Thursday, April 15, 2010


Pomegranates (Punica granatum) are dense, bushy shrubs 6 to 12 feet tall with thorny, slender branches that may be trained into small trees. Orange-red flowers appear on new growth in the spring and summer and are bell-shaped and vase-shaped. The vase-shaped flowers are normally sterile, so they will not develop into fruit. Pomegranates generally fruit poorly in Georgia. The fruit contains numerous seeds surrounded by sweet pink, juicy, subacid pulp covered with leathery-brown to red, bitter skin, which is easily peeled. Pomegranate juice stains can be difficult to remove from clothing.

Pomegranates may be damaged by unseasonably low temperatures in the fall, winter or spring and in mid-winter by temperatures below 10 degrees F.

Pomegranates can tolerate many soil types and some flooding. Pomegranates grow best on a deep, fairly heavy, moist soil at a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0. Proper watering is important in growing pomegranates because adequate soil moisture is necessary to control fruit splitting and reduce fruit drop. Fertilize young pomegranates with 1 pound of 10-10-10 in March and July. Increase the rate as the plants grow until the mature tree is receiving 3 pounds of 10-10-10 in March and July.

Most growers prefer to train pomegranates into a multiple-trunk system. Select five or six vigorous suckers and allow them to grow. Pomegranates require some pruning each year, and unneeded vigorous shoots should be removed. The short spurs on two- or three-year-old wood growing mostly on the outer edge of the tree produce flowers. Light annual pruning encourages growth of new fruit spurs. Heavy pruning reduces yield, so be careful to leave adequate fruit-bearing wood on the tree while removing branches that may cross over or interfere with growth.

Hardwood cuttings are usually used for propagation. Cuttings 8 to 10 inches long of wood ¼ to ½ inch in diameter are cut in winter from the previous season's growth and planted with 2 to 3 inches of the top exposed.

Several varieties are available, including 'Belgal,' 'Granada' and 'Early Foothill' (early ripening), 'Ruby Red,' 'Sweet Spanish Papershell' and 'Wonderful.' How-ever, most of these varieties only set a few fruit each year in Georgia. In north Florida, 'Belgal' has been more productive than other varieties and usually produces about 10 fruit per year. There are many door-yard trees of unknown varieties around old home places and plantations that set good crops of fruit most years. These can be propagated by hardwood cuttings.

Pomegranate leaf blotch or fruit spot are occasion-ally problems.

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