Growing the Desert Garden

Welcome to the Desert Garden, with garden coach Tyler Storey, where we talk about everything having to do with gardening and landscaping in the Desert Southwest. From composting to Cercidium and agaves to arugula — we'll cover everything you want to know to grow your own beautiful Desert Garden.

Monday, June 23, 2008

From the Inbox: More Pomegranate

From a Correspondent:

I bought a pomegranate tree about 3 1/2 years ago, it is now about 6 feet tall, it has beautiful red flowers right now and no fruit. The tree goes dormant in the winter. Will it ever have fruit? If I buy another pomegranate tree what kind should I buy? I like the traditional fruit.
Whittier, Calif.

Good morning Lisa,

Pomegranates can sometimes be a bit slow to grow and fruit, but once it reaches three years in the ground and 6 feet tall, I would expect a fruiting pomegranate to be bearing. You don't mention whether the flowers are single or double; if they're double, then it's likely that you have a fruitless variety, but some single-flowered types are also fruitless, so that's not an absolute.

As you know probably better than I, the area around Whittier has an interesting climate. While you're heavily influenced by moderating maritime conditions, you also have a certain amount of more extreme weather coming from the inland areas. In the areas more heavily influenced by cooler coastal conditions, even fruiting pomegranates will often fail to set fruit; it really depends on the microclimate.

Since you like the traditional fruit, buy a variety called "Wonderful" from a reputable local nursery. There are seedling-grown pomegranates that may have the same flower appearance without the same fruit characteristics, so buying from a local nursery that you trust is key.

I suspect you'll find that your current plant is a beautiful but sterile variety and that "Wonderful" will produce the kind of fruit you want. At the worst, you'll have twice as many beautiful flowers as you do now.

I hope this helps,



Anonymous said...

I have a 15 foot pomegranate tree that has now gone completely bare, with some dead, small, fruit on it, and I'm wondering if its dead or dorment. I did a little trimming. Some end branches are brittle, but some still have green. I watered and then a rain came. But I think in general I under water. it came established with the house I just bought. I love in mount washington near down town los angeles. If anything, what can i do to save it?

Tyler Storey said...

Hi Sonja,
Some good news: pomegranates are dormant right now, and that's probably what you're seeing; even living pomegranate branches are somewhat brittle. As the days start to get longer and the temperatures warm up, you'll begin to see new growth on the tips and along the branches. In the absence of good rain, water deeply after growth begins, but not too often. For the best fruit formation, don't go for long periods without water, but don't let the plant sit with "wet feet" either. An established, 15-foot tall pomegranate should be a pretty tough and worry-free plant. I hope this helps,