Pomegranate Care Guide
Pomegranates originated in Central Asia. It was first mentioned by the Greeks and became part of their mythology. Hades, the God of the Dead, kidnapped Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of nature, enticing her with the mysterious edible seeds of the pomegranate. Thus starting the four season cycle.
To trace the fruit though it's migration westward ending in California is a saga. " Better than the wildest novel" says Barbara L. Baer owner of Floreant Press and contributor to "The Incredible Pomegranate, Plant and Fruit". "Mesmerizing! Watch out for Pomegranate fever. You may start obsessing and talk about pomegranate randomly to friends, relatives and complete strangers."
Pomegranates in pots
There are some 1,000 varieties of pomegranate with only one "wonderful" variety being grown in CA. Dr Levin a Russian scientist has spent most of his life selecting and breeding pomegranates in the former USSR. When the USSR disbanded, Levin's experiment station suffered the loss of funding the USSR had provided. For 2 years he attempted to keep the station viable. Before leaving the station he sent some of his best selections of around 40 years work to different horticultural institutions around the world. One of his selections we call Russian, has fruited yearly and ripened its fruit with no winter damage since it's been planted here in Afton VA zone 7.
Dr Levin, the California Rare Fruit Growers, writer Barbara L Baer, University of CA at Davis and other pioneers have been instrumental in bringing approximately 60 varieties from Russia into the US.
Pomegranate prefer semi arid and mild temperate climate, cool winters, hot summers. It can grow in the sunniest part of the yard, although they will grow in partial shade.
Well drained, thrives on calcareous soil, sandy soil as well as rock gravel.
Can take considerable drought but must be irrigated for fruit production.
10-10-10 pellets in the fall and spring or any balanced organic fertilizer or well composted manure.
Pomegranate develop into round bushy small trees 6 to 8 feet tall except dwarf varieties ranging from 3 to 7 feet. Pomegranates in warmer, long season growing areas may be larger bushes up to 15 feet tall. Let 4 or 5 shoots develop evenly around stem the first or second year. For 3 years branches should be shortened to encourage new shoots. Pomegranate may begin to bear one year after planting.
When the fruit turns greenish pale or lighter color in the fall it's time to harvest. The interior separated by membranous walls harbor fleshy, juicy, red to pink edible grains. You can cut the hard shell in two halves and eat the grains or it can be squeezed like an orange. Pomegranate enters into the combination of numerous eastern dishes: stews, salad, spices, jellies and has a long history of medicinal uses.
In the 16th Century, the Spaniards carried some across the seas thus avoiding scurvy and it's syrup "Grenadine" has a global outreach.
By all means, acquire one pomegranate and plant it in your front yard, backyard, if not as a decorative as a ornamental edible for your health and the enjoyment of your children.
If you are in a colder winter area for transplanting pomegranate in the fall, it is our advise not to plant in the quart size until next spring after frost in May or June in your area. You may grow it indoors in a larger pot or protect it from temperatures below 25 degrees F in cool storage. If stored do not let it dry out. Our warranty does not cover winter kill on pomegranate when planted in marginal areas in the fall. If you must plant outside, chose a site protected from the wind and mulch around Thanksgiving to Christmas about 3" deep and about a 3' circle.