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The grocery store is full of pomegranate products - juices, energy bars, teas, sparkling waters, jams and, in the fall, fresh pomegranate fruits. Did you ever consider growing your own? This botanical delight has been woven into regional dishes and banquet delicacies, folklore, Biblical texts and myths from Persia, throughout the Mediterranean, Armenia, Northern Africa and India. Eventually, pomegranates made their way to America with Spanish explorers.
If you live in a warmer part of the country, have a greenhouse or are blessed with a big, sunny window pomegranates could extend your fresh fruit options. Pomegrates flower July to September and fruits are ready to harvest in the late fall.
Choose a site in full sun. In warm regions, zones 7-9, feel free to plant outdoors. These plants prefer sites with lower humidity. Consider that your mature pomegranate will grow to 10 feet tall and about 8 feet across; select a site with appropriate space. It's also possible to keep a pomegrate at 6 to 7 feet tall with pruning.
If you're growing your pomegranate indoors, choose a full sun window, one that receives 8+ hours per day. These plants originated in sunny, dry regions and need lots of light.
Outdoors, look for a site with soil that drains well. If there are still puddles several hours after a rain, scout out another spot. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12-15" and turn in a bucket of compost before planting and mix well.
If you're planting your pomegranate in a large pot, use any good commercial potting soil. It's ideal to allow your pomegranate to summer outdoors, if possible. If this is an option, think about weight as you select a container for your plant.
Plant any time during the growing season. As with most plants, a transplanted pomegranate will need regular watering outdoors for the first couple of weeks, especially if moved during summer's heat. Indoors, your tree may need a bit less moisture. Strive to keep the soil very slightly damp but not wet. Consistently wet soil encourages root rot.
Loosen the soil to 12-15” deep. Plant your pomegranate so the soil level from the pot is even with the level in the planting hole, in other words, don't sink or raise the plant. When you remove the grower's pot, tease out the roots a bit but don't wash the original soil off the roots before planting.
Pomegranates need 1-2” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two during the spring when they are actively growing, spring through fall. While pomegranates are drought tolerant once established, they benefit from regular watering when first planted.
For pomegranates planted outdoors, adding a winter mulch the first season will help mitigate temperature swings. Straw or bark chips work well. Keep the mulch 4" away from the plant to avoid having moisture held by the mulch promote disease on the trunk. Pomegranates typically go through a winter dormancy period where leaves are shed and growth stalls. With spring warmth and longer days, fresh foliage develops and the trees move into a period of active growth.
Pomegranate trees grown indoors need to have a winter rest period. When the leaves begin to drop in mid to late fall, reduce water and move the pot to a cooler spot. Direct sun is not needed at this point because the plant is not actively growing. Allow the plant to rest for several months. Water very lightly during the dormancy period, just enough to prevent the soil from becoming bone dry. In March, move the tree out to a warmer, brighter site and water once generously. Tiny leaves will begin to appear and as they grow, provide a little more water each week. Allowing pomegranates to enjoy the summer outdoors helps support normal seasonal temperture and sunlight needs.
Light: Full sun
Soil: Average well-drained soil; enrich with compost
Depth: Plant container level with garden soil
Water: Average moisture
Uses: Whole, fresh fruits, juices or other - use your imagination
Tip: Fresh grown pomegranates rival store-bought, anyday
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