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Ripe pomegranate growing on a pomegranate tree

How to grow a pomegranate tree

Can pomegranates be grown successfully in the UK? Find out, in our Grow Guide.

  • Plant size

    3m height

    3m spread

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is an ancient fruit native to Persia, now known as Iran. It bears apple-sized, pink fruit containing masses of juicy pink, sweet-flavoured seeds known as arils, used in Middle Eastern dishes and salads. It’s an attractive tree, with glossy foliage and funnel-shaped, orange flowers that last throughout summer. Pomegranate fruits form at the base of the flowers and ripen in autumn.

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While typically associated with warmer climates, some pomegranates are hardy down to -15Cº, so it’s possible to grow them in the UK. However, as they thrive in long, hot summers, they may need a little protection to encourage them to fruit successfully in our climate.

How to grow pomegranates

Choose a hardy cultivar, like ‘Provence’, which has been bred to thrive in the UK climate. Grow in a sunny, sheltered spot in fertile but well-drained and alkaline soil, or in a large greenhouse or polytunnel for a more reliable chance of fruit. Prune only to remove dead or damaged material and mulch annually with well-rotted manure or compost.


Where to grow pomegranates

Pomegranates growing on a pomegranate tree

Grow pomegranates in a sunny, sheltered spot in well-drained, alkaline soil, with a pH level of up to 7.5. Bear in mind that you will have a much greater chance of fruit if you grow your tree in a large greenhouse or polytunnel, as the fruits ripen in autumn and require more heat than is usually available in the UK at this time.

There are some dwarf varieties of pomegranate available, which are suitable for growing in pots. If growing in pots, choose a good quality, peat-free and loam-based compost. Then, to encourage ripening of the fruit, you can simply move the tree to a warmer spot in autumn, if necessary.


How to plant pomegranates

Most pomegranates are available as potted trees, which is your best option in the UK climate as they will be mature and will start fruiting straight away.

  1. Dig a square hole, no deeper but slightly wider than the depth of the pot, and fork the sides to ensure roots can penetrate them
  2. Remove the tree from the pot and tease out any compacted roots, then check that it sits at the right depth in the hole – the top of the rootball should sit at the same level as the top of the hole
  3. Once you’re happy with the depth of the hole, plant your pomegranate tree and back-fill around the rootball with soil
  4. Use your feet to gently firm the soil around the root ball and add more soil if necessary. Water well

How to care for a pomegranate tree

Pomegranates are hungry trees, so mulch annually with well-rotted manure or compost to maintain soil nutrient levels. If growing in pots, scrape away as much of the top layer of compost from the pot as possible, and replace with fresh, peat-free, loam-based compost.

Pomegranates are self-fertile so you will not need a pollination partner to encourage fruit development.

It’s usually not necessary to prune pomegranate trees, although you may need to remove dead, broken or crossing branches from the tree, as well as any suckers from the base. If you do prune to maintain a particular shape or size, remember that pomegranates fruit on old wood, so avoid removing too much.


How to harvest pomegranates

Ripe pomegranate on the tree, revealing its juicy arils. Getty Images

Pomegranates need heat to ripen. To check if your pomegranate is ripe, first look at its colour –unripe pomegranates remain green, while fully ripe fruits are pinky-red. Ripe fruits also have a rough texture and are plump and heavy with juice.

Harvest ripe pomegranates with secateurs.


How to propagate pomegranates

It is possible to grow your own pomegranate tree from a seed saved from the fruit, but it will take many years for the tree to reach maturity, and you will not be guaranteed a fruit crop. Pomegranates can be grown from cuttings, however, and if you take a cutting from a fruiting tree then you will have a greater chance of successfully raising your cutting to grow fruit.

  1. Take pomegranate cuttings from new growth in spring, around 25cm in length. Push into moist, free-draining soil and cover with a clear plastic bag or propagator lid to maintain humidity
  2. The cutting should root within a few weeks, when you will be able to pot it on. Keep in a greenhouse until it’s established
  3. Bear in mind that, even with a tree grown from a cutting, it will take at least five years for it to bear fruit.

Growing pomegranates: pests and diseases

Pomegranates suffer from very few pests and diseases.

In the greenhouse or polytunnel, fine webbing on the leaves could be red spider mite, which thrives in a dry environment.

Insects around the tips of leaf and flowers shoots may be aphids, which are not usually a problem but can build up in greenhouses and polytunnels.

Advice on buying pomegranate trees

  • Choose a cultivar that has been bred for growing in the UK, for the best chance of fruit
  • Dwarf cultivars are more suitable for growing in pots, which can be moved under cover in autumn, to help ripen the fruit
  • Always check the tree for signs of damage or disease before planting

Where to buy pomegranate trees

Pomegranate varieties to grow

1

Punica granatum ‘Provence’

One of the hardiest pomegranates, it can tolerate temperatures down to -15ºC if grown in a sheltered spot. It’s also suitable for growing in pots, so can be moved undercover in autumn, to help ripen the fruits. Height x Spread: 3m x 1.5m.

2

Punica granatum ‘Dente di Caval’

A popular pomegranate, suitable for growing in a sheltered spot or large greenhouse, conservatory or polytunnel. H x S: 3m x 3m.

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