Pomegranates are easy deciduous fruit tree to grow, they love our hot summers and are drought tolerant making them perfect for our climate. Pomegranates are shrubby, multi branching tree, that put out showy, decorative flowers and a juicy fruit. Their fruit, even though a bit fiddly to prepare, are full of antioxidants and health benefits. They also look great in salads and on platters.
We have chosen to grow the wonderful variety pomegranate, due to its low chill hours, self-fertile and they seeds are less woody which means its easier to eat. Our son loves to eat the pomegranate seeds and calls them lollies.
Where to Plant Pomegranates
Pomegranates are best grown in full sun, getting at least 6 hours of full sun a day and do well planted in the ground or in a pot. Pomegranates do best in climates with cool winters and hot dry summers.
When to Plant a Pomegranate
Pomegranates are a deciduous fruit tree which means over winter they become dormant, so the best time to plant them is just before they come out of dormancy, which is the end of winter beginning of spring, so for us in the southern hemisphere, the end of August to the beginning of September is the perfect time to plant them.
How to Plant a Pomegranate
We live on very sandy soil, so we prepare the ground by digging a hole twice to three times as big as the pot. Into the hole we add 1 part kaolin clay, 2 parts homemade compost, 2 parts cow and sheep manure, slow-release organic fertiliser and then we mix this into the sandy soil. We then plant our pomegranate in the middle, giving it a good soaking of water before covering the area with mulch and watering again.
If planting a pomegranate into a pot or clay soil you need to remember pomegranates like free draining soil, so you need to make sure it doesn’t hold water. I would also skip the step above about adding more clay when planting it.
Remember that when planting a pomegranate, it’s a shrubby tree that will be there for a long time, so spend the time to do it right.
How Big do Pomegranates Trees Get?
Pomegranates can grow to 6 metres tall and 6 metres wide, however if kept pruned and maintained they can be kept to whatever height you like. Ours is about 2.5 meters tall.
How to Prune your Pomegranates
There are two ways to grow your pomegranates which is a single trunk or multi trunk. The single trunk grows a tree and multi trunk grows you a bush. With a single trunk you will have less fruit, but the fruit are more accessible, it looks more aesthetic, and you can also grow underneath its structure which will provide shade in the summer. We have self-seeded lettuce under ours. We have chosen the single trunk method.
Growing your pomegranate as a multi trunk is recommended for people living in areas which freeze. Grow between 3-6 trunks and prune out the rest.
When pruning your pomegranates something to consider is pomegranates fruit on wood which is two years old so be careful with your pruning. When pruning you only want to remove wood which has fruited on, dead or diseased wood, anything that’s crossing and to maintain height and structure.
There are two times of the year you can prune your pomegranates, which is winter and summer. Pruning in summer encourages new growth and can help you grow your plant into a larger plant and pruning in winter gives you a better overview of the plant as its lost is leaves and encourages fruiting. If your pomegranate has a branch hanging out or gotten too tall, this can be pruned at any time.
How to Care for Your Pomegranates
Pomegranates once established are very easy to grow and you can keep them growing well and producing fruit like we do with these simple steps. As the pomegranate tree comes out of dormancy and starts having shoots in Spring, we fertilise the tree with an organic slow release fertilser with trace element, add layer of compost, manure and then top it off with a good layer of mulch. Then depending on what brand of fertiliser apply it at the intervals that it recommends, ours is every 3 months. So, we add our first dose of fertilser in September, then December and again just before it goes into dormancy in March giving it all the energy it needs for when I comes out of dormancy in Spring.
Once the flowers have been pollinated and you fruit are set you will also need to net your tree to protect it from birds. You can either net each fruit with a bag or net the whole tree which is what we do.
How to Pick Your Pomegranates
When you’re looking to pick your pomegranates, here are some tips:
- A ripe pomegranate is not round, they tend to have more of hexagonal shape to them.
- Pomegranates should be a dark red colour when picked however the colour can deteriorate after they have ripened.
- The fruit should feel heavy.
- Trap the fruit with your finger, if it sounds hollow its not ready it should sound dense like hitting a bottle of drink full of water.
Common Problems with Growing Pomegranates
So far, we have not had any issues with growing our pomegranates, but here is a list of common pests and disease on pomegranates and how to control them.
These are a small sap sucking insects which you will generally find on new tender shoots and undersides of leaves. To control aphids, you can squish them with your fingers, wash them off with a hose or spray with a potassium soap spray or horticultural oil.
There are a few types of scale from hard bodied, soft scale and fluffy scale. Most times you will find them on new growth. To control scale, you can squish them with your finger, wash them off with a hose or spray with a potassium soap spray or horticultural oil.
There is various type of fruit fly that can affect your pomegranate, here in Perth, Western Australia we only affected by the Mediterranean fruit fly which tends to strike on cracked fruit. If you where to find this as an issue we recommend in netting the fruit or the tree.