Pomegranate trees (Punica granatum) are enjoyed for their carnation-like flowers that bloom from mid-May to fall in a color range of red, orange, yellow or white, as well as their bright red fruits that ripen in August through October. Container grown pomegranates may be planted at any time during the year and bare-root trees are best planted in late winter to early spring. Once established, pomegranate trees are easy to grow and require little maintenance.
One of the most popular large pomegranate cultivars is ‘Wonderful’, which has bright red flowers and extra large red fruit and grows 8 to 12 feet in height. As with all pomegranate varieties, it is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 7 through 11 and thrives in Mediterranean-type climates. Pomegranates do well in low-water gardens but produce more fruit when given supplemental water during flowering and fruiting season. The ‘State Fair’ cultivar grows to 5 feet in height and has the same planting and growing requirements as taller varieties.
Time to Plant
Pomegranate trees are deciduous and sold as bare-root trees or container grown trees with a developed root system. The root system of a container-grown pomegranate tree establishes itself very well if planted in the fall to take advantage of dormant season root growth. The tree’s energy goes to developing a strong root system, which requires less water in the dry months of the year. A bare-root pomegranate tree planted in late winter to early spring grows leaves and branches the first year and generally fruits by the following fall.
Where to Plant
Pomegranate varieties such as ‘Flavescens’ with its yellow flowers and the dwarf ‘Nana’ thrive in a full sun area of the landscape but flower and fruit sporadically in partial shade. Average garden soil with good drainage is recommended. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the tree to increase moisture retention and provide nutrients to the soil. Irrigate the tree every two to four weeks when growth is being established. Supplement with water only during the flowering and fruiting season after the plant is established.
How to Plant
Dig the hole for a container-grown pomegranate no deeper than the height of the root-ball of the tree. The soil at the bottom of the hole should be undisturbed so the tree does not sink in deeper than needed. Dig the hole 2 to 3 inches wider than the container to allow roots to spread out. Prune any pot-bound roots that encircle the root-ball. Take the tree out of the container, place it in the hole and cover the root ball with garden soil. Tamp down gently and water thoroughly. For a bare-root tree, dig a hole 1 1/2 times as deep and wide as its root system. Build a firm mound of soil in the middle and spread the roots over it. Fill the hole in with garden soil and irrigate until completely moist. In both cases, ensure that the tree is no deeper in the soil than the point at which the roots meet the stem.
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