How to Train Pomegranate Trees

Overview

The pomegranate, a native of the Mediterranean area, requires some winter chill to trigger the blooming cycle. If temperatures drop below 14 degrees F, fruiting wood could suffer freeze damage. Where winter kill of pomegranates may be a problem, train plants to a lower bushy shape for more protection from the cold. Pomegranate's natural shape includes several main trunks in a bushy thicket. Modifying that form gives better yields and easier harvests.

Step 1

Cut pomegranates back to between 2 and 2 1/2 feet tall when newly planted. Pinch back any new top growth to encourage strong side shoots.

Step 2

Select from three to five strong branches in a ladder pattern. Choose a first branch about 10 inches above the ground, a second about 6 inches above that, and the rest at higher levels on the short trunk. Branches should project from all sides of the trunk with an even spacing.

Step 3

Prune away 40 percent of the length of the side branches during the first winter. Thin out any side shoots on the branches as well, leaving only two or three shoots on each main branch.

Step 4

Cut out vertical sucker shoots growing from the crown of the tree in succeeding years, encouraging a wide vase shape with an open center. Shorten new growth by 40 percent for the first three winters, favoring side shoots rather than height.

Step 5

Prune out only the dead, crowded or broken limbs after the tree reaches its fourth year of growth. Allowing tip growth causes the pomegranate to set its first full crop, since flowers form only at the tips of branches.

Step 6

Prune mature pomegranate trees in late winter, clipping off winter-killed shoots 1/2 inch from the living part of the branch. Cut out any crossed branches or storm-damaged limbs. Control top growth by pruning out vertical suckers sprouting from the center of the tree or the higher limbs.

Tips and Warnings

  • Pomegranate bushes may grow 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide, with thorny limbs spreading close to the ground. Locate them away from heavily used areas. Pomegranates left untrained grow to a bushy thicket with multiple trunks and may flower in the second year. Training pomegranates gives the plant a chance to develop fully before setting higher quality fruit.

Things You'll Need

  • Limb loppers
  • Pruning shears

References

  • University of Florida: The Pomegranate
  • California Rare Fruit Growers: Pomegranate
  • Texas Citrus: Home Fruit Production

Who Can Help

  • Australia Department of Agriculture and Food: Pomegranates
Keywords: train pomegranate, prune pomegranate, winter kill pomegranates

About this Author

James Young began writing as a military journalist in Alaska and combat correspondent in Vietnam. He specializes in electronics, turnery, blacksmithing, outdoor sports, woodcarving, joinery and sailing. Young's articles have been published in "Tai Chi Magazine," "Sonar 4 Ezine," "The Marked Tree," "Stars & Stripes," the "SkinWalker Files" and "Fine Woodworking."