Pomegranate trees (Punica granatum) reach up to 30 feet tall in perfect conditions, but typically climb 12 to 16 feet tall as a round shrub or small tree. This deciduous tree produces stiff branches covered with glossy, leathery lance-shaped leaves. Several varieties of pomegranate trees grow spines along the branches. The white or red flowers spread within an inch wide. The red pomegranates are nearly round, reaching 2 to 5 inches across. Proper attention of the pomegranate tree will help grow strong fruitful plants.
Pomegranate trees originate from East Asia, like the Himalaya region in northern India. For centuries, this tree was cultivated throughout the Mediterranean area. In 1769, Spanish settlers brought the very first pomegranate tree to California. Pomegranate trees have spread throughout the USA, being grown commercially and in home gardens.
Pomegranate trees grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11 in semi-arid and subtropical areas. These trees adjust to cool winters and warm summers, but also are broken when temperatures fall below 12 degrees Fahrenheit. They also favor good-draining rich, fertile soils in full sun exposure.
These fruit trees reside over 200 years at the right growing conditions, but most fruit production occurs throughout the first 15 years of the plant’s lifespan. Several pomegranate trees planted in perfect locations with the right maintenance start to produce fruit within one year after planting, but it isn’t uncommon for new trees to take up to three years to start bearing fruit. Young trees up to 5 years old suffer with regular fruit drops, when the tree sheds fruit. This generally occurs to trees growing in stressful conditions such as overfertilization and overwatering. Once the trees are older, fruit drops are less common.
Pomegranate trees grow from seeds, however, the seed does not create a duplicate of the parent plant. The best way to propagate these trees is through stem cuttings. The cuttings are taken from the winter and hit 12 to 20 inches long. After establishing roots, young pomegranate trees start fruit production in three years.
Pomegranate trees only need light pruning during their lifetime. Since pomegranate trees produce flowers on new growth, prune the tree before the new growth starts in the spring. Remove suckers and dead timber at this time. Prune back the upward growing branches to control the magnitude of the plant. Don’t prune heavily, because it lowers the amount of fruit that the pomegranate tree produces.