Pomegranates have been a favorite fruit in the Middle East and Mediterranean countries for many centuries. Since 1769, the fruit has also been grown in California. Pomegranate also thrives in other dry regions of the west such as Arizona. Pomegranates prefer hot summers and cool winter temperatures, according to the California Rare Fruit Growers, but are hardy only down to 12 degrees F. The pomegranate is a shrub or small tree that normally grows to about 15 feet. It's best to grow your pomegranate tree in a sunny area with well-draining soil.
Plant your young pomegranate tree in spring in a sunny spot in your garden where it will have enough space to spread 12 to 15 feet at maturity. If your soil is heavy clay, dig about 4 cups of small gravel and 1 gallon of organic compost into your planting hole. If your soil already includes organic materials and is loamy, you needn't enrich it before planting. Set your tree into the planting hole and then backfill with the soil/compost/gravel mixture.
Drive two plant stakes into the soil 8 to 12 inches from the trunk on opposite sides of the tree. Use rubber tree supports, available at nurseries, to tie your tree to the stakes. The stakes and supports will help to support your tree during heavy winds and will also help protect it from animals such as deer that might damage the tree.
Water your tree thoroughly with at least 5 gallons of water immediately after planting. Check for soil moisture while the tree is small, and in general water every two to four weeks during its first summer, or when the soil feels dry to the touch 2 inches deep. After the first summer, your pomegranate will withstand droughts very well, but the California Rare Fruit Growers advise that irrigation will increase the fruit harvest.
Fertilize your pomegranate with a nitrogen-rich plant food during its first two springs. The California Rare Fruit Growers suggest feeding your tree 2 to 4 oz. of ammonium sulfate, but add that after the first two years, this tree needs little fertilizer. Mulching with rotted manure or other organic compost is the best fertilizer, they state.
Prune your tree when it is 2 feet tall to shape it. Cut back any shoots or branches that are closer to the ground than 1 foot. Also remove all suckers. For the tree's first three years of life, cut branches to about half their length every year to encourage new shoots, which will cause greater fruit production and promote a strong, well-formed growth habit. When your tree is older than three years old, prune off only dead branches and suckers.
Build a fence to keep deer away from your tree if you live in an area where these animals exist. Deer love to eat the leaves of the pomegranate and can hinder the tree's fruit production. You can fence your entire garden area, or simply enclose your tree with a ring of heavy gauge wire, making sure that deer cannot reach the tree through the holes in the wire with their heads.