Pomegranate Tree

W are so excited, our pomegranate tree at Booyong is flowering!

The flowers caught my eye in the orchard when I visited in October; as you can see from the picture they are so bright and beautiful. I had not expected this tree to provide fruit for some time so I was pleasantly surprised. It also has lovely glossy green foliage which turns yellow in Autumn.

They are typically expected to flower in late Spring and into summer and fruit will take 5-7 months to mature which would be March-May. Fruit can be picked prior to maturity and will ripen in storage and can be stored for several months if hung in a cool aired place. On an established tree and in optimal conditions 40-50kg of fruit can be expected.

They prefer high temperatures and with hot weather will develop rich colour and flavour. Perfect for the hot dry summer’s we have here at Booyong. They like full sun and are drought resistant but prefer water, especially during spring to improve long term growth and fruit set. Though excessive rainfall may cause soft fruit and attract disease. Annual rotted manure or compost is beneficial and they can tolerate a wide range of soils (ph 5.5-7) but need good drainage. Fully grown trees will benefit from one or more applications of fertilizer each year.

The pomegranate is a deciduous small tree/shrub that can grow 4-7 metres. Fruit comes on mature wood so the tree benefits from a light prune in winter to encourage growth and prevent crowding in the centre. A stake may be required until the stem becomes strong and three-five shoots from the upper half of the plant should develop the main frame. Suckers from the base of the tree should be removed. To support a well-established tree we will prune this one and not permit it to fruit until it’s 2-3 years old. I always find this difficult but it is in the plants best interests’ long term and will result in a stronger tree and better yield for the future. We will also continue to thin out the fruit over the next few years and not allow two pomegranates to touch each other to reduce pests.

At Booyong we are learning about Permaculture principles and companion planting to attract beneficial insects (like bees), repel predators and contrast beautifully with the beauty of the tree. Purple passionfruit flowers and jasmine would look lovely. Nasturtiums will also repel aphids which can damage the tree and flowers like lavenders, chives, daisies will attract ladybirds and lacewings to eat the aphids.

The pomegranate originates from the Middle East and its scientific name (Punica granatum) translates as “seeded apple”.

The thick skin protects flesh full of tender and edible seeds that are juicy and pop in your mouth, they are lovely and refreshing. Seeds are used as a garnish in Middle Eastern Food and salads. The juice can be used in juices, cocktails or to make grenadine. Dried seeds can also be used as seasoning in dahl and chutney. The Rind of unripe fruits and flowers can also be used for dye.

Propagation can be done from seed – pre soak in warm water overnight and plant 5mm deep. It can also occur from hardwood cuttings taken in winter that are 15-20 cm long, this will result in an identical plant. If growing in a hedge use 2.5m spacing and if in an orchard plant 5-6 m apart. Orchard planting is generally considered the best option. The pomegranate can also be grown in a pot and used as an ornamental plant.