Pomegranates are spoken of in Egyptian texts, classic Greek literature, the Old Testament and the Talmud. The pomegranate plant grows in a small shrub or tree form that has thorns. Some pomegranate plants have been recorded as being over 200 years old. They produce fist-sized fruits that are leathery in texture and filled with fleshy, pink, edible seeds. The plant will grow in Arkansas with some assistance. Thanks to Arkansas’s mild climate and variable soil, the plant will grow better in some parts of the state than others.
Select a sunny, warm location in well-drained soil for your pomegranates to grow. In clay soil locations such as those found in the Ouachita or Ozark mountains, consider mixing in gypsum to break up the soil and compost to add organic nutrients. Mix both in with a rototiller.
Choose pomegranate varieties that are cold tolerant. Varieties such as “Wonderful” are tolerant up to the USDA plant heartiness zone 7, and can be grown throughout about 75 percent of Arkansas. For Arkansas Zone 6, pomegranates will grow well in containers and can be moved indoors during late fall, winter and early spring.
Move container pomegranates outdoors once all danger of frost has passed. Protect plants in zones 7a and 7b by wrapping them with layers of landscaping-style tree-wrapping fabric, burlap and straw.
Purchase pomegranate cuttings from a nursery. Dip the basal end of your cutting in rooting hormone and plant it in a 6-inch container of potting soil. Place a plastic bag over the container and put the container under grow lights until the plant produces roots. Move the container outdoors during daylight hours to harden the plant off. Then transplant it into its permanent location in early spring by digging a planting hole using a shovel, placing the root ball in the planting hole and covering the hole with the excavated soil.
Water pomegranate seedlings with 1 inch of water every 3 days for the first 2 weeks while the plant establishes itself in the ground, then reduce the frequency of watering to 1 inch of water every 10 days. Established plants are very drought tolerant, but require frequent water to produce fruit.
Fertilize pomegranates for their first two springs after planting with a nitrogen-based fertilizer (3-1-2). From three years of age onward, mulch with well-rotted manure.
Prune pomegranate plants by removing suckers and dead branches.
Pick pomegranate plants as soon as the fruits make a metallic sound when tapped.