Growing pomegranates at home has many advantages. Not only do you get to enjoy a beautiful tree, with large attractive flowers, but you also get to pick and enjoy delicious ripe fruits at harvest time. Pomegranate trees require pruning twice a year to keep them in good shape and to prevent any problems from arising. We’ll take a closer look at how to prune a pomegranate tree in this article.
What You'll Learn Today
- How Do You Prune A Pomegranate Tree?
- When To Prune A Pomegranate Tree?
- How To Prune An Overgrown Pomegranate Tree
- How Tall Does A Pomegranate Tree Grow?
- How Long Do Pomegranate Trees Produce Fruit?
- How To Revive A Pomegranate Tree?
How Do You Prune A Pomegranate Tree?
Pruning begins early in the young pomegranate tree’s life and will continue as it grows into a mature specimen. Good pruning at an early age really helps to shape the tree the way you want and keeps the tree healthier and more manageable.
First Pruning of a Newly Planted Tree
If you live where winters are mild and you’d like to grow a tree as opposed to a bush, look for the strongest-looking shoot. With a disinfected pair of pruners, cut off all the other shoots at their base leaving only your selected “trunk”.
If you live where winters are colder or you want to grow a bush rather than a tree, then select five or six healthy-looking shoots that are branching out nicely in an open cone shape away from each other and remove the rest.
The reason for leaving several shoots if you live in a colder area is to reduce the danger of a single one being killed off by the cold. Leaving several gives you more chance of success.
Next, shorten each shoot so it’s around 24 inches in length. Again, ensure you clean the blades of your pruning shears first and between each cut. Try to cut just above an outward-facing bud, if possible, at a slight angle.
As the tree or bush grows over the summer, remove any suckers that appear at the base by twisting them off with your fingers while they are very young. If they are too hard to do this, cut them off cleanly with some disinfected pruning shears as close to the base as possible.
Pruning in Year Two
In late winter, just before the new growing season begins and all danger of frost has passed, prune out the thin twigs growing from the main branches, but leave the best three to five to develop. Choose ones that are growing in an open shape and that don’t cross others. They should not be growing downwards.
Always try to cut just above outward-facing shoots, as this encourages an open tree or bush shape and allows for better air and light circulation.
During the summer, as in the previous year, twist or cut off any suckers or water sprouts coming from the base of the tree as soon as you see them. Using the twist-off method helps stop more growing and can help the tree heal faster.
Pruning in Subsequent Years
In the third and subsequent years, cut out any crossed or very close growing branches, and dead or diseased wood in the late winter, or early spring after the last frost.
Continue to remove suckers and water sprouts as you see them.
In this video, you can see all about pruning your pomegranate tree:
When To Prune A Pomegranate Tree?
Pruning of your pomegranate tree is best done in late winter or early spring while it is still dormant, but just before new growth begins. This allows the wounds you create to heal over the spring and summer months.
How To Prune An Overgrown Pomegranate Tree
If your pomegranate tree has been neglected for some time and has become overgrown, you may need to give it an extra hard haircut.
Luckily pomegranate trees tolerate hard pruning well and you can even cut out a large, badly diseased trunk and allow suckers growing from the base to re-establish the tree into a healthy specimen over the coming years.
Start by removing all dead, diseased, crossed, or closed branches in late winter. Ensure you always sterilize your cutting tools before doing this and ensure they are sharp.
Wiping the blade with some rubbing alcohol between cuts will help prevent you from spreading disease.
Always cut or twist off suckers and water sprouts that grow over the summer unless you need some suckers to re-establish healthy growth.
You can top the tree so it stays at a good height for fruit harvesting.
When your tree fruits, note which branches are less productive and consider removing them when you next prune. Cut them off as close to the collar as possible. Remember that by keeping less productive branches you are robbing those which are healthier of nutrients.
If branches are hanging close to the ground, shorten them so the fruits don’t end up in the dirt, as this will cause them to spoil.
How Tall Does A Pomegranate Tree Grow?
Pomegranates come in a huge range of varieties from dwarf to standard types. Some grow to over 20 feet in height, while others are ideal for growing into low, bushy shrubs.
The smaller cultivars make your pomegranates easier to harvest and prune. Examples of very compact varieties are Nana or State fair, which only reaches five to six feet in height. The only downside is that their fruits are also small.
A good variety that stays quite low is Wonderful, it can reach eight to twelve feet and has a good yield of extra-large fruits which will ripen from early fall.
Granada is another example, growing to less than fifteen feet. It also has the advantage of being quite cold hardy and has deep red fruits that are less tart.
If left to grow naturally, pomegranate trees take on a bushy shrub appearance with many suckers. It is only with careful pruning that you can develop the tree in the way you wish it to appear.
How Long Do Pomegranate Trees Produce Fruit?
Young saplings grown from cuttings or grafts may flower and even produce one or two fruits in their first year, although it is far more typical for them to be two or three years old before they become productive.
They will continue to grow increasing numbers of fruits until they reach around 15 years of age at which time, they often become less productive.
However, there are pomegranate trees in Europe that are over 200 years of age.
How To Revive A Pomegranate Tree?
Lots of things can happen to affect the health of your pomegranate tree. Old age, insect infestation, fungus, or storms can damage the trunk and it may often seem that this is the end for your tree.
However, because pomegranates are so good at producing suckers from very low down on their main trunk, it’s possible to use these to save and rejuvenate the tree.
They will tolerate you cutting the trunk off right down to the ground, providing there are suckers that are in good health and there is not a lot of root damage.
Such a drastic measure should only be done in early spring before the new growth has started. This causes a prolific growth explosion and by selecting the largest, healthiest shoots the following spring and removing the rest, your tree can go on to produce fruit once more.
Just as with other types of fruit trees, pomegranates do best if they are trained when young. If you live in a cooler area then you may be able to grow a tree against a south-facing wall and train it into a fan shape along wires.
Other options include pruning it into a shrub or bush shape or as a tree with a single trunk.
The cultivar you choose and the weather conditions in your area will dictate to some extent how you prune your pomegranate, as generally, shrubs are better for colder areas, while trees will thrive in warmer climates, especially when young.
You can even bring an old, diseased pomegranate tree back to health with a very hard pruning by removing all the dead and diseased wood.
To learn more about pomegranate trees take a look at our other articles.