Although it does not have the popularity of other fruit trees, the pomegranate tree has a lot to offer. In addition to being easy to grow and somewhat adaptable to a variety of climates, it is a small and tidy tree with a lot of potential. You can grow a pomegranate tree for its beautiful blossoms, for its decorative fruit or for the benefits of pomegranate juice.
The pomegranate tree is native to the Middle East but has been introduced to many countries including the United States, traveling to California with Spanish settlers in 1769. The pomegranate tree is attractive, disease resistant and lives considerably longer than most other fruit trees. Pomegranate trees bear a dark red fruit the size of an apple that is actually a berry. The fruit of the pomegranate tree is popular for its health benefits. Pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants. A 2005 study in the American Journal of the College of Cardiology showed that pomegranate juice is also helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease. Another 2005 study by the National Academy of Sciences showed that it reduced the risk for prostrate cancer, and scientists at Case Western Reserve University have shown that it also helps relieve arthritis.
The pomegranate tree prefers drier climates with cool winters and hot summers. Temperatures below 10 degrees F will probably damage your pomegranate tree and fruit production may not be possible in colder climates. High levels of humidity may hinder the fruit production of your tree as well. Your pomegranate tree will withstand drought easily but will produce less fruit unless irrigated. The pomegranate tree can adjust to life in a greenhouse and may fruit in those conditions.
Pomegranate trees are best grown from cuttings. Look for a cutting that is at least 15 inches long. Choose a very warm and sunny spot for the optimum health of your pomegranate tree. It will grow in partial shade, but it will thrive in the sun. Well-drained, average soil will work well for your pomegranate tree and so will alkaline soil, calcareous soil, gravel and acidic loam. Since the pomegranate is self-pollinating, you only need one tree for fruit production.
Water your new tree thoroughly after you plant it. Continue to water it every few days for the first two weeks. After that, water it every 10 days through the dry season. For the first two springs, give your tree between 2 and 4 oz. ammonium sulfate or another nitrogen fertilizer. When your tree is 2 feet tall, prune it back and it should then produce shoots. You can train your pomegranate to be a bush, hedge or tree depending on how you prune it. Regular pruning will help it to fill out. The more branches it has, the better for fruit production.
The mature tree can grow to 30 feet but is usually around 15 feet tall. It has reddish brown bark and thick, lance-shaped leaves with a glossy appearance. The tree has a neat, round shape to it. It has attractive red and white blossoms, produces fruit in late summer (five to seven months after it blooms) and loses its leaves in autumn. Your tree probably will not bear fruit until its third year. You will know the fruit are ripe by their dark color and metallic sound. The fruit can be stored in a manner similar to apples and has the storage life of an apple.