Monday , October 15 2018

Pomegranates

Pomegranates (Punica granatum) form small and ornamental trees or shrubs that will grow up to 2-3 m tall and 1-1.5 m wide. In warm climates they are evergreen but in cooler climates they are deciduous. For growing pomegranates as ornamental trees you will need an optimum temperature range of 18-25 Celsius degrees (64-77) but it might tolerate for short periods temperatures just below freezing. For having them fruiting they will need dry weather and high temperatures, ideally around 35 Celsius degrees (96 F). The globular fruits are up to 10 cm in diameter with leathery, yellow or red skins.

In temperate climates these trees are grown for their orange-red summer flowers and autumn color. There is a variety that will fruit freely under cover in temperate areas, Punica granatum var. nana. So living in a temperate area does not mean you cannot grow a pomegranate tree for its delicious fruits.

If your area allows you to grow pomegranates outside, choose a sunny spot, sheltered by windbreaks in exposed conditions. The soil can be a heavy loam one with a pH of about 7 as long as well drained. Most pomegranates cultivars are self-fertile. Plant seedlings, rooted cuttings or suckers at distance of 4-6 m apart each way. Once plants are established, apply them a general-purpose fertilizer every 2-3 months. Mulch the soil around them and keep it weeds free. In dry weather water the trees regularly. Remove all suckers to keep the tree in shape.

If you live in a cooler climate and are going to grow your pomegranates under cover, you will need to plant them in well-prepared beds or containers with a minimum diameter of 35 cm. Use potting compost with slow-release fertilizer added. Maintain the temperature at a range of 18-25 Celsius degrees (64-77) and a humidity of 60-70 per cent. Apply liquid fertilizer every 3-4 weeks and water the plants regularly. During the summer you can move outside plants grown in containers.

To maintain the plant in good shape and avoid it become too bushy, select 3 or 4 main branches to form a framework and remove any crowded or diseased branches. Also remove any suckers that are not required for propagation.

In regular conditions, a pomegranate tree will start fruiting after 2-3 years after planting. Harvest the fruits when they turn yellow or red, depending on your cultivar. Store the fruits for several weeks at 4-6 Celsius degrees (39-43 F).

Propagate pomegranates by cuttings or root suckers. Take hardwood cuttings and insert them in sandy compost. Place them in propagator with bottom heat until they have rooted. Softwood cuttings will also need bottom heat to root and regular misting. Use compost with neutral pH. Pot on both types of cuttings into 10-15 cm pots when they have rooted. To propagate from suckers, carefully remove them from the parent plant and replant them. To propagate from seeds, dry them off and sow in pots or trays of seed compost maintaining a temperature of 22 Celsius degrees (72 F).

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