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Growing Pomegranates Naturally

 
gardener
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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I wanted to make this thread to help me keep track of and document my pomegranates.

Hopefully it can be helpful to others also!
 
Steve Thorn
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This pomegranate tree was planted last Fall and has been doing well despite getting chewed down to the ground by rabbits during the winter.

It was in a really wet spot, and pomegranates along with most fruit trees, like well draining soil. I decided to keep them in their existing spot and mound up the soil around them to create a drier area for them to grow.

I dug around the pomegranate and broke up the soil with a shovel and then piled it up against the tree to make a mound around it with the tree at the center. Depending on the degree of moisture in your soil, you can make the trench deeper and mound higher to make it drain even better. This pomegranate was in a pretty moist spot so I made it pretty high. I probably could have made it even higher but didn't want to spend too long building it.

I usually like to cover the mound with a shredded or whole leaf mulch, which creates a layer of rich organic matter to help build soil fertility. With it being summer, I didn't have a lot of leaves available at the moment, so I cut down some wild bushes and chopped up the cuttings and used them as a mulch.

You can also use this to convert a grafted fruit tree into an own root fruit tree. Pomegranates usually are grown on their own roots, since they propagate easily from cuttings, so I didn't have to do it for this tree. I have an apple tree that I did this for, and I wounded it right above the graft so it should send out new roots from the fruiting variety and become an own root fruit tree.

I built this soil mound about a month ago, and I planted some squash a week later on the mound to both help hold the soil in place and to use the available growing area.

Here's a video of before and after with general information on the process.

 
Steve Thorn
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Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
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This pomegranate has really been thriving and enjoying the raised mound it's now growing on!

It's only been one month since creating the mound, and it has almost doubled in size and put on a whole lot of new growth, and the leaves look really healthy!

The squash plants on the mound are only 3 weeks old, and they are taking off too and really enjoying the spot!

 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
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Here's an update for the pomegranate growing on a mound. It has really taken off with lots of side shoots growing and a new main shoot that is growing vigorously and has lots of side shoots coming off from it.

A lot of people say to prune off these new shoots, some call them watersprouts, but I like leaving them, as they are a source of new and very vigorous growth, that will form the new framework for the plant next year!
Close-up-of-new-vigorous-pomegranate-growth-(watersprout).jpg
Close up of new vigorous pomegranate growth (watersprout)
Close up of new vigorous pomegranate growth (watersprout)
Happy-pomegranate-growing-on-a-mound.jpg
Happy pomegranate growing on a mound
Happy pomegranate growing on a mound
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
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This is a video update similar to the pictures above with a more in depth look at the existing growth and the new vigorous shoot.

 
pollinator
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Do pomegranates need to be kept to one main stem to grow tall? My Azerbaijan pomegranate has stayed like a small bush but I want it to grow into a proper sized tree.
 
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Tim Kivi wrote:Do pomegranates need to be kept to one main stem to grow tall? My Azerbaijan pomegranate has stayed like a small bush but I want it to grow into a proper sized tree.



How tall we talking?

The one producing pomegranate in my town is a bush, with many equal stems. It is something like 12 to 14 feet tall.
 
Tim Kivi
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My gardening store writes that it grows up to 6 metres (about 20 feet). But it's hard to imagine from looking at it grow!
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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Tim Kivi wrote:Do pomegranates need to be kept to one main stem to grow tall? My Azerbaijan pomegranate has stayed like a small bush but I want it to grow into a proper sized tree.



Having more than one main stem shouldn't affect the height. With more stems, it just may take longer to reach that height though, but it should have a larger total canopy size and fruit production area with multiple stems.

From what I've seen, pomegranates seem to want to grow like a bush. I wanted one I had a few years ago to grow like a tree at first. I pruned off all the lower branches, and I think it may have had a negative impact on the cold hardiness and health of the pomegranate. It had a lot higher dieback during the winter after the pruning and didn't grow back very quickly. I'm near the northern end of the range of pomegranates though, so it might not have as many negative effects for someone in a warmer climate. From what I've seen recently though, plants seem to be more healthy and productive when grown closest to their natural growing form, so I try to mimic that as closely as possible.

 
Steve Thorn
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Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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This pomegranate died back to its roots this winter, but this year it has almost doubled in size already so far, with a lot more time left in the growing season.

The second photo is a closeup of the top of the pomegranate, which is putting out two new shoots at almost every node and looking super healthy!
Pomegranate-regrowing-after-dying-back-to-the-roots.jpg
Pomegranate regrowing after dying back to the roots
Pomegranate regrowing after dying back to the roots
Lots-of-healthy-new-shoots-.jpg
Lots of healthy new shoots!
Lots of healthy new shoots!
 
Steve Thorn
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Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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This is another one that wasn't getting as much sun as the one above. I chopped and dropped the plants shading it out, so hopefully it will really thrive now that it has full sun.
Another-pomegranate-regrowing-after-dying-back-to-the-roots.jpg
Another pomegranate regrowing after dying back to the roots
Another pomegranate regrowing after dying back to the roots
 
gardener
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Tim Kivi wrote:Do pomegranates need to be kept to one main stem to grow tall?



I've trained my pomegranate to have a single trunk.  It took some dedication, but now it's a lot easier to work with  -- pruning, thinning, harvesting, etc.

Because these trees sucker so heavily from the base, you need to cut off all that growth that comes up from the roots at the base of the tree and clean it up at least 3 times a year.  If you don't cut those back, you will very quickly find that you've got a multi-stem bush that will not be very productive.

You may find (as I did) that the trunk cannot support the weight of the upper tree so it will tend to lean over to one side.  My tree has been a constant challenge to keep vertical, but after 10 years or so, the trunk is now thick enough that it doesn't lean over any more.  I used ropes and steel T-posts to yank it back to vertical every time it started to lean.  I also remove about 60 or 70% of the branches from the tree scaffolding every winter and shorten the height of the tree so there isn't as much leverage on the lower trunk.  Then in the spring I aggressively thin the fruit so that it doesn't weigh-down the branches too much.  Yes, in the short term you'll sacrifice some fruit, but in the long term, you'll have a nice straight upright tree that will be able to give you a ton more fruit than a knot of spindly trunks from an unkempt multi-trunk tree.

I'm glad that I put in that much work because the tree is beautiful and super productive.  With a single trunk, its easy to control for ants with a trunk wrap and a bit of sticky tangle-foot.  

Best of luck.
 
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Our pomegranate tree is surrounded by four pallets wired together at the corners. I thought the pallet enclosure was for protection against deer and goats but we have rabbits that get hungry enough to eat cactus and I have not noticed the rabbits bothering the pomegranate tree at all.
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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A lot of the pomegranates are growing quickly, and are putting on lots of healthy new growth!
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Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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The pomegranages have been enjoying the hotter and drier weather this summer.
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Posts: 3
Location: Zone 8b, Central Calif, Sierra Foothills
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Our largest pomegranate tree (multi-trunk) grows vigorously and is over 10 ft. tall. It's one of several pomegranates in the same area.  It's a beautiful, healthy tree.  Each spring it puts on hundreds of red flowers.  But unfortunately, only a few of those flowers are female, which then turn into fruit.  Almost all its flowers are male (its easy to tell them apart).  And since only female flowers turn into fruit, this large healthy pomegranate tree produces only a few pieces of fruit each year.  I don't understand why it flowers in this way -- seems to be the same each year.  Any ideas?
 
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My first try produced 2 pomegranate fruit once it got big enough. The next year something ate the flowers? At least they were there and then they weren't and I could see nothing on the ground. I assumed deer but no actual clue. I left the "dead" branches rather than pruning them in hopes that would discourage whatever ate the flowers. I've been told the fruit grows on new wood. The next year no flowers or fruit and it died back to "dead" that winter. The next spring a new crop of branches have grown up from the roots but no flowers. Your comments lead me to wonder about the viability of these "suckers" but as they are from the natural root why wouldn't they be just as good at the original plant?  The bush looks healthy, just no fruit.  I planted a second one a few feet away and it is now about 3 1/2 feet tall but again no flowers in it's 3rd year. Is it ok to let them become bushes rather than pruning and trying to keep them upright against our fierce winds? I would appreciate any suggestions or comments.

They are on the east side of the house but there are no obstructing plants or trees. Our prevailing wind is from the west on this high plains open landscape (zone 7 southern NM) with winter blows from the north not uncommon. I keep the area mulched with straw and the chop-n-drop weeds. It is next to where I park my pickup during the day if that would have any effect? I water during longer dry spells, again being told they are desert plants and don't like to be kept too wet.
 
Marco Banks
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pete eakle wrote:Our largest pomegranate tree (multi-trunk) grows vigorously and is over 10 ft. tall. It's one of several pomegranates in the same area.  It's a beautiful, healthy tree.  Each spring it puts on hundreds of red flowers.  But unfortunately, only a few of those flowers are female, which then turn into fruit.  Almost all its flowers are male (its easy to tell them apart).  And since only female flowers turn into fruit, this large healthy pomegranate tree produces only a few pieces of fruit each year.  I don't understand why it flowers in this way -- seems to be the same each year.  Any ideas?



I've never seen this before.  Everything that flowers on my tree turns into fruit (which means that I have to AGGRESSIVELY thin every spring).  What variety is your tree?  The most common pom tree in California is Wonderful -- that's what I've got.

I'd love to see a picture of the non-bearing flowers.  
 
pete eakle
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Linda, your comment that "fruit grows on new wood" is interesting.  If true, I believe it would also mean "female flowers grow on new wood" and maybe "male flowers grow on old wood".  I'll look over my tree tomorrow with this in mind. The flowers are long gone, of course, but the female flowers are kinda still there, now in the form of fruit.
 
pete eakle
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Marco, I am also growing the Wonderful variety.  The male and female flowers both have the same red petals and look the same, but they differ at the base of the flower where they attach to the stem.  The female flower bulges in that area and that "bulge" will grow & become the fruit.  The male flower has a more consistent funnel shape and no bulge; once its petals fall off, no fruit.  I'll attach a picture (found on internet).
 
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When I lived in Bakersfield, CA, I had two work buddies who each had several pomegranates in their yards. I held an annual jelly party and they would bring boxes of their pomegranates, and any interested others would bring their labor.

One guy pruned his religiously and had 5 of 6 nice trees. The branches eww sturdy enough to prop a ladder against. His fruit was really big.
The other guy left his plants bushy. His fruit was a lot smaller.

Both ended up with lots and lots of fruit.
That’s the extent of what I know.  

Oh yeah — a year or to before moving to a gentler place I planted a pomegranate (1 gal size from a nursery). The next summer I already had 3 poms.

I’m thinking they like their summers dry..
 
Steve Thorn
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Linda Ford wrote:Your comments lead me to wonder about the viability of these "suckers" but as they are from the natural root why wouldn't they be just as good at the original plant?  The bush looks healthy, just no fruit.  I planted a second one a few feet away and it is now about 3 1/2 feet tall but again no flowers in it's 3rd year. Is it ok to let them become bushes rather than pruning and trying to keep them upright against our fierce winds? I would appreciate any suggestions or comments.



The suckers seem to often be very vigorous and healthy growing areas, and since pomegranates seem to want to grow like a bush, I think it's a super healthy and natural way to grow them. Mine have also grown a lot better here as a bush.
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