How to Grow Pomegranate Trees

Pomegranate Wonderful

Pomegranate Wonderful, a nice backyard variety for the Southland
Pomegranate Wonderful, a nice backyard variety for the Southland | Source

Pomegranate Trees

Whether grown shrubby or tall, the simple pomegranate tree is a rewarding fruit tree for the garden. It isn't fussy about soil, and will happily grow in heavy clay, fill soil of unknown type, or very alkaline soil. Once the tree is established, it requires little care and is fairly pest resistant. It is a perfect fruit tree for USDA growing zones 7-10. Some common backyard varieties include:

  • Wonderful Pomegranate - This quintessential inland California backyard pomegranate tree has tart-sweet fruit and excellent garden habits. It is particularly fond of alkaline soil and water and doesn't mind being ignored for much of the year. Fruit starts to set in early spring, continuing to late spring, and ripens in September to October.
  • Granada Pomegranate - A shorter season pomegranate, the Granada does better along the coast. The fruit looks much like the Wonderful variety, though is sweeter. Fruit sets in early spring and ripens in August to September.
  • Kashmir Pomegranate - This variety is best if you want to cook with the seeds (arils,) which are firmer in texture and with a more sour taste. The pomegranate flavor is quite distinctive in cooking.

All pomegranate trees need some hours of chill below 40 degrees Fahrenheit each winter. Wonderful will still produce with less than 150 hours, but expect a smaller crop in that case. Granada grown along the coast will produce with 150-200 hours of chill.


Pomegranate Information in a Nutshell

Variety
Winter Chill Hours Needed
Fruit Ripens
Best Growing Area
Fruit Quality
Wonderful
150
September-October
Inland, Zones 7-10
Sweet, Red, Large Fruit
Granada
150
August-September
Coastal, Zones 7-10
Sweet, Red, Medium Fruit
Sweet
150
August - September
Coastal Zones 8-10 (frost sensitive)
Sweet, Pink, Large Fruit
Sirenevyi
150-200
September - October
Inland, Zones 8-10
Very sweet, Purple, Large Fruit
Angel Red
150-200
August - September
Inland, Zones 7-10
Soft, Sweet, High juice content
Kashmir
150-200
September-October
Inland, Zones 7-10
Hard seeds, Tart, Red, Medium fruit, Small tree

Growing Pomegranates

If you've decided to grow a pomegranate tree, the best thing to do is to select a variety that does best in your zone. Since I live inland and in Southern California, I have had the best success with Wonderful. It truly lives up to its name, as it is planted in poor alkaline soil and gets watered with hard alkaline water, has lived for the past several years in the midst of one of the worst droughts in our state's history, and yet continues to bear a reasonable crop each year.

How to Select a Tree


Pomegranate trees typically are sold as bare-root trees, potted trees, or as rooted cuttings. The cuttings are taken from hardwood and can be of varying sizes, but usually you need to wait a few years before the cutting is large enough to bear fruit. I have had good luck with buying 3'-4' potted trees, which bear fruit as early as the next season. If you don't mind waiting, and want to save money, go with rooted cuttings.

How to Plant


Plant your pomegranate tree when it is dormant, in the winter months so that the roots have time to acclimate to your soil, when it is less stressful for the tree.

  • Choose a good location - The most important consideration for planting your pomegranate tree is location. Select the sunniest spot in your yard, someplace that gets sun most of the day and that is somewhat protected from wind.
  • Dig a hole - For a potted tree or rooted cutting, dig the planting hole large enough to accommodate the root ball. For a bare-root tree, dig the hole large enough so that the bare roots can fit without bending.
  • Plant the tree or rooted cutting - Set the tree or cutting so that the soil line hits at the same place as it did in the pot. If planting a bare-root tree, set the soil line about 2" above the roots or (if you can tell from looking at the tree) at its previous soil line. Back fill with the same soil that you took out of the hole.
  • Make a well and water - Build up the soil in a circle around the tree, estimating a ring about 36" in diameter. Water in well. Check over the next few days to make sure that the soil from the pot has not popped up above the garden soil, which can dry out the root ball. You want the soil from the pot to remain covered with your garden soil, but also take care not to bury the roots too deeply.

How to Care for Pomegranate Trees

Starting in February and continuing every other month through July, fertilize with a general purpose timed release fertilizer like Miracle Gro Shake 'n Feed Continuous Release All Purpose Plant Food. I've also had very good luck with Scotts Citrus, Avocado and Mango fertilizer. Pomegranates don't seem to be too picky about fertilizer, as long as they get some right at the start of the growing season.

For new trees, water weekly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. After the tree is established, they are fairly drought tolerant, though for best fruit production, it pays to water regularly.

Be careful not to over water as fruit is ripening, from September to October for Wonderful pomegranates. Wonderful will experience a huge surge in fruit size in the last few weeks of ripening, and over watering the trees will cause the fruit to split.


Planting a Pomegranate Tree

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