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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.