Growing Pomegranates:
Organically Growing Pomegranate Plant at Home

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.

Growing Pomegranates (Punica granatum L.): Plant Snapshot

Growing Pomegranates
  • Recommended Varieties:
    • Ambrosia (large fruit)
    • Eversweet (excellent for coastal areas)
    • Granada (early maturing)
    • Ruby Red (late maturing)
    • Utah Sweet (very sweet)
    • Wonderful (late maturing)
  • Group with crops from: n/a (perennial)
  • Low winter temperatures that damage fruit plants: 12 F (-11 C) and below
  • Time until plant bears fruit after planting: 2 to 3 years after planting a bare root two year old tree
  • Approximate yield per plant: 22 to 66 lbs (10 to 30 kg) per tree
  • Life of plant: A very long living plant – up to 200 years

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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Planting Pomegranates

Where to Find Planting Supplies...

The following resources offer effective, healthy and/or well-rounded options. Click the links to go there now...

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.

Snapshot: Planting the Pomegranate Plant

  • Easiest to grow from: two year old bare root plant
  • Planting timeframe range (varies by climate): Early spring, avoiding frosts
  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 5.5 to 7.2
  • Spacing in rows: 15-18 ft (5-6m) for trees or 6-9 ft (2-3 m) for bushes
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Care For and Pruning Pomegranates

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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.

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Growing Pomegranates: Harvesting Time

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.

Snapshot: Harvesting Pomegranates

  • Time to harvest: from Mid summer to late fall
  • Yield per plant/tree: 22 to 66 lbs (10 to 30 kg) per tree
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Storing Pomegranate Plants, Separating Seeds and Making Pomegranate Juice

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:

  1. Cut the pomegranates in half and use the back of a wooden spoon to tap the shell firmly to dislodge the seeds.
  2. Fill a bowl with cold water, place each half under the water and scrape the juice-covered seeds out of the outer skin.
  3. Seeds sink to the bottom of the bowls whilst any peel or pith will float.
  4. Separate the seeds by pouring into a colander.

To make pomegranate juice from the seeds, you can either use a food processor (easiest) or a mechanical juice press.

  • If using a food processor, add one and a half cups of seeds at a time. Blend until it is a pulp, then strain through a sieve to separate seeds from juice.
  • If using a mechanical juice press, push pomegranate halves through. Be careful to not push rind in too as this will make the juice taste bitter.

Snapshot: Storing Pomegranates

  • Storage temperature: Freeze at 32 F (0 C)
  • Storage life (refrigerator): 5 days
  • Storage life (frozen): up to one year
  • Storage humidity: 80 to 85%
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Growing Pomegranates: Pests & Diseases

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.

Pests

  • Mealybugs
  • Soft scales
  • Whiteflies

Common Diseases

  • Armillaria Root rot
  • Bortrytis blight
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