Pomegranates are actually grown on bushy shrubs that can reach 20 feet in height. The unique fruit is colorful and tasty. Providing you live in a warm, dry climate, there is a good chance you can grow pomegranates, maybe even year round.
The pomegranate has thorns and is deciduous, which means it sheds its leaves. There are ornamental versions which are beautiful because of the showy orange-red flowers that festoon the tree. Ornamental varieties produce only a few small fruits each year. Fruit-bearing trees produce mature fruit between July and November.
Left alone, the pomegranate is naturally more like a shrub. “Trees” are not grown as much as they are shaped. This is accomplished through an intensive pruning and maintenance program. The bushy appearance is created by the sucker growth and shoots that sprout from the crown. These have to be removed as soon as they appear. Next, the tree is given a scaffold shape, consisting 2 to 4 main horizontal branches coming off the main stem or trunk. The scaffold shape allows air flow and light penetration, necessary for good health. It also allows easier access to the fruit at harvest time.
The pomegranate prefers tropic, subtropic or sub temperate climates. In spite of this, the pomegranate is surprisingly cold tolerant. Many varieties can withstand short spells of 18 degrees while a few particularly hardy varieties can tolerate 10 degrees without serious harm. This sturdy plant is also tolerant of a wide variety of soil types only requiring that whatever type it is be well-drained. It can handle a small amount of flooding but prefers sunny, dry locations. It requires a thorough watering every 7 to 10 days if there has not been adequate rainfall.
Pomegranates require relatively little fertilizer as long as soil conditions are good. Young trees should be allowed to establish themselves before adding fertilizer. Young trees between the ages of 3 and 5 should only get about 2 to 3 pounds of a general fertilizer with an 8-8-8 NPK ratio applied in November and again in March. The same formulation can be applied older trees at during the same time frames but they require up to 4.5 to 6.5 pounds of fertilizer.
Pomegranates are naturally dense bushy plants. Too much fertilizer can aggravate this and results in premature leaf drop. It can also negatively affect the color, size and taste of the fruit. Because of the increased leaf production, the tree will then sometimes prematurely drop all its fruit. If you are unsure about whether or not to fertilize your pomegranate, have a soil sample tested at your local extension office. This will determine if you have any soil deficiencies and suggest ways to correct the problems.
Sources: Texas A&M: Home Fruit Production Pomegranate
University of Florida: The Pomegranate