Growing pomegranates at home originated in ancient India and Persia, but the pomegranate plant is also native to the entire Mediterranean region where their preferred semi-arid to subtropical climate range exists.
Pomegranates have been used as natural remedies since ancient times, plus their edible seeds and delicious juice are great sources of vitamin C.
Before you continue reading below, check out the following overview pages if you haven't done so already. They contain important general instructions that apply to most types of fruit trees...
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Your climate is the most significant factor if you’re hoping to grow pomegranates. Although most can withstand temperatures as low as 12 F (-11 C), they are very susceptible to damage during fall and spring when the plant is not fully dormant. They also need at least 120 days per year above 85 F (29 C).
Assuming your local temperatures meet these requirements, you’ll need to choose a sunny spot to plant your pomegranate tree which will need at least six hours of sunlight a day. Good soil drainage is also important. Preparing a raised garden bed that is 4 feet (120 cm) wide with a depth of 1 foot (12 cm) is the best way to ensure this.
Pomegranate plants can be grown as trees or planted to form a bush. More space is needed for trees (15-18 ft / 5-6 m) than bushes (6-9 ft / 2-3 m).
Pomegranates usually grow on their own rootstock, making them less susceptible to disease than trees on grafted rootstock. But since they are susceptible to damage during cold weather, plant your young trees in early spring. The soil should have been dug in advance and not be waterlogged.
Dig a hole as deep as the roots of the plant, place in the ground and firm the soil.
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It’s important to prune methodically during the first three years after planting your bare root pomegranate tree. Once it has grown to 2 feet (60cm), cut the tree back to four or five main shoots. Choose shoots that start from about 1 foot (30cm) above the ground so that your bush or tree develops a defined trunk. Fruit will develop on new growth at the tips of branches.
For the first three years, you need to shorten branches once a year when the plant is dormant. This will encourage new, bushy growth with potential for lots of fruit. After three years of completing this task you will only need to remove any diseased or dead branches or sucker branches that grow up from the ground.
Pomegranates will benefit from an annual mulch using well rotted organic manure or garden compost. Spread this evenly around the area under the plant in the spring when growth is just beginning.
Pomegranate bushes and trees can withstand a drought, but for the best fruit production it’s important to keep plants irrigated. Make sure mature plants are well watered at least once a month. Young plants should be well watered once every two weeks as they establish themselves.
You’ll know when your pomegranates are ready to be picked by the metallic sound they make when they’re tapped. Don’t let them over-ripen as this causes the fruit to split. Fruit will not all ripen at the same time, and pomegranates may continue to develop from August through to November on the same plant.
Clip ripe pomegranates using sharp, clean shears or secateurs. Cut close to the fruit, and be careful not to damage the skin as this protects the juice sacs inside.
Pomegranates have a potentially long storage life of up to seven months if they’re kept in the right conditions. Ideally they should be kept at a cool temperature of 32 to 41 F (0 to 5 C). If you have a cool storage space, spread the fruit out on a shelf or table so fruit is not touching.
You can keep pomegranate juice or seeds removed from the outer skin in a refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze seeds or juice in vapor-proof freezer bags or other containers for up to one year.
When removing the seeds from the outer skin, be sure to use plastic or glass utensils as contact with metals will affect the color of the juice:
To make pomegranate juice from the seeds, you can either use a food processor (easiest) or a mechanical juice press.
Good air circulation and removal of dead and decaying branches – each of which can be accomplished by pruning - will help keep your pomegranate bush or tree healthy.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing the pomegranate plant. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.
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