Pomegranate fruit trees are native to Asia and southeastern Europe, and were brought to Mexico, California and Arizona by the Spanish during the 16th century, according to the Arizona Cooperative Extension. Pomegranates (Punica granatum) grow best in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11, and grow well as a tree or shrub, depending on variety and pruning techniques utilized. Pomegranates are long-lived, can reach mature heights from 12 to 30 feet, and the pomegranate fruit typically appears within the first three seasons after planting. Grow pomegranate fruit plants suited for your location for best results.
Select an area to grow the pomegranate providing full sun and well-draining soil. Allow the room required for the mature size of the pomegranate fruit tree. Clear the area of all foliage. Cultivate the soil two times the size of the pomegranate plant's container, and the same depth. Dig a hole in the center.
Remove the pomegranate fruit plant from the container, and rinse off "an inch or so of the potting medium from the root ball as to expose the peripheral roots to the soil in which they must go," according to Texas AM University. Place the pomegranate plant in the hole and backfill with removed soil. Saturate with water to settle the soil, and add more soil over the root ball, if needed, after watering.
Create a watering ring out of the leftover dirt encircling the planting hole. Pile the dirt up several inches high and wide to form a wall. Fill the watering ring with water every other day for two weeks, and slowly increase the days between watering. Water every week after two months, and then every two to four weeks during dry periods only.
Cover an area extending out at least 2 feet in all directions with 3 to 4 inches of mulch. This retains moisture in the soil and prevents weeds emerging in the area surrounding the pomegranate fruit plant. Add more mulch annually, as needed, to cover the area of the pomegranate fruit plant's canopy.
Apply fertilizer as directed to the pomegranate fruit plant after growth appears. Texas AM University suggests, "one to two cups of ammonium sulfate in the first year should be sufficient, especially if it is split into three to four applications. Use about twice as much fertilizer in the second year and three times as much in the third year. Split applications in February, May and September are adequate."
Prune pomegranates as a tree, through removing all growth appearing on the lower section of the plant, and pruning most of the pomegranate branches back, except three or four to form the lateral branches of a tree. Continue to prune the branches annually for three seasons to develop a sturdy, well-framed tree, according to the California Rare Fruit Growers. Or follow the directions of Texas A&M University, which recommends allowing the pomegranate plant to grow naturally to form a bushy shrub. Always cut away any dead, diseased or frail branches; suckers; and any branches crossing over or touching on any pomegranate plant.
Pomegranate fruits can be picked before completely ripe (prior to splitting), and allowed to ripen further in cold storage, states Floridata. The pomegranate fruits can be stored for up to six months, and the flavor enhances with age. The interior of the pomegranate fruit contains numerous seeds surrounded by juice sacs, which are the edible parts of the plant. The fruit is broken open, and the seeds as well as the juice can be consumed, or the fruits are juiced.