounds like fluctuations in environmental conditions. I know from personal experience, my pomegranate produced at least 50 flowers this year and I only have about 6 fruit developing. But this was more than the previous year, so I would just be patient with your tree. Not sure what kind of fertilizer you are using, but you might consider one that is higher in phosphorus.

    Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com

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