Pomegranates (Punica granatum) evolved in the rocky, sandy soils of the Middle East and thrive in climates with hot, dry long summers and cool winters, making them at home in large parts of Texas. Yellow to bright red pomegranates filled with juicy, flavorful seeds ripen six months after they blossom, from September through October, depending on the variety.
Most pomegranate cultivars grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11 and grow well in southern, southeastern and central Texas.
Angel Red (Punica granatum ‘Smith’) and ‘Wonderful’ (Punica granatum ‘Wonderful’), which grows in USDA zones 7 through 11, and Afganski (Punica granatum ‘Afghanski’), perennial in USDA zones 7 through 9, are among a scattering of cold-hardy cultivars that will grow as far north as the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Texas A&M University horticulturists are studying additional cold hardy varieties.
Sun and Soil
Pomegranates will grow in a variety of well-drained soils ranging from sandy soil to heavy clay with a pH range of 4.5 to 8.2, although it grows best in 5.5 to 7.2 pH. Pomegranates will grow in acidic soils in east Texas and the moderately alkaline soil of South Texas.
To yield good harvests of fruit, pomegranates need at least six hours of sunlight each day. They do not like summer humidity. Pomegranates grow to be 8 to 12 feet tall with spread of 7 to 8 feet. If you grow more than one tree, plant them east to west 12 to 14 feet apart. Space rows 17 to 18 feet apart. If you have poor soil, plant them even farther apart.
Water and Fertilizer
Water pomegranates enough during the spring through summer growing season to keep the soil moist but not wet. To water a newly planted sapling, build a ring of soil several inches thick and high around the trunk. Fill this ring with water. Refill it as it sinks in. In a few months, as the tree becomes established, the ring will settle into the soil.
Infrequent deep watering of an established tree is better than frequent shallow watering. Space watering from seven to 10 days. A constant level of moisture is best. Their modest watering requirement makes pomegranates attractive in El Paso and other areas of Texas with water problems.
Irrigate with furrows or a drip system, but not overhead sprinklers that will cause splitting fruit.
If you water pomegranates too heavily, the fruit will tend to split. Heavy rainfall in their early autumn ripening period will also make them split.
Once a newly planted sapling gets established, scatter 1 to 2 cups of ammonium sulfate, 21-0-0, evenly under the spread of a pomegranate canopy; apply spaced evenly three or four times during the growing season, at least once in February, May and September the first year after you plant a sapling. Double that application in February, May and September of the second year and triple it in the years that follow. Rake the fertilizer into the soil and water generously.
Pomegranates are free of most insect pests and diseases.