Pomegranates or Punica granatum are really delicious fruits, so you’ll certainly be pleased to know that you can grow them in your garden too. They are easy to be grown because unlike other fruit trees, pomegranates have shallow root system and can be easily grown in a container.
Pomegranate tree is also known as Granada, Roma, Shi Liu Pi, Melagrana, Melograno, Grenade, Punic apple, Punica granatum, Granatapfel, Dadima, Anardana, Shi Liu Gen Pi, Fruit du, Anar and Pomme Grenade.
Conditions for Cultivating Pomegranates
Pomegranates are natives to Middle East (Iran) and South Asia. Pomegranate tree can live up to 200 years if grown in optimal conditions. It’s a shrub or small tree that can reach heights up to 6 m (20 ft) but it’s usually reduced to 2 m.
Pomegranate trees need neutral pH level of the soil and they are easy to be grown. They will thrive best in USDA Hardiness Zone 9b-11. Below Zone 9, pomegranates can be grown in containers.
Appearance of a Pomegranate Tree
Pomegranate tree has five to eight centimeters long lance shaped leaves which are shiny and bronze from the bud but later they turn green.
Its flowers are fragile, bell-shaped and bright red. The flowers can reach up to 3 centimeters width. Decorative varieties of pomegranate trees can have pink, cream or white flowers.
Aside from this decorative appearance the most attractive thing about pomegranates are its fruits. Pomegranate fruits have a yellow-brown to reddish brown shell and the size of an apple. Inside, there’s the juicy red pulp which surrounds the countless delicious seeds.
Dwarf Pomegranate Varieties
- “Nana”– This is the most famous pomegranate tree among dwarf varieties. This variety grows in USDA Zones 7 to 11 and it’s a really prosperous and thriving tree. If you plant this variety in a container it will grow up to only 1m in height and provide orange to garnet flowers that produce small fruits with viable seeds.
- “Provence” –If you are looking for a more resistant pomegranate variety than the province is the right choice. It can survive on temperature down to 5 F (-15 C), so it can thrive in cold climate.
- “State fair” – This variety will thrive just fine in a container. It can reach up to 1.5m height and it can be grown in USDA Zones 7 to 11.
- “Flore Pleno” – The name itself means “double flower” and in summer this variety produces countless beautiful orange-red flowers, and no fruits.
- Punica granatum “Madame Legrelle” – This ornamental variety of pomegranate tree can have its pride in the dense double flowers that come in shiny orange to salmon colour with white border.
Proliferation and Growing Pomegranates in Containers
The best time for proliferation is from spring to summer when the temperature remains in range of 68 F (20 C). Pomegranate trees can be propagated either by cuttings or by seeds. In order to avoid waiting very long time to get the fruits you can buy a 2-3 years old plant from nursery or online.
Propagation by Seeds
In this case you’ll need to buy as ripe pomegranates as possible. Remove the seeds from the pulp and clean them well by rubbing with paper towel. Let the seeds dry for a few days before sowing.
Plant the seeds in light seed-starting mix. Be careful not to plant them more than ¼ inches deep. Find a bright location for the pots and place them there. For example, in a plastic bag or green-house which can maintain temperature around 68F (20 C). Water the soil regularly.
Depending on the variety and climate you should expect for the seeds to germinate within a period of 1-6 weeks.
Propagation by Cuttings
You’ll need a few 8-10 long cuttings. Place the cutting in a well drained potting mix. The cuttings will root quickly and easily at temperatures of 20 C and high humidity.
Note: For those of you who live in places with tropical climate, you can grow pomegranates really easy in any season that you like, except peak summer. Read further to find out what you’ll need to plant and grow pomegranates.
Choosing the Right Pot
You should adapt the pot to the size of the tree. Replace the pot for a bigger one as the tree grows. Be careful to have enough number of holes at the bottom of the pot in order to maintain perfect drainage.
Requirements for Growing Pomegranates in Pots
If you’ve ever grown citrus in a pot than growing pomegranates in a pot should not be a difficult task for you at all. You’ll need to water and fertilize the plant regularly and protect it from froze. Later you’ll be satisfied with juicy, iron rich, fresh and healthy fruits.
The best location for your pomegranate tree is a sunny place which will help the tree to thrive and produce plenty of fruits. A pomegranate tree will thrive in a less sunny place too but it will bloom and fruit less. You can cultivate pomegranate tree near a windowsill if there’s enough sunlight.
Pomegranate trees need absorptive, prolific and rich in organic contents soil in order to thrive.
While the tree is growing it should be watered regularly and deeply and the soil needs to be kept moist but not too wet.
During the winter the watering should be reduced.
How to Take Care of a Pomegranate Tree
While the pomegranate tree is growing it should be fertilized every two weeks using half strength liquid 8-8-8 fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you decide to grow pomegranate in a pot you have to have in mind that very often it can become zinc deficient. This condition is shown with yellowing leaves. To solve this problem you need to spray diluted zinc solution on the foliage.
To help the tree thrive you can also add compost or manure. But you must be careful not to exaggerate with fertilization because you can cause the tree to produce lots of foliage and less flowers.
Pomegranate tree loves sun and most of its species are sensitive to frost. However, the plant has developed its own protective mechanism to survive low temperatures.
During the freezing period the tree sheds its leaves and becomes dormant. Only a few species will survive really low temperatures even under -10 C, with no damage.
If you are growing a pomegranate tree in a pot and in cold climate below USDA Zone 9 you need to prune it in the fall. During the winter keep your plant in a garage or basement on temperature not lower than 37 F (3 C). But know that the optimum low temperature for most of the pomegranate varieties is 45 F (7 C).
The best temperature for keeping your pomegranate tree indoors is around 55F (15 C). If it takes at least 4 hours of sunlight it won’t shed its leaves and go dormant. When the tree is in the period of dormancy it needs less fertilizer and less water, but it shouldn’t be dried out completely.
In spring, place the plant to a warm and bright place and allow it to adjust to the climate. A window oriented to South will do the trick. As soon as the plant shows the first sign of growing and forms a few fully developed leaves, you can again start to fertilize it and give it more water. When the temperature reaches 45 F (7 C) you can take the tree outside.
In order to maintain the desired shape of the tree and encourage it to flower and fruit, you need to prune it regularly. The best time for pruning your pomegranate tree is when the winter passes, right before the tree starts to grow.
Remove dead and weak branches so the tree’s energy is directed to the right part and shorten long branches to encourage flowering.
Repot your tree when it overgrows its pot. The best time for repotting the tree is when there are no flowers or fruits on the plant especially in the beginning of the growing season.
Diseases, Pests and Other Problems
When it comes to pests and diseases pomegranate trees are pretty resistant plants. They are mostly attacked by fruit flies, whiteflies and pomegranate butterflies.
One common problem that happens to every variety of pomegranates is fruit crack. This problem happens because of fluctuation or lack of moisture in substrate at the time of fruiting.
If you decide to cultivate pomegranate tree from seeds, expect fruits to form in the third year.
The fruit will ripen in three to six months after the appearance of flowers.
When the crust of the fruit gets an intense red colour, the pomegranates are ready to be harvested. Simply cut the fruit’s stem using sharp pruning shear of knife.