This is a detailed post on how to grow pomegranate fruit trees at home. Aside from planting, you will find caring tips such as propagation, choosing the appropriate soil and planting site, watering, fertilizer application and, much more.
Furthermore, the article also touches on what plants to grow next to your pomegranates, spacing, when to harvest, post-harvest handling of fruits and, other maintenance practices.
Learn this and much more about this delicious fruit by reading through the article.
How to Grow Pomegranate Fruit Tree at Home
Propagate the plants
Propagate the plants easily by either cutting or by seeds. When propagating pomegranates by seeds, start by extracting the seed (consisting of aril and embryo) from the fruit.
You can either sow the freshly extracted seeds or treat them before planting for a higher germination percentage. To do this, first, dust them with a root enhancer and a fungicide (optional) and remove arils by rolling the seeds in a paper towel.
Rolling helps break the arils and allows seeds to absorb more fluid.
Once you are sure that all arils have been broken, rinse off the seeds thoroughly with water and allow them to dry for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Then refrigerate the seeds for a few weeks before sowing.
Sow the seeds about ½ to 1-inch-deep in any common potting medium and ensure that they are kept warm (75 to 85°F) and moist for quicker and better germination. Transplant the seedlings as soon as they reach approximately 6 inches tall.
When growing pomegranates from cuttings, harvest the cuttings from trees any time of the year. Ensure the cuttings are about 1/8 to ¼ inch caliper (a pencils’ diameter) and about 6 inches or longer.
To take the cuttings, first, thin out the canopy by removing the branches. This gives you easy access to the sprouts and suckers at the plant’s base (a good source of cuttings).
Dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone (for maximum rooting) and root them in a container with a well-draining rooting medium like one with peat and perlite.
Ensure that at least one node on each cutting is in the medium in a warm location and keep the medium moist all the time.
Under such conditions, cuttings will root in approximately four to eight weeks.
Pro Tip: Growing plants from seed can lead to genetic diversity and variability among seedlings. On the other hand, cuttings produce plants that are essentially identical to the mother plant (true-to-type) without variability.
Plus, cuttings taken from mature plants root much better as compared to those harvested from young plants.
Use suitable soil to grow your fruits
These fruit trees thrive best in well-draining sandy or loamy soils but can tolerate short periods of standing water. However, exposing your plants to excessive moisture for too long can be harmful.
Additionally, the trees are tolerant of slightly alkaline to moderately acidic conditions therefore, ensure the soil ph ranges between 5.5 to 7.2. Furthermore, they are salt-tolerant and can withstand watering with water that contains up to 2500 ppm salt.
When selecting where to grow your trees, consider how much sun the plants are exposed to as well as air circulation. For good fruit color and productivity, expose your plants to at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.
Also, maximize exposure to the sun by aligning the orchard rows north-south.
In addition to this, air circulation affects flower setting (in spring) therefore, if the conditions are too humid, flower set might not take place and if does, flowers may end up aborting.
So, grow your trees in an area with a gentle slope and free from shade for natural air circulation.
Although these trees are drought-tolerant, they require adequate soil moisture for considerable plant vigor and yield. Moreover, adequate water application throughout drought spells helps minimize fruit splits after a downpour.
The most appropriate method to water your plants is drip irrigation. This way, you minimize the spread of pathogens without affecting the fruit set process.
However, avoid excessive soil moisture during summer as this might result in huge vegetative growth and soft fruits with poor post-harvest quality. Again, avoid excessive water application in the fall as this might promote fruit splits and increased infections from field-borne diseases.
The appropriate spacing for these plants is approximately 15 feet (4.5 meters) apart. If you grow yours as a bush, they can grow up to 10 to 15 feet wide and tall.
However, it is easy to train it to a single stem and grow it as a small tree of about 20 feet tall. Or, prune it to about 10 to 12 feet tall and wide (or less) as per your liking.
Before planting, adjust the soil pH with dolomitic lime to about 6.5 and if the phosphorous level is less than 20 pounds per acre (after conducting a soil test), incorporate 150 pounds per acre of triple superphosphate.
And if you plan to grow a small tree, use a slow-release fertilizer to help with plant establishment. For a one-gallon plant use 1 ounce of 10-10-10 per foot of bush height in early spring, late spring, and summer.
Make an even application in a circle approximately 18 inches in diameter with the plant at the center. Increase the rate and diameter as the plant grows to a maximum of approximately 8 ounces per application when it reaches 8 feet tall.
Apply additional fertilizer in case your soil is very sandy and whenever you experience heavy rains.
Pro Tip: Excessive nitrogen application in late summer to early fall can bring harmful effects on fruit color and size. Similarly, trees become more susceptible to early chilling temperatures.
Plant other plants next to pomegranate
There are many companion plants that you can grow alongside the fruits. For instance; growing flowers like sunflower, coreopsis, zinnias, and cosmos next to attract bees for pollination.
Other flowers such as nasturtiums repel aphids, while Queen Anne's lace and gerbera daisies attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings that feed on aphids.
Additionally, grow vegetables such as leaf celery and fennel to attract beneficial insects to the orchard while maintaining an edible garden.
Prune and Train the Trees
Prune the trees each year and regularly remove any growth and suckers that are not needed. Carry out light annual pruning to encourage new growth and get your pomegranate to bloom. But, avoid aggressive pruning as it greatly affects yield.
However, perform a major pruning during winter just before buds emerge and couple it with minor pruning in mid-summer to remove the suckers.
When carrying out major pruning, try as much as possible to maintain an open vase-shaped tree with enough lateral branches. These branches will be able to support the tree plus, the fruits without inhibiting sunlight penetration, airflow as well as too much fruit rub in windy conditions.
Since fruit weight can be too heavy for the branch to hold, it is paramount to support the branches so that fruits don’t touch the ground.
Harvest Mature fruits
The fruits start to ripen at end of August especially for early maturing cultivars and continue through October with late-maturing cultivars going to early November.
To determine proper harvest maturity, check color development and tap the fruits. A mature fruit produces a ‘ting’/metallic sound.
Harvesting fruits from a properly pruned and trained tree is easy. Using a shear, clip the fruits off the branches. Ensure that you cut as close to the fruit as possible to protect it from being pierced by the sharp wood edges.
This too helps protect the fruits from getting damaged as they rub against each other in the harvesting bin/basket.
Postharvest Handling and Storage
Handle the fruits just like apples. After harvesting, wash the fruits with chlorine and rinse with water. Then sort them by weight, color, defects curls, and cracks.
Once you have sorted, treat them with a postharvest fungicide for long-term storage. In addition to this, apply a storage wax to improve their storage life and promote the visual qualities of the fruits.
These fruits can store for about 6 weeks in open-air storage or 5 months in controlled atmosphere storage. Controlled atmosphere storage (CA) helps reduce the browning of red pigments in the fruit’s rind otherwise known as storage scald.
Store fruits with disease pressure at a temperature of about 32-34 degrees F. Low temperatures help suppress the growth and spread of pathogens.
However, don’t keep them for more than 3 weeks as this might lead to chilling injury (browning of white interlocular arils and membrane.
On the other hand, store good quality fruits at 41 degrees F (lowest temperature) for less than 3 weeks or at 45 degrees F for long-term storage.
Protect your Plants from Pest and Disease Attack
Leaf and Fruit Spots
This disease is caused by Pseudocercospora punicae. It is characterized by small, irregularly-shaped dark-brown lesions on the leaves. While in fruits symptoms include irregular black lesions that later coalesce into larger blotches.
Anthracnose is caused by Colletotrichum spp and symptoms include; defoliation, twig cankers, shoot blight, diebacks, blotches, and spots. The infected fruits show sunken lesions with slimy orange masses of spores.
Infection on leaves appears as irregular brown spots and the occurrence of leaf spots becomes severe with prolonged rain. Eventually, defoliation takes place. Anthracnose also infects new growth and young shoots leading to stem tip dieback.
Aphids are persistent pests in these fruits. The aphids contribute to fruit damage by causing sooty mold and soft rot on the fruits.
Moreover, aphids are capable of transmitting viruses from one tree to another.
Use biological means such as ladybugs to get rid of aphids before their numbers increase beyond control.
You’ve just read about how to grow pomegranate trees at home. I have touched on most if not all things you should keep in mind when growing these fruits.
Below is a summary of the things you should look at before and after planting.
- Use the most appropriate propagation method.
- Select an appropriate growing site.
- Use well-draining sandy or loamy soil.
- Water your trees
- Maintain the health and vigor of your trees by applying fertilizer.
- Exercise regular pruning and training.
- Make use of companion planting.
- Protect the trees from pests and diseases.
By following the tips outlined above, you will be confident of having bountiful and healthy fruits.
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