How To Grow And Care For Pomegranates

Their tasty seeds make this plant perfect for edible landscaping.

Pomegranates On Tree

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A familiar fruit in the Bible, pomegranates have been cultivated since antiquity. These are long-lasting, drought tolerant plants when established. They also are very malleable. They can be grown as trees, shrubs, or hedges; cropped into bonsai or wired into espaliers. There are dwarf forms for containers and ornamental types grown primarily for flowers. Grown in full sun, they will flower in the summer and fruit in the fall. Although the flowers are self-fertile, it is best to grow several of several varieties if high fruit production is the goal. The flowers support bees and hummingbirds. The fruit is known for its juicy “seeds” that are tasty as well as nutritious. 

Plant Attributes

  • Common Name: Pomegranate
  • Botanical Name: Punica granatum
  • Family: Lythraceae
  • Plant Type: Shrub, Tree
  • Mature Size: Dwarf can be 36 in. tall, 36 in. wide; tree form can be 20 to 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Soil Type: Well-Drained Soil
  • Soil pH: Neutral Soil pH
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Flower Color: White, Pink, Red, Orange
  • Hardiness Zones: 6-10 (USDA)
  • Native Area: Mediterranean, Middle East

Pomegranate Care

Even though commercial pomegranate fruit production is in California, these plants can be grown for fruit in the South. These plants will thrive in Zone 8 – 10, and there are some cold hardy cultivars that can be grown in Zone 6 and 7 with protection. These are full sun, woody plants—great for edible landscaping

There are many cultivars as well as heirloom types that have done well in particular areas for years. It is best to find one that is known to thrive in your area. Contact your local extension office or edible plant nursery for recommendations. Usually, one purchases a hardwood stem cutting or a potted plant to plant in the beginning of the growing season. 

Close up of a Blooming Pomegranate

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They are fairly easy to grow, but it does take a few years for the plant to mature to produce fruit. In the beginning, they have to be pruned to be shaped into a tree or shrub form. They sucker (i.e., produce shoots) so the plant has to be “shaped” for the strongest branches to support it. The plant should also be fertilized for the first few years.

When mature, they will need an annual pruning to remove suckers but should not need fertilizer. Once established, they are drought tolerant. However, for best fruit production, make sure the soil moisture is consistent. Like tomatoes, strong fluctuations between wet and dry periods will adversely affect the fruit.  

They need well-drained soil, and although they are native to warm, arid areas, they are known to be successful in the humid South.  


Pomegranates need to be grown in full sun, at least 6 hours a day. 


Although they are tolerant of poor soil, they must have well-drained soil. This is important if grown in a container – the container has to have drainage holes. 


Immediately after planting, water well. As plants grow, water at the base of the plant, not overhead. Water in the morning, not in the evening. Although they are drought resistant once established, you may have to water to ensure good fruit production.

Temperature and Humidity

Pomegranates flourish in warm, arid areas. They can be grown in warm, humid areas but may have more fungal issues.


Usually, plants are fertilized in their first few years of growth, and then it is not necessary to fertilize unless growing commercially for heavy fruit production.  

Types of Pomegranates

There is a wide range from short to tall; red, pink, or yellow fruits; clear, red, pink, or yellow seeds; and soft, semi-soft, to hard seeds. There also are varieties that have been selected to be cold tolerant and there are varieties that seem to do well in the south’s humid summers. And there are the ornamental varieties that are grown for their flowers. Note that some have thorns on the branches.

Standards Grown for Fruit

  • Ambrosia: Very large fruit, possibly largest, with pale pink skin and tart red seeds.
  • Angel Red®: Relatively new variety with vivid red fruit, soft seeds, and a high juice content. 
  • Granada: Large red fruit that ripens earlier than Wonderful, in August, and is less tart.
  • Utah Sweet: Pink fruit and pink, very sweet, soft seeds. 
  • Wonderful: The most popular and widely planted pomegranate variety in the United States because is the variety grown in California for the POM Wonderful brand of juice and seeds. Large, red fruit with tart, hard seeds.

Standards Grown for Fruit with Higher Cold Tolerance

These are good choices for Zones 6 and 7 with winter protection. Usually, these can survive temperatures down to 5°F.  

  • Afganski: Red fruit and does well in the southeast, tolerates humid summers. 
  • Salavatski: Has deep pink, semi-soft seeds, one of the best southern pomegranates.
  • Parfianka: Red fruit and pink, soft seeds.
  • Kaj-acik-anori: One of the best tasting varieties because of high sugar content. 
  • Nikitski-ranni: Also called Crimson Sky. Tolerates humid weather. The light pink fruit resists cracking and has red seeds.   

Dwarf Varieties That Bear Edible Fruit Too Small To Eat 

  • Nana: 2 to 3 feet tall, orange-red flowers and red fruit.
  • State Fair: 5 feet tall, orange flowers and red fruit. 
  • Purple Sunset: 5 feet tall, orange flowers and purple fruit.
  • Peppy le Pom™: 3 to 4 feet tall with orange flowers and pale red fruit.

Ornamental Varieties Grown for Flowers, Not Fruit

These are about 10 feet tall, and hardy to Zone 7.

  • California Sunset: Flowers are white and coral colored and double flowered.
  • Toyosho: Flowers are apricot colored and double flowered.
  • Noshi Shibari: Flowers are red colored and double flowered.


When growing pomegranates for fruit, the plants can be pruned to be a single trunk tree or a multi-trunk tree. The single trunk plant has a short trunk, about one foot tall, with several major branches while the multi-trunk has three to six strong branches coming directly from the ground. To develop one or the other, just remove all but the strongest suckers in the winter when the trees are young and dormant. To maintain the shape, prune unwanted suckers (and any dead branches) in the summer every year. Keep in mind the weight of the fruit (bearing down on branches) and how one will harvest the fruit.

Plant Propagation

Pomegranates can be propagated from stem cuttings to create clones, in order to maintain the desired characteristics. However, most plants at the garden centers are trademarked cultivars so it is best to check first. Home gardeners can either take softwood cuttings or hardwood cuttings. Commercial nurseries usually propagate and sell hardwood cuttings. A hardwood cutting is done when the plant is dormant in winter and softwood is done when the plant is growing in the summer. 

For Hardwood Cuttings

  1. In the winter when the plant is dormant, cut stems about 10 inches long and about ¼ to ½ inch in diameter. 
  2. To keep track of which end is up, cut the bottom of the stem at a 45-degree angle and the top straight across.
  3. Dip the bottom end in rooting hormone.
  4. Insert bottom end in an area in the garden in full sun, where the soil is well draining. If no such place exists, consider using a raised bed for better drainage.
  5. This area can be a temporary area that is best for drainage and then when the cuttings have rooted they can be moved to their eventual siting. 
  6. Insert about 2/3 of the length of the cutting in the soil so about three nodes are in soil, and several nodes are exposed or above the soil line (there should be no leaves).  
  7. Can plant several, just space about a foot apart. 
  8. Water well. 
  9. In the summer check to see if rooted.

For Softwood Cuttings

Complete same steps only do in the summer and remove leaves from the bottom of stem before inserting in soil. In the summer, containers can be used to initiate the rooting process as they should provide good drainage. 

How to Grow Pomegranates from Seed

It is possible to grow pomegranates from seed, but not purchased or commercial seed. You have to obtain seed from fresh fruit and the resulting offspring may not have the exact same characteristics as the parent plant.

Seeds can be sowed directly in the garden bed or container or started inside under lights in the spring.

To Start Seed Indoors

  1. In clean seed starting trays (with drainage holes), add moistened seed starting mix. Sow the fresh seeds and there is no need to remove the fleshy part. Press down for contact.
  2. Place under grow lights or fluorescent tubes, leaving lights on for 14 to 16 hours per day.
  3. The lights have to be adjustable. They should be only a few inches away from the plant. 
  4. Mist with water frequently so seeds do not dry out. It is important that they do not dry out when they begin the germination process because germination will stop if allowed to dry and the seeds cannot be “revived.”
  5. As the seed germinates and grow, may have to adjust lights to continue to be only a few inches away from the plant. 
  6. As the seedling grows, can water or mist less often because the roots have formed and are able to obtain water from a lower depth in the mix. 
  7. When true leaves have developed, the last spring frost has passed, and night temperatures are 50 to 55 °F consistently, can transplant outside into a slightly larger container.
  8. These seedlings should be hardened off before moving to the garden bed in this small container and this can take 2 weeks. 
  9. Harden off by putting the small containers in the shade first, protected from heavy rains and winds. Gradually move the containers to full sun, rain, and the rest of the elements so it is “hardened” to the elements. More roots should have formed. 
  10. Transfer the plant from the small container to the ground (just like you would if you had purchased the plant from a garden center).
  11. Water to establish the plants. 


When growing pomegranates for their fruit, select one that is hardy to your area. If it is marginally hardy then you may have to protect it in the winter with wrapping and mulch. When growing the dwarf types in containers, you may have to bring the containers indoors during the winter since the container is not going to provide much insulation. Place the dwarf varieties in an area in the house that is bright, as much sunlight as possible, and yet cool temperatures. 

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Pomegranates can get leaf or fruit spot caused by a fungus as well as fruit rot. There are fungicides that can be sprayed, and home gardeners should be aware of the impact on the pollinators.

Pomegranates may be attacked by mealybugs, scale, and whiteflies. To control whiteflies, spray the plants with insecticidal soap. To control mealybugs or scale, try neem oil or a horticultural oil. 

How To Get Pomegranates To Bloom

Red pomegranate flower in full bloom

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Both fruiting and ornamental types of pomegranates need full sun to flower. They flower on the previous year’s growth so make sure you do not prune those branches off. 

Common Problems with Pomegranates

Fruit Splits Open 

Sometimes the fruit splits open, but they are still edible unless they have rotted. This is caused by fluctuating rainfall—too wet then too dry. Even out the soil moisture by mulching and irrigating during dry periods.

Fruit Production Too Low 

If the fruit production is too low, first make sure that the plant is a fruiting pomegranate and not an ornamental one grown for flowers. Keep in mind that it takes about four years for a fruiting pomegranate to mature enough to produce an adequate number of fruit.  

If the plant is mature and is truly a fruiting pomegranate, then consider the sunlight the plant is receiving and pollinators. Increase the light by moving to a better spot or pruning away branches from nearby trees. Increase chances of pollination by planting more plants of different types. Although pomegranates are self-fertile, the chance of pollination increases with more than one tree of more than one cultivar.  Make sure you have enough bees in the area and are not spraying with chemicals that can harm them. Another option is to hand pollinate by brushing the flower parts with a small paint brush.


Are pomegranates really a super food? 

Pomegranates have been touted as a “superfood.” They are a rich source of antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and have anti-aging effects. Research shows that pomegranates are antibacterial, antiviral, and anticarcinogenic (slow the growth of cancer cells). Plus, they may help with arthritis. One fruit can provide almost 50 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C, as well as 19 percent of potassium, and Vitamin K, Iron, Calcium and Folate. The raw seeds provide fiber. It is now easy to purchase pomegranate juice as well as seeds extracted from the fruit but keep in mind the sugar content. 

How do you peel a pomegranate?

A whole fruit can be stored in the fridge for up to two months. To cut a fruit open, slice off the end of the fruit that is the stem end to make a flat surface. Put the flat surface on a cutting board, then cut around the blossom end to remove a “cap” and expose the seeds. Score the skin along each side of the segments and then pull the fruit apart to expose the seeds. The seeds can be pulled from the membrane tissue easily.  Some people do the pulling in a bowl full of water because this is messy, and the seeds can stain. The seeds sink and the inedible parts float so you can scoop out the floating parts and drain with a colander so what remains are the good seeds.  

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