Pomegranate, scientific name Punica granatum, belongs to the fruit-bearing deciduous variety of shrubs and dwarf trees. The plant bears a berry type fruit in which a thick aril encloses about 600 red seeds. Pomegranate nutrition is widely studied both for therapeutic benefits and culinary usage. Clinical trials have shown that juice of pomegranate reduces the risk of developing heart diseases and cancer and is effective for lowering blood pressure and preventing infection.
Though pomegranate fruits are available in the market, they are quite pricey. Hence, you can choose to plant them in your garden. Growing a pomegranate tree is relatively easy, provided that you select a variety suited to your region and understand the plant requirements. Here, we shall discuss the basic pomegranate tree caring tips and favorable environmental conditions for its plantation. With correct care guidelines, you can surely enjoy the taste of freshly harvested pomegranate fruits.
Pomegranates are listed under best landscaping trees for areas with dry and hot climatic conditions. Many gardening enthusiasts prefer to maintain a pomegranate garden, not only for the nutritious fruits it bears, but also for the spectacular, bright red pomegranate tree flowers. There are also fruitless varieties that are planted just for the sake of the beautiful blooms. Irrespective of the purpose of growing this fruiting tree, selecting a hardy cultivar is suggested.
Choose the Variety
There are several types of pomegranates, of which you can finalize some according to your plan. As per your taste, you can inquire about the fruit flavor of the cultivar before buying it from the pomegranate tree nursery. Purchase only healthy stem cuttings (about 20 inch) that have a green foliage, without any signs of disease.
Prepare the Soil
A pomegranate tree adapts in both acidic and alkaline soil, hence soil preparation for your fruit planting project is not an issue. In fact, it grows well in different types of soil, as long as there is no drainage problem. Add adequate amounts of humus, farmyard compost, and granular tree fertilizer to the existing garden soil, and plant the tree saplings.
Ideal Temperature Range
A tropical tree by origin, pomegranate thrives well in moderately high temperature. While it is tolerant to mild frost, exposure to temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit for a prolonged duration can lead to leaf damage and fall. The ideal temperature range for pomegranate tree cultivation is between 40 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
To ensure better growth and a good harvest of Pomegranate, select a plantation site that receives full sunlight. High temperature and heat are important for getting a good yield of large, juicy fruits. On the contrary, smaller and less juicy pomegranate fruits are produced, if the trees are exposed to shady environment for an extended time.
Regular and Deep Watering
No variety of pomegranate tree can tolerate long dry spells. It requires high humidity and sufficient amounts of water for optimal growth. For a good harvest, the plants should be deeply irrigated on a regular basis, especially during the flowering and fruiting stages. But, allow the top layer of the soil to dry between two watering sessions.
Prune at the Right Time
Regarding pomegranate tree pruning, the first trimming should be done when it reaches a height of about 2 feet. Depending upon the cultivar, a pomegranate tree height varies from four meters to eight meters. You can trim off the dead branches during cold winter months, when the trees are inactive.
Fertilizing is an Option
Supplementing fertilizer is not mandatory for pomegranate trees. However, if the planting soil is poor or it lacks essential plant nutrients, you can add organic fertilizers and farmyard compost occasionally, once in three months. Do not use chemical fertilizers for the plants when the fruits are in their ripening stage.
Pests and Diseases
Most pomegranate cultivars are resistant to common pests and diseases. Under unfavorable conditions, foliar damage and spots caused by mealy bugs, white flies, thrips and scale insects are manifested. Occasionally, these insects cause fruit spots. While using insecticides and pesticides for pest control, make sure you apply them before the fruits are ripe.
The dwarf pomegranate tree care is the same as that of regular sized varieties. So, follow the same maintenance tips for growing the dwarf species and bonsai forms of pomegranate as the regular variety. You can identify ripe fruits from their distinctive color. Harvest them before the fruits are overripe or crack opened. The major advantage of growing a pomegranate tree is that it survives for many years. Hence, there is no need for immediate replacement of the trees after fruit setting.