September 14, 2023
The Searles Gardening Team
Pomegranates are becoming a prevalent plant to grow at home, they are mainly grown for the wondrous juicy fruit, but in the cooler regions, they can be purely grown for decorative displays.
They tend not to fruit well in cooler areas; even in warmer regions, it may take several years to bear fruit. There are several varieties of pomegranates, and they are deciduous, but in the warmer regions, they may be considered semi-deciduous. Pomegranates are grown for delectable edible seeds and are stored well in a dark, cool area in the pantry.
When established, this tough plant can withstand droughts, frost, and a range of soil types, if planted in free draining soil. Pomegranates are often described as a small tree or large shrub and can grow over 5 metres, and dwarf varieties are available, growing half the average height of the standard varieties. Aside from growing them for their fruit, they have been used as hedges or screens, as their suckering habit (if their roots are disturbed) forms a thick windbreak.
To achieve the best results from your pomegranates, plant them in a soil rich in organic matter. Improve the soil before planting with Searles Soil Improver and do not dig heavily around the roots when adding to this. Regularly fertilise with Searles Fruit & Citrus Food and follow the directions according to whether it is grown in the garden or pot. If you choose to grow in a pot, use one at least 50cm or larger in diametre, as it will grow into a large shrub. The more the roots are disturbed, the greater the chances of the plant suckering is. You will be waiting for the plant to bear fruit for several years, but it will flower in late spring and into summer, though it will not develop into fruit. When they are mature enough to bear fruit, they develop very slowly, and it will not be until autumn that their skin colours indicate harvesting time. They flower and fruit on the mature branches so keep up regular watering until the fruit is ready to harvest. Be aware they are not a fruit to be picked early, as they stop ripening in the traditional sense once harvested. If it is a wet season and the fruit is left on the plant too long, the fruit will split.
Pruning helps keep the plant to your preferred size and do so in winter. Generally, keep the pruning light as it is the mature branches fruits develop on. In the spring, place another layer of compost around the plant, but do not dig it in, as this will disturb the roots and cause suckering.
The usual pests and diseases suspects do affect pomegranate. Scale, mites, thrips, aphids, mealybugs, and fruit flies can attack the plant. Exclusion netting or bags are an excellent way to protect the fruit and set fruit fly traps. If you see ants on the stems, you will generally find scale, aphids, or mealybugs on the new growth when you watch them closely. Spray these with Searles Ecofend, Searles Bug Beater or Searles White Oil to keep them in check.