Pomegranate trees are a good option for those low-maintenance gardeners. The trees are most often hardy as well as resistant to pests and diseases. Pomegranate trees can survive in cooler climates where they are deciduous or in warmer climates where they act as evergreens.
So far, raising a pomegranate tree seems to be a pretty sweet deal, not to mention beautiful. If you are looking to add variety and interest to your garden or orchard, or if you just have a desire to learn more, let’s look into the steps on how to grow a pomegranate tree.
Choose the Best Time and Season for Planting Pomegranate Trees
The best time to plant your pomegranate tree outside is after the last frost. Usually, this is around March or April. This is especially important for those trees that are very young. If your pomegranate tree goes through a surprise frost, the cold may stunt its growth or make it at risk for pests and disease.
Find an Optimum Location for Planting Pomegranate Trees
As a general rule, pomegranate trees like the weather to be hot and dry. The best zones for this type of fruit tree fall under zones four through ten in the United States.
Find the spot in your yard where the tree will receive the most sun and warmth. Partial shade is okay as long as there are at least six hours of full sunlight. Also, if you’re planting more than one tree and want to produce fruit, make sure they are about 15-20 feet apart.
Prepare the Soil for Planting Pomegranate Trees
The soil around the tree needs to be loose before you plant it. If necessary, take a shovel or tiller and loosen up the soil so the tree roots can lengthen and grow. The good news is that pomegranate trees can thrive in almost any type of soil, from poor alkaline soil to acid loam, though the latter is preferred. As long as there is good drainage, the tree will be happy.
Plant Your Pomegranate Tree
Dig a hole in your ideal location. Make sure the hole is just as deep as the tree’s pot and about twice as wide. Cover the roots with soil and secure the tree to a stake if you feel it is necessary. Water the tree well in the first couple of months.
But beware of overwatering and causing fungus to grow. If the ground around the tree is flooded, try your best to drain it. Trees are fairly resistant to drought, but before the roots are grounded, your pomegranate tree can use a little extra help.
Provide Proper Care for Your Pomegranate Tree
In the first year, periodically aerate the tree around the base by loosening the soil a bit. This is especially helpful while you’re keeping the tree hydrated early on. For the first two years, fertilize the tree in March and November. This can be your own compost or organic fertilizer. Once the tree begins to bear fruit, you can cut back to fertilizing once a year, just before winter.
Pomegranate trees start producing fruit after about two or three years in the months of August to November. Look for the red color and a matte rather than a glossy outer layer. The shape changes from round to hexagonal and sounds metallic when tapped. Use a pruning shear to cut the stem instead of pulling the fruit off. Store the fruit at 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit if you plan to not eat them right away. They will last 1-3 weeks on the countertop.
The best time to prune is early in the spring, right before they bloom again. While the tree is young, you can start pruning near its base if you want it to be tall. If you want it to be more shrub-like, you can leave those little shoots that grow at the bottom. It is always a good idea to cut off any dead or damaged branches about once a year.
Common Pests and Diseases
Pomegranate trees are particularly hardy and not very prone to pests and diseases. Make sure the tree isn’t overwatered to prevent fruit spots and soft rot. Mealy bugs and pomegranate butterflies often take advantage of unpruned trees, among other pests. If you need to fight them off, use organic fungicide or insecticide weekly on your tree.
Can I Grow a Pomegranate Tree in a Pot?
The answer is yes. For those colder climates, this might be a better option since you can move the tree around to find warmth and sunlight, or you can even bring it indoors to protect the tree from the elements. If this is the case, make sure the tree is still receiving plenty of water, fertilizer, and sunlight.
The pomegranate fruit is very versatile in cooking and used in salads, smoothies, and teas. To find success in growing a pomegranate tree, first find a good location with sun and drainage. Take good care of young trees with proper watering, fertilizing, and pruning. Then, in a few years, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.