Pomegranate – Punica granatum

A sunny window, conservatory or greenhouse will suit the Pomegranate, and in warm areas of the south and west it can be grown outdoors in a sheltered position.

Plants grown in a greenhouse can sometimes be encouraged to produce fruit, given correct temperatures. The skin of the ripened fruit is leathery and the sweet, red juicy flesh contains numerous seeds.

The plant is a deciduous tree or shrub that is clothed in glossy, dark green to golden-green leaves. New growth is a coppery colour at first and the bright tubular flowers are flaming scarlet.

In its natural habitat the Pomegranate can reach a height of 4.8m (16ft), but container-grown plants grow to about 2m (6½ft). Dwarf forms can be only 90cm (3ft) tall.Pomegranate - Punica granatum

Colours and varieties One of the most popular forms for growing in a window is the variety Punica grana turn ‘Nana’. It is a little hardier than the type. Double-flowering plants are also available and include ‘Fiore Pleno’, which has red flowers.

Propagation

Growing from seed

1 Sow seed in March in a propagating tray. Use good seed compost and keep at 16°C (61°F).

2 When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into another tray. Grow on until they are well-established and then transfer individually to 8cm (3in) pots.

Taking cuttings Propagating from cuttings is the more usual method of increasing your supply of Pomegranates. Do this in spring or in July.

1 In spring, take cuttings about 5cm (2in) long. Plant in equal parts peat and sand and cover with a polythene bag in which you have made a few holes. Keep the cuttings at a temperature of 16°— 17°C (61°-64°F).

2 In summer, use cuttings with a heel from half-ripened side shoots and care for them as described for spring cuttings above.

3 When the cuttings have developed a good root system, transfer to 10cm (4in) pots. Pinch out the tips of the shoots to encourage healthy bushy growth.

Looking after your plantPomegranate - Punica granatum 2

Grow your plant in a 23cm (9in) pot of well-drained, soil-based compost and stand it in a sunny position. You can put it outdoors for the summer in a warm, sheltered spot. Water generously and make certain that plants grown indoors have good ventilation (this also applies in winter but do not expose the plant to draughts or cold air).

In winter, water only enough to keep the compost moist. Repot in March or April every second year. Begin to feed in May with a solution of liquid feed diluted in water.

Plant Problems

The Pomegranate is generally a healthy, robust plant but it can be attacked by a few common pests.

White woolly tufts on the leaves and stems are mealy bugs.

Treatment: These pests are more difficult to eradicate than aphids. Remove them with a cotton bud dipped in diluted methylated spirit. Repeat as necessary and check plants regularly for re-infestation.

Poor growth is usually a sign of aphids. Treatment: Spray small plants with a gentle stream of tepid water. Larger plants should be sprayed with a mild solution of soap and water. Repeat a few days later with plain water to rinse the soap away. In both cases, spray the undersides of the leaves.

PLANT CARE

This plant is easy to care for as long as it is watered regularly. Prune and thin out prior to repotting it in the spring.

  • Potting: Use a well-drained, soil-based potting compost. Repot every 2 years in March or April.
  • Water generously from spring until the autumn and sparingly in the winter, keeping the compost just moist.
  • Feeding: Feed every 10-14 days from May—September with a weak solution of a standard liquid fertilizer.

GROWING CONDITIONS

  • Light: The plant thrives in full sun. If growing outdoors in summer, place in a sheltered position against a south-or west-facing wall.
  • Temperature: It needs a minimum of 17°C (64°F) in the summer. In winter, keep at 5°-7°C (410— 45°F). If grown in a greenhouse, maintain a temperature of 13°-16°C (55°-61°F) in late autumn; this will encourage the plant to fruit the following year.

The Pomegranate is perhaps best known for its fleshy fruit, concealed inside a hard rind. Yet it makes a striking house plant that is covered with bright flowers in the summer.

When to buy

  • Pomegranate plants are available in spring and summer from garden centres and nurseries, although you may have to try a specialist.
  • Choose a well-shaped plant with lots of healthy flower buds.
  • Properly cared for, most varieties of Pomegranate will live for many years.

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