The pomegranate tree (Punica granatum) is native to the Middle East and is now cultivated in dry, warm climates all over the globe. The dwarf variety of the pomegranate (Punica granatum "Nana") is a popular choice for bonsai. With care, the dwarf pomegranate bonsai can be trained into any number of different bonsai forms and be encouraged to flower or bear its classically shaped miniature orange-red fruits.
Potting and Repotting
Selecting an appropriate pot is a key method for creating an attractive pomegranate bonsai. The Columbus Bonsai Society suggests potting dwarf pomegranates in light blue or deep blue containers that are deeper than most bonsai containers, as their root system grows rapidly. A mixture of 30 percent sand, 10 percent peat moss and 60 percent light soil is advised; keep the soil moist without overwatering. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension recommends repotting flowering and fruiting bonsai specimens, such as the pomegranate, on an annual basis, preferably in the early spring when new growth buds start to appear.
Methods for pruning pomegranate bonsai depend on whether you want them to flower or bear fruit. The Columbus Bonsai Society says that pomegranate bushes have a tendency towards a shrub habit, so the first step in pruning is to trim away any suckers that emerge. To maintain traditional bonsai shapes, new growth is usually pruned away from the plant in the spring. However, pomegranate blooms on new growth, so the Columbus Bonsai Society recommends allowing the new growth to remain until after flowering and then trimming the plant back to the desired form. Allowing the plant to fruit may weaken it, but some bonsai growers train their pomegranates to a weeping form and allow a few fruit to develop on the hanging branches.
Wrapping plant limbs in flexible copper or aluminum wire is a common bonsai method of training plants to a particular shape. Writing for the American Bonsai Society, George Buehler notes that dwarf pomegranate limbs are particularly brittle, which creates wiring challenges. He suggests first allowing the tree to dry out slightly, then massaging the pomegranate limb between your thumb and forefinger for several minutes until it becomes more pliable before wrapping it with the lightest wire suitable for the size of the branch being manipulated. Because of pomegranate's brittleness, Buehler advises that wiring may need to be left in place on pomegranate bonsai for up to six months to ensure that the desired shape has been taken by the limb.