Pomegranate trees are native to the Mediterranean area and have been cultivated since ancient times. Pomegranate was brought west by Spanish explorers in the 17th century. It is a neat, rounded shrub or small tree that grows to a height of 12 to 16 feet. Pomegranates are easy to espalier against a wall or train as a tree. Pomegranate trees can live up to 200 years, but productivity decreases after 15 years. The bright red fruit are 2 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter with a calyx at the crown. Pomegranates also do well as container plants.
How to Plant a Pomegranate Tree
Choose a garden spot which receives sun all day. Partial shade is tolerable but not the optimum condition. The tree can be injured in temperatures below 12 degrees F. Trees may grow in cold weather but will not bear fruit. Pomegranates self-pollinate or pollinate by insects, so other pomegranate trees nearby are not essential to set fruit. They are very drought tolerant and do not require a nearby water source.
Dig the hole. Plant the pomegranate tree in ordinary, well-drained garden soil. Dig a hole two times as wide and deep as the container the tree came in.
Add compost. Add one shovelful of composted fertilizer into the hole. Pomegranate trees grow in ordinary soil but also benefit from additional compost. Compost adds live micro-organisms to the soil which supply a slow release of minerals to the root system of the growing tree.
Plant the tree. Put the pomegranate in the hole on top of the layer of compost. Fill in hole with garden soil. Press down firmly on the soil around the tree base.
Water your pomegranate. Soak the newly planted tree well, allowing water to reach 1 to 2 feet in depth. Water every two to four weeks after the tree is established. Do not leave standing water at the tree base.
Continuing Care and Harvest
Prune your pomegranate. When the tree is 2 feet in height prune to establish four to five main branches. Fruit develops on the tips of new growth. Continue cutting back main branches to encourage evenly distributed new growth. After the tree is 3 years old, prune suckers and dead branches only.
Harvest fruit when it is dark rust-colored red and makes a metallic sound when tapped. Pomegranate can be successfully stored for seven months in a temperature range of 32 degrees F to 41 degrees F
Score the pomegranate to open it. Seeds may be eaten raw or made into juice. Pomegranate is also used to make jelly, jam, and both hot and cold sauces.