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Growing Pomegranates: Punica granatum

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Overview
Now placed in the Crepe Myrtle family, the Punica genus has only two species, the most well known being Punica granatum, the Pomegranate. Hundreds of cultivars are grown throughout the world.

Description
Form: A many-branched shrub or small tree.
Lifespan: Up to 300 years with best production in first 25 years.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Slow to Moderate.
Mature Size: 6-15' high, depending on cultivar.
Flowers: Showy, trumpet shaped, ruffled petals, about 2" long, often double, produced over a long period, usually orange-red. Some ornamental cultivars produce no fruit but have large flowers in many colors including white.
Bloom: Winter into spring, or spring through summer, depending on local climate.
Self-fruitful: Yes, but cross-pollination from another plant increases fruit set.
Years before fruiting: Can start in second year, but best production after 5-6 years.
Fruit: Shiny, reddish, apple-sized, spherical, with a cylindrical cap on the blossom end. Each seed is encased in a sack (aril) containing juicy pulp. The juice, pulp and seeds are edible. The juice and pulp are usually red, but in some cultivars are pink or white, possibly non-staining, and sweeter. Temperature also affects the color of the pulp surrounding the seeds in some cultivars, which will have a lighter color in hot weather and be darker red when temperatures turn cold.
Months for fruit to ripen: 5-7. Ripeness is signaled when tapping on the fruit produces a metallic sound. Remove fruit as soon as ripe.
Storage after harvest: Refrigerated fruit can last up to 7 months.
Leaves: Shiny, dark green, lance-shaped, about 3" long.
Stems: Branches may have spines. Red-brown bark.
Roots: Shallow, non-invasive.
Cultivars of note for hot climates:
'Angel Red' large vivid red fruit, highest juice content (red), soft edible seeds, best for juicing, prolific, ripens late summer, 150 chill hours
'Ariana' medium to large red fruit, soft edible seeds, soft arils, excellent flavor, ripens mid-fall, 100-200 chill hours
'Eversweet' large red fruit, virtually seedless, clear arials, clear, very sweet, non-staining juice, ripens late summer through fall, 150 chill hours
'Parfianka' large red fruit, very small edible seeds, sweet red juice, excellent flavor, ripens mid-fall, 100 to 200 chill hours
'Pink Satin' medium-sized, pink to dark red fruit, medium to large edible seeds, light-colored non-staining juice, sweet fruit-punch flavor, vigorous, ripens mid-fall, 150-200 chill hours
'Wonderful' medium to large purple-red fruit with tangy flavor, medium-hard seeds, vigorous, ripens mid-fall, productive plant grown commercially, 150 chill hours.
Wildlife: Attracts butterflies, bees, hummingbirds. May be browsed by deer.
Toxic / Danger: All parts mildly poisonous except for edible fruit. Possible spines on branches.
Origin: Iran to the Himalayas. Usage dates back over 3000 years.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8-11.
Sunset climate zones: 8-24.
Chill hours: 100-200.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Water once established: Once or twice a month, weekly in hottest parts of summer when bearing fruit. Under summer rainy conditions, fruit can be blemished, soft and have poor storage qualities.
Soil: Well-drained, pH 5.6-7.8 (acidic to slightly alkaline), best in pH 6.1-7.5 (slightly acidic to neutral).
Fertilize: Pomegranates can benefit from aged compost with manure spread evenly under the canopy and at least 6" away from the trunk in late February. Water immediately.
Mulch: Annually using aged compost.
Prune: Remove suckers from roots as they appear. For the first three years, in winter, shorten the branches to encourage new shoot development. Most cultivars can be cut on top to any height desired. Most can be pruned into a single- or multi-trunk tree, a shrub, or a hedge.
Litter: Moderate from leaves, flowers, fruits.
Propagation: Seed, cuttings.
Uses: Fruit, ornamental.

Comments
Formerly placed in its own family (Punicaceae). The bottom two pictures show a non-fruiting, ornamental flower and its shrub.



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Pomegranate: Punica granatum - flowers

Pomegranate: Punica granatum - fruit

Pomegranate: Punica granatum - large flower

Pomegranate: Punica granatum


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