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Plant Profile: Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

A native Iran and Iraq, the pomegranate has been grown since ancient times and is mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, Homeric hymns, Egyptian mythology, and the Quaran. It is widely cultivated for the juicy seeds of its fruit in warm dry areas of Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe, and South America. It is commercially important in California and Arizona but can be grown in cooler areas of the United States as far north as Washington, D.C. although it will not bear fruit there. In spring, the glossy green fine-textured foliage provides an attractive background for the red-orange showy flowers borne singly or in clusters of up to five. In the fall, the foliage takes on a reddish or bright yellow tint as the large round fruits appear. The plants are shrubs or small trees and are extremely long-lived, up to 200 years old.

Fruit Description: Almost spherical with tough, leathery, pink to red skin; interior divided by thick, cream-colored membranes into segments filled with a seed surrounded by a sac of tart juice; seeds can be eaten or squeezed to make juice.

Fruit Availability: September through February

Plant Size: 10-20’H x 8-15’ W

Light: Full sun

Soil: Deep loam, well-drained, pH 6.5-7 but tolerate less

Fertilizer: In late winter or early sprig apply a complete fertilizer such as 16-4-8

Hardiness: Zones 7-11 (but may not produce fruit in colder areas)

Care: Can be pruned to produce a single or multiple trunks by pruning suckers accordingly. Once established, prune lightly to maintain shape and remove suckers, damaged stems and to open the canopy. For maximum fruit production, remove small fruits leaving one on every 6-8” of stem.

Pests and Diseases: Leafrollers and mites can be controlled with Neem oil.

Propagation: Seed; hardwood cuttings; air layering of suckers

Outstanding Selections:

    ‘Wonderful’ (extra large fruit, juicy and sharp flavor, ripens in September)
    ‘Grenada” (more colorful than ‘Wonderful’).

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