The pomegranate ), botanical name Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between 5 and 8 m (16 and 26 ft) tall.In the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to February,and in the Southern Hemisphere from March to May. As intact arils or juice, pomegranates are used in cooking, baking, meal garnishes, juice blends, smoothies, and alcoholic beverages, such as cocktails and wine.The pomegranate originated in the region of modern-day Iran and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region and northern India.It was introduced into America (Spanish America) in the late 16th century and California by Spanish settlers in 1769.Today, it is widely cultivated throughout the Middle East and Caucasus region, north Africa and tropical Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, and the drier parts of southeast Asia. It is also cultivated in parts of California and Arizona. In recent years, it has become more common in the commercial markets of Europe and the Western Hemisphere
HOW TO GROW
- There are several ways you can grow a pomegranate: from a seedling, a cutting, or from seed. Growing pomegranates from seeds does not guarantee you will get a certain variety of pomegranate and you will have to wait three or four years before your plant produces any fruit.
- Obtain your pomegranate cutting or seedling.You can purchase a pomegranate seedling at your local nursery. Make sure you buy a variety that produces edible fruit if you are hoping to be able to eat homegrown pomegranate. However, if you have a friend who has a pomegranate tree, you can also take a cutting from his or her tree. Cut a branch that is at least 10 inches long. Cover the cut end of the branch with rooting hormone to help it grow.
- Pick a spot that that gets plenty of sunshine.Pomegranate trees love sunshine and will only fruit reliably when they get enough sun. If you do not have a spot in your yard that gets constant sun throughout the day, pick the spot that gets the least amount of shade
- Choose a soil that drains well.Pomegranate trees are not able to cope with waterlogged soil (known as “soggy feet”). Instead, they do best in well-draining or even sandy soil. Some pomegranate growers maintain that slightly acidic soil is best for pomegranates, though they also grow very well in moderately alkaline soil. For the most part, pomegranates will adopt to the soil they are planted in, so long as it drains well.
- Shelter your pomegranate from wind and intense moisture.Plant your pomegranate in a warm, dry spot that is at least partly protected from heavy winds. Avoid planting it in an area of your garden that is moist, dark, or dank. Keep in mind that pomegranates thrive in hot, dry climates
- Plant your pomegranate.You should plant your pom in early spring after the last frost. Gently remove your seedling from the container. Wash about an inch of the bottom of the root ball to remove the excess potting medium. Doing this will help your plant establish itself faster than those plants that are just transferred from the nursery container to the ground. Dig a hole two feet (60 cm) deep and wide and place your pomegranate seedling into the hole.
- If you are growing your plant from a cutting, loosen the soil and plant your pomegranate branch vertically so that the cut end is about five to six inches down in the soil, with the dormant buds pointing up towards the sky
- Water your pom immediately after planting it.Doing this helps to settle the soil around the newly planted pomegranate. After the initial watering, water your plant every couple of days until it begins to grow new leaves. New leaf growth is the sign that your plant as settled into its new home. Gradually transition to watering your plant every seven to ten days.
- When the tree is flowering or producing fruit, give your plant a good, deep water every week. If it rains, you don’t need to water it quite as much.
- Fertilize your plant once it has become established.Ammonium sulfate fertilizer works well for pomegranates. Sprinkle about ⅓ of a cup of fertilizer three times throughout the first year of growth (February, May and September are ideal times to do this)
- Keep the area around your pom weeded.You don’t want any weeds or other plants competing with your pom. Keep the area weeded, or lay down some organic mulch around your plant. Mulch helps to fight weeds and grasses while also retaining moisture for the plant.
- Train your plant into tree form if desired.While pomegranates are more shrub than tree, you can trim them so that they look like trees, which many people do. Using gardening shears or clippers, cut the suckers (the smaller branches that help the plant take on its shrub form) growing at the base of the plant so that it takes on more of a tree shape. You should do this shortly after the plant has become established. If you don’t care whether you plant is tree-like or not, let it grow naturally.
- Remove dead or damaged parts of your plant.While pruning is not very necessary in pomegranate plants, you should cut away dead or dying branches in the spring to help your plant grow. You can also thin your plant as you see necessary.
- If you are growing your pom in a container, you will need to prune and train a bit more heavily to keep your pom the size and shape you want it to be.
- Keep your pom healthy.Avoid mold growth by making sure you do not overwater your pom. The two other problems some pomegranates face are aphids and the pomegranate butterfly. Aphids can be killed by using a spray bought at your local nursery or garden store. The pomegranate butterfly is not very common and should not be a problem. If it is, use a butterfly spray to rid your trees of the larvae.
- While butterflies are generally harmless, this specific kind of butterfly has larvae that actually grow inside the pomegranate fruit, making the fruit inedible.
- Pomegranates need full sun. Keep an eye on the weather report and if temps threaten to drop below 40 degrees F. (4 C.), move the plant indoors to a sunny window.
Water the tree deeply about once a week, possibly more often during peak summer months. Fertilize the tree with half cup of 10-10-10. Spread the fertilizer atop the soil and two inches away from the trunk. Water the food into the soil. During the first two years of the tree’s growth, feed in November, February, and May, and thereafter fertilize only in November and February.
Prune out any crossing branches or shoots to three to five per branch after the tree’s first year. Prune out any dead or damaged limbs in the late winter. Prune out suckers to create a more tree-like appearance.
- Fungal issues are part of growing pomegranate plants. Pomagranates perform best in areas with hot, dry summers, which means northern gardeners in cooler regions with plentiful rainfall may find raising the tree a challenge. The most frequent complaint is pomegranate tree diseases that affect the fruit. Many fungal issues will cause some leaf drop, but this is generally not enough to affect overall tree health. The fruit is the reason for growing the plant and there are many diseases that will cause splitting, rot and an overall appearance and taste that are unappealing.
Start with correct site location and well drained, organically amended soil. Plant the trees 15 to 20 feet apart to prevent overcrowding and enhance circulation. Fertilize after growth begins with ammonium sulfate divided into four applications starting in February and ending in September.
As the most concerning diseases in pomegranate, fungal issues can be the hardest to control. The frequent agitators are Alternaria fruit rot, Aspergillus fruit rot and Boytrytis.
- Alternaria fruit rot – Alternaria is also called black rot and causes damage to the fruit in the form of wounds and rot on the interior of the fruit. It occurs after heavy rains just when fruit is beginning to form.
- Aspergillus fruit rot – Aspergillus has similar timing and effects as Alternaria fungal issues.
- Botrytris – Botrytis, a gray mold which is familiar to any grower of tropical fruits, infects trees during flowering. Spores infiltrate the flowers and stay in hibernation during fruiting. It is activated during the post harvest wash and spreads like wild fire through all the harvested fruits.
- Another occasional fungal issue is Cercospora fruit spot, which will not only cause black rotted spots on the outside of fruit but also compressed black areas on twigs and defoliation. It can actually cause a tree to die over time.
- Treating Pomegranate Fruit Diseases
Control of fungal issues should start before the fruit develops in early spring and continue through summer as fruits mature. Use a copper fungicide according to the directions and promote good circulation by pruning in the dormant season to open the canopy.
Many of the exact causes of these diseases are not completely understood but fungicide use and proper cultivation of the plants can help the tree combat minor infestations. Good healthy trees are less likely to be bothered by minor fungal issues.
In the case of Cercospora, removal of diseased leaves, twigs and fruits can help control its spread, along with fungicide application.
- Most powerful anti-oxidant of all fruits
- Potent anti-cancer and immune supporting effects
- Inhibits abnormal platelet aggregation that could cause heart attacks, strokes and embolic diseaseLowers cholesterol and other cardiac risk factorsLowers blood pressure
- Shown to promote reversal of atherosclerotic plaque in human studies
- May have benefits to relieve or protect against depression and osteoporosis
- Many studies show that the pomegranate is one of the most powerful, nutrient dense foods for overall good health. These clinical findings clearly show a correlation between pomegranate compounds and their positive effect on both human and animal cardiovascular, nervous, and skeletal health. This is one fruit that you can’t afford to exclude from your diet!