The Complete Guide to Growing Pomegranates – Retail
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Hedge it, use it as a feature plant, or grow it in a pot – the pomegranate is a diverse and hardy must have! PlantNet brings you two fantastic pomegranates: Red Velvet™ and Midnight Velvet™. These varieties are tried and tested Aussie backyard favourites perfect for salads, juicing, or a healthy snack! While there’s still some mystery about growing this foreign fruit in Australia, we’re here to step you through our simple to follow Guide to Growing Pomegranates.
The Best Place to Plant your Pomegranate
Pomegranates grow best in areas where they have direct sunlight at least 6 hours per day. It’s important to choose a spot that receives this amount of sunlight in winter too, as pomegranates do best in warm, sunny environments. If you live in a colder region, try planting it on the northern side of your house to maximise light and warmth. If you have your pomegranate in a pot, you can easily move it closer to the house so that it receives some radiant heat from the walls.
Planting them in well-draining soil is a must. Placing your pomegranate tree in damp soils will promote root diseases and potentially kill your plant. Aim to plant your tree on the side of or at the top of a slope. If you have a flat backyard, consider building a mound or a raised garden bed to increase drainage for your pomegranate, or use a pot!
5 Steps to Planting Your Pomegranate
- Test your soil. Remember: your soil is unique. Ensure you test your soil before changing anything! A simple ribbon test and pH test are a good start. You need to do this six weeks before planting your tree.
- Work with your soil. For general soil conditioning, use organic material, such as manure and compost. Dig the organic material into your soil before letting the site rest until you are ready for planting.
- Get digging. Before planting, dig a hole twice as big as the root system. Ensure you loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole.
- Place your plant. Place your plant in the hole and backfill with well-draining soil. The soil should come up to the height of the pot. If potting up in size, level the new soil level with the soil level of the previous pot. Use premium potting mix combined with perlite (alternatively you can use pine bark, or sand) at a 90:10 ratio (you can skip using perlite if you live in a hot, dry environment). See below for what your mixture should look like.
- Mulch your tree and pull out a hose! Mulch the surface of the soil with any type of mulch, sugar cane, wood clippings, and straw are good options. Water your plant in deeply with a seaweed solution to promote healthy root growth.
When Do I Fertilise My Pomegranate Tree?
There is no need to fertilise pomegranates immediately when you plant it. The best time to start is in the last week of winter, ready for spring. A good fertilizer to use will have an approximate NPK ratio of 14N-5P-22K, and you should be able to find this at your local garden centre. If you’re using a 6 month fertiliser, you will need to fertilise again in Autumn – so jot it down in your diary!
Yellowing leaves can occasionally be a symptom of a hungry pomegranate. You can try to remedy this with a fast acting liquid fertiliser.
All fertilisers should be watered in well after application.
How Often Should I Water My Pomegranate?
Winter & Autumn: Pomegranate trees prefer a moderate watering regime – that is, they don’t need it every day, but they can’t be left without it. In autumn and winter, you should water your tree at least once a week even in dormancy – this is because it is difficult to raise the soil moisture levels fast enough after winter if you cease watering altogether.
Take care not to overwater during dormancy as this will surely put your pomegranate at risk of root disease. Remember to adapt to local weather conditions and cease watering completely if it rains more than once a week. This is a good standard for both planted and potted pomegranates.
Spring & Summer: In spring increase your watering to twice a week. In summer water your plants 2 to 3 times per week. Stay conscious of local weather and adapt your watering schedule to accommodate for rainfall or hot dry periods and your soil conditions. For potted pomegranates, check the top 5cms of potting mix for moisture before watering – if there’s any moisture, don’t water!
Your pomegranate fruit may split with too much water or inconsistent watering during late fruit development. You can avoid this by reducing your watering but remaining consistent as fruit is almost ripe. Thankfully, split fruit is still edible!
Common Pests and Diseases of Pomegranates
- Aphids, who will attack young shoots and leaves which appear as twisting or curled new growth.
- Scale, who are often visible as white, yellow, or dark ‘disk’ shaped invertebrates on the stems. You should be able to remove them from the stem easily with your fingernail. The first sign of scale is normally ants travelling up and down the stems, farming scale.
- Queensland Fruit Flies (QFF), who will cause fruit to look cracked and yellowing.
There are plenty of treatment options for these pests:
- Aphids detest water and can be sprayed with your hose for removal, or you can use a horticultural oil.
- Scale is also easily treated with horticultural oil – you may need to do this multiple times. You will also need to control the ant population, which you can do using many products available at good garden centres.
- To control QFF, set Fruit Fly Traps in and around your tree, and use QFF Netting where possible.
Pomegranates generally have few disease problems. The most common disease in pomegranates is root rot, often caused by over-watering, which can be difficult to control in periods of high rainfall. Be attentive to how fast your soil dries and base your watering schedule around this.
Pomegranates can also suffer from black rot that affects fruit, and collar rot that affects the trunk. Keep mulch away from the trunk to avoid collar rot and avoid water stressing your pomegranate during fruit development (follow the watering tips above!).
Being a Mediterranean shrub, pomegranates love hot, dry places. By replicating this as best as you can, you’ll have no problems with the above diseases!
Learn more about common fruit tree pests here.
Should I Prune My Pomegranate?
Pomegranates can easily be trained to a single trunk, with four or five main branches selected for the framework of the plant. They will sucker, which should be removed when noticed.
Pomegranates generally don’t require much pruning. Any pruning completed should focus on removal of dead and tangled branches, and maximising airflow through the centre of the bush. Moderate pruning is best done in winter when the pomegranate tree is dormant.
Try not to remove too much of the tree – only remove up to one third of the tree in a year!
When do Pomegranate Trees Fruit in Australia?
Pomegranates will be ripe in late summer to autumn in most parts of Australia. Allow the fruit to ripen completely on the tree because they don’t ripen on the kitchen bench!
Pomegranate fruit stores well – one to two months at room temperature (25⁰C), or longer in the fridge.