Fact Sheet from the Just Fruits and Exotics Nursery
by Brandy Cowley Gilbert




Pomegranate
Punica granatum L.


Introduction
Pomegranate juice is a true delicacy, with a flavor that is a cross between strawberries and raspberries. It’s great by itself with a little sugar and shaved ice. It can also be made into jelly or a fantastic fruit wine. There’s a tasty reason pomegranates were called the nectar of the gods.

Uses in the Landscape
Pomegranates grow to approximately 12-15 feet tall. The attractive shrubby plants are deciduous, and have glossy dark green leaves. Flowers are flaming orange-red, and may grow singly or in clumps. Add a pomegranate to your shrubbery border or as a fruitful hedge. Pomegranates are self pollinating, so you can plant only one if you wish. For a hedge, plant 6-9 feet apart and let suckers fill in the gaps.

Planting and Culture

Site Selection

Well-drained, sandy loam soils are preferred, but pomegranates will grow on many soil types if good drainage is provided. Pomegranates will grow more vigorously and produce more fruit in full sun. Avoid frost pockets – trees may be damaged by unseasonable frosts.

Soil Preparation and Planting
Pomegranates prefer alkaline soil (pH 6.5 to 7.0 or higher). If you are in doubt about the acidity of your soil, take a soil sample to the Cooperative Extension Agent in your county for a soil test. Adjust soil pH as necessary.

Dig a planting hole approximately three times the width of the pot and at the same depth as the root ball. Set that soil aside and mix it 50/50 with either aged mushroom compost, aged manure, or rotted pine bark & aged manure/compost. Remove the plant from the pot, gently loosen the root ball and place in the planting hole. To avoid burying too deep, make sure plant is positioned with the top most roots at the soil line. Fill the planting hole with the mix of soil and organic matter; gently tamp it in. Water thoroughly to settle the roots and eliminate air pockets. Do NOT put fertilizer in the planting hole. Only apply fertilizer if it is the correct time of year (see Fertilization section below).

If desired, construct a water basin around the base of the tree approximately 36 inches in diameter. Mulch in spring and summer with approximately 4-6 inches of mulch. Pull mulch a couple of inches away from the trunk for good air circulation.

Fertilization
The type of fertilizer you choose may be chemical or organic. Make sure that the fertilizer contains iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, copper and boron. These minor elements are very important to plants and most soils are low in these elements. Application rates vary according to age of plant. See chart below.

10-10-10 or 10-0-10 with minerals:1 cup per each year of tree’s life - Max out at 9 cups for Mature tree
Espoma Citrus Tone (Organic): 6 cups for 1 year old -  10 cups for 2 year old (4-6ft) -  18 cups for 7-9ft tree -  24 cups for tree over 9ft


Spread the fertilizer evenly under the entire canopy of the plant avoiding a 5-inch area around the trunk. Water or rake in. For Zones 8a-10, fertilize 3 times each year in late February, late May and late July. Never fertilize after August as this will promote new growth late in the year which will be subject to freeze damage.

Water
The first year is a critical time for the establishment of a new pomegranate. Water thoroughly twice a week on light soils and once a week on clay soils. Soak the entire root system deeply – this usually takes 40-50 minutes. Pomegranates should receive at least 1 inch of water each week for best growth and fruit production. Water regularly, especially during dry periods. Fruit may drop prematurely if insufficiently irrigated during dry spells.

Pruning and Care
Pomegranates tend to be bushy and sucker from the root. Fruit wood is formed on older wood so it is wise to choose 4 to 6 well spaced out suckers to train into trunks and remove any new suckers as they emerge through out the summer. Prune out crossing and crowed branches to maintain light within the canopy. Pomegranates are best pruned in early spring rather than winter to remove freeze damaged and dead wood. If trunks are heavily damaged to freezes remove and replace with a newly emerging sucker in the summer.

Pomegranates have few pests and diseases. Mites can be controlled with sulfur dust in June while scale insects can be controlled with dormant oil during winter when leaves are not present. A neutral liquid copper spray controls leaf spot.


Variety List for Central Florida
All pomegranates are self pollinating.

CHRISTINA This variety was found growing in Port St. Joe Florida by Bill Mahan. It is a beautiful, deep red skinned pomegranate, with pale pink seeds and very juicy. One of the few pomegranates we have seen to bear heavily in the humid south. Very cold hardy.

GAINEY SWEET Heirloom from the Gainey family, excellent sweet flavor. Good producer.

GAINEY SOUR Reliable fruiter with good quality fruit for making sauces and marinades.

LARKIN An heirloom from Marianna, Florida. This one fruits reliably and is sweeter than WONDERFUL and tarter than CHRISTINA. A great gift from another great customer.

RUSSIAN #8 This one has a strange name as the donor who brought us the cuttings lost the name tag! The mother tree came from Russia and was the 8th one in the row, so Russian #8 was born. It's a large pomegranate and the sweetest one we carry.

SHARI’S Another gift from a great customer, Shari’s has a tart flavor and ripens from August into October.
Juicy red seeds and a deep orange skin.
 
Bring Ancient Beauty to Your Garden
Willowy, shiny, emerald green plants that are quite showy when in bloom, with large, red, trumpet-shaped flowers. That’s a pomegranate!
Flowering begins in May and continues for several weeks. Hummingbirds love the flowers, which are followed by a colorful show of pomegranate fruit that hangs on the trees like Christmas tree ornaments `til frost.
Pomegranates may be pruned into graceful, small trees, trained to a wall in espalier, or planted four feet apart to make one of the most colorful hedges around.
You may plant pomegranates in a large container to enjoy in a patio setting. Fall color is a gorgeous bright yellow.



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Pomegranate Page



Bibliography

Gilbert, Cowley, Brandy. "Pomegranate." justfruitsandexotics.com. Web. 1 Jan. 2015.

Photographs

Fig. 1,2,7 Gilbert, Cowley, Brandy. "Choosing the Right Loquat Variety." N.d. justfruitsandexotics.com. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

Published 18 Mar. 2015 LR
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