Growing pomegranate trees can be rewarding to the home gardener when optimal conditions are met. However, it can also be alarming when all your efforts result in your pomegranate not bearing fruit. Let’s take a look at some common reasons for no fruit and how to get a pomegranate to set fruit.
The pomegranate, an ancient fruit, is getting a bit of resurgence in popularity due to the recent discovery of its high amounts of antioxidant. The pomegranate has been widely cultivated for thousands of years in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia, and has been written about in the Old Testament and the Talmud of Babylonia.
A symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt, the pomegranate is well suited to these arid climates, disliking humid conditions and overly cold temperatures. Today, the pomegranate is grown for harvest in the drier areas of California, Arizona and Texas.
Punic granatum (from the French name pomme grenate, meaning “seedy apple”) is an apt name for the pomegranate fruit. The pomegranate fruit contains over half its weight in seeds and, like an apple, has a long storage life (about seven months when properly stored). Under its red leathery skin, the seed is surrounded by sweet tart pulp and juice.
The seeds are separated by a tough white membrane referred to as the rag. The pomegranate seeds can be eaten after separating from the rag or pressed to extract the delicious juice, which is commonly used in grenadine mixed with other juices or drunk on its own. But what happens when there are no pomegranates on trees and, thus, no seeds or juice to extract?
This deciduous bush typically grows from 12 to 20 feet (3.5 to 6 ) tall and nearly the same in spread. Some patience is required when growing a pomegranate tree, as it takes five to seven months for fruit to become mature and the tree itself needs two to three years before it bears more than a couple of fruits.
In addition, the pomegranate tree loses its vigor after 15 years or so, although some cultivars may live hundreds of years. The fruit of the pomegranate is harvested from October to January.
Some pomegranate trees are strictly ornamental and are grown for their striking flowers, which bloom from late May until fall. Five to seven crepe-like flowers hang in a cluster from their urn-shaped calyx and range from brilliant red to orange or white. Attractive to hummingbirds, the blooms may be single or double flowering; however, the double cultivars rarely produce fruit.
When fruit production is the desired goal, make sure you are planting a fruit bearing cultivar. Plant in USDA Zones 8-10. Fertilize the pomegranate tree in March and July with a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) in the amount of 1 pound (454 gr.) per 3 feet (91 cm.) of plant height, and maintain an evenly moist soil.
Once established, the pomegranate tree is a low maintenance plant; however, there are a couple of things to watch for with a pomegranate not bearing fruit.
To set fruit, the drought tolerant pomegranate requires additional irrigation and fertilizer. They appreciate a soil pH of 5.5-7 and as is common with most plants, will benefit from a layer of organic mulch. To achieve higher production levels of pomegranate fruiting, plant in full sun.
Pomegranate trees tend to sucker and divert energy away from fruit production, resulting in no pomegranates on trees. Prune lightly on a regular basis, but do not cut back too severely, which can affect fruit outcomes.
As mentioned, the pomegranate tree is most vigorous in warm, dry climates. In USDA Zone 7, the bush will generally survive the winter, but damage may occur when ground temperatures drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pollination is another possible reason for a pomegranate not bearing fruit. Plant two or more pomegranate trees to encourage cross-pollination and be sure to plant in full sunlight to foster fruit setting.
Native from the Himalayas westward to Iran, pomegranate trees (Punica granatum) appreciate intense heat in the summertime as well as exposure to abundant sunshine. In the U.S., grow pomegranates in acidic, neutral or alkaline soil across U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 7 through 10. Although these shrubs or trees tolerate drought, they will flower and yield more fruits if the well-drained garden soil is moist. Aside from moisture level, there are several other factors that impact the flowering--or lack of flowering--in a pomegranate tree.
What causes the blossoms of pomegranate to fall off?
This can happen for a few reasons. The most common is too little water. Another reason could be poor pollination and then poor fertilization of the soil could also cause problems with the flowers.
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Yes, when you are looking at a tree that can live for over a century, 6 years isn't really that long of a time.
It could also be that the pomegraates of today are hybrids (as in humans may have messed with them) rather than natural crosses or cultivars. Kind of like how, in many cases, avocado grown from seed will not produce fruit.
What the rabbit said - they'll fruit, eventually.
All named varieties of pomegranates(and virtually all fruits, for that matter) were just seedlings at some point in time. They just grew through their juvenile period and reached fruiting age before someone selected them for their fruit quality.
Most pomegranate varieties are propagated from cuttings - it's a form of. cloning(gasp!) that's been practiced for thousands of years.
Hybrids? No, so far as I'm aware, they're all the same species, Punica granatum. Just because someone might cross pollenate, say, Wonderful with Parfianka, the resulting seedlings are NOT hybrids - just seedlings with two named-variety parents. Will all of the resulting seedlings produce top quality fruits? No, but some will have a 'genetic advantage' in that arena and may express desirable traits inherited from both parents.
Human involvement in plant breeding and selection is not inherently 'evil'.
wizzard, seed-grown avocados WILL fruit - if you provide them the proper growing conditions and allow sufficient time for them to reach fruiting age fruit quality(as with most seed-grown fruit) will largely be unpredictable.
If you want your pomegranate bush or tree to produce fruit there are certain things you can do to help facilitate this process.
First, before getting into any details, there are two basic types of pomegranate plants: fruit bearing, and flowering. Both types will produce flowers but only the fruit bearing varieties will produce fruit. So, make sure that you didn’t purchase an ornamental tree or bush grown only for its flowers!
Secondly, there are many varieties of fruiting pomegranate on the market these days. Though some are more cold hardy than others, most varieties are hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7 to 11. That being said, before purchasing and planting a pomegranate make sure that you choose a variety known to be cold hardy in your area.
If you have a proper fruiting variety and are in the right USDA Hardiness Zone, but your tree has not produced fruit, read anf follow the guidelines below and you should be harvesting an abundance of fruit.
Pomegranate prefer as much sun as you can give them, however light shade is tolerated. Six or more hours of sun a day is necessary to produce fruit. Just keep in mind that the more shade there is the less flowers and fruit will be produced. Some varieties will get mildew if planted in too much shade.
The difference between pomegranates and many other fruit trees is the wide range of soils in which the pomegranate will grow. From heavy clay, black loam, lime rich soils, dry rocky hillsides to sandy soil, the pomegranate will grow almost anywhere. They grow best in fertile, deep, loam soil that is rich with humus, as do most other fruit trees. As many other types of plants require, pomegranate prefers a well-draining soil. Constantly soggy or wet soil can cause problems with their roots. Brief periods of flooding won't cause problems provided the soil is well-draining. If you live in an area that can experience long rainy periods it's best to plant pomegranate on raised beds or mounds. I do this in my landscape due to the heavy clay soil that tends to hold a lot of moisture during the winter season or extended periods of wet weather. Regarding soil pH, they will grow in moderately acid to moderately alkaline soils that range from 4.5 to 8.2 on the pH scale. That being said, they thrive and produce best between 5.5 to 7.2, where most average garden soil fall between anyway. They are considered salt-tolerant, but accumulation of salts in the soil in excess of 0.5% is harmful, though this is way above what the average gardener will find. If you live in an area that has high salts in the soil or water, plant the pomegranates on raised beds so the salts can drain away.
Unless you have a very sandy soil, pomegranates need very little fertilizer. That's why you shouldn't grow your pomegranate in a lawn area where it will most likely receive too much fertilizer.
The only element pomegranates really need is nitrogen, and how much is applied will depend on the age of the plant. Don't fertilize pomegranates at all during their first year of life. Apply about 2 ounces of nitrogen per plant during the second year in spring, immediately after pruning. Each year therafter you can add another ounce. By the 5th year 6 to 8 ounces of nitrogen per tree. A mature tree of 15 years needs about 12 ounces (3/4 pound) of nitrogen per year. These figures are actual nitrogen. No bag of nitrogen fertilizer is 100% nitrogen. So you'll have to do a little math. If your nitrogen fertilizer is 34% (Ammonium Nitrate 34-0-0) your fertilizer contains 34 pounds of nitrogen per 100 pound bag, 17 pounds per 50 pound bag, 8.5 pounds per 25 pounds, 4.25 pounds per 12 pounds, 2 pounds per 6 pounds and so on. Fertilizer should be applied in late winter, before new leaves begin to emerge in spring.
Alternatively, instead of using commercial fertilizers I simply use mulch and compost. Mulching plants with composted manures and other organic composts can supply the nitrogen that pomegranates need while eliminating the possibility of burning plants. I also apply two cups of bonemeal and maybe a half a cup of Sul-Po-Mag.
Keep in mind that too much fertilizer is bad, so it's better to apply less than more. Too much fertilizer will cause heavier foliage growth, which can effect fruit production and even cause the fruit to drop prematurely. Applying too much fertilizer or applying it later in the year than recommended can cause fruit to mature late, and have poor color and poor taste quality.
Pomegranates are native to hot dry climates and, when well established, will thrive with little attention to water. That being said, to produce good fruits they will need water. On average, to produce good fruit, pomegranates require about 45 inches of water per year either from rainfall or irrigation. How much or little you water will depend on several factors including how much rainfall occurs and soil type and drainage. Pomegranates can stand very dry air conditions but, to produce good fruit, they need some moisture in the soil. In general, when growing on loose, sandy soil pomegranates will require more water and more fertilizer. When growing in heavier clay-based soils that retain more moisture plants won't require as much supplemental water. From flowering to harvest it's best to water only enough to keep the soil moist, but not constantly soggy.
NOTE: If for some reason you cannot water during dry periods don't worry too much, the plants should survive. Just don't expect as much fruit.
Pruning can be important to increase yields and to keep your pomegranate bush or tree bushy and strong. I suggest pruning a pomegranate for at least the first three years of its life to get it to branch and put out new growth.
Pruning is best done in late winter or early spring, right when they begin to put out a few new leaves. At this time, prune off the tips of all the outer stems. Just clip off the outer four to six inches or less. On older, more well-established trees cut back a foot or two all over to make it branch and be bushier.
Feed immediately after pruning.
Pomegranates are self-fruitful but the blossoms must be pollinated for it to bear fruit. If your fruit bearing pomegranate blooms but bears no fruit, this could be an indicator that there were no bees or other pollinating insects around when it bloomed. In order to become fruits the flowers must to be pollinated. Whether or not you see bees it's a good idea to use a sable paint brush to pollinate the flowers yourself. Just play like a bee and go from flower to flower spreading the pollen from one to another.
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On Nov. 9, 2010, I attended a Houston-area meeting of the Gulf Coast Fruit Study Group, where pom expert Richard Ashton gave a pom presentation. My sketchy hand-written notes include his statement: "Some varieties can't handle high humidity in early Spring. These don't set fruit. These are desert fruit." The fruit set here on the dozen mature poms varies a lot from year to year, despite having loads of flowers each year.I have Mae, Cloud, and (not so) Wonderful.
I doubt the humidity thing is as critical as the variety and age of the bush.
When I lived in Osaka, Japan, a very humid Zone 9 climate, I remember many large pomegranate bushes that would get loaded with fruit.
Even the tiny "nana" pomegranate bonsai I keep on my windowsill sets the occasional fruit, although this was not the case the first year or two.
In my experience, pomegranates tend to flower most profusely after a dry spell or some other stressful period, and perhaps less so under constantly favorable conditions, in which case they favor green growth.
Exactly, fabaceae. But, it could possibly also be due to very high humidity and a variety that does not tolerate such high humidity? Poms are a very interesting species - they have become very well adapted to the different areas they originated from, and have a widely varieable toleration for soils, moisture, temperature and other climate variations. Plus, being just about pest-free and providing a fruit that contains just about the highest amount of anti-oxidants of any fruit, they are a fruiting plant everyone should have in their garden! Maybe kumquat1 can let us know what variety she has, and then we can help them to figure out if this is a variety that will perform well in her area, or if it is jus due to being a wee bit on the young side.
Well, here is the long story: I bought a plant with a tag that had FW Pomegranate on it from a local nursery. After it flowered and flowered and never made fruit, I decided FW might have meant 'flowering', don't know. I moved off from it. Now my niece is having the same difficulty with one she bought at Home Depot labeled 'fruiting tree' (as opposed to "flowering tree"). I have always wanted one, and a co-worker dug up a whip for me. It is still alive after a month. Her tree is many years old of unknown variety. She said many seedlings have come up around her old tree, and the only one that fruits is the very top of one that has grown up over the roof and gets a lot of sun. Local nursery owner said today that gypsum would help it hold fruit.
Well kumquat I may be wrong about this but it sounds like you are saying that your coworker gave you a pom whip from a sprouted seedling? I thought poms were supposed to be propagated from cutings. That may be the problem right there. Who knows what you get with a seedling, not surprising if it's sterile. If you want to be absolutely sure you are getting something like the parent plant it is better to go with a cutting.
Thanks, I may go ahead and just buy one. What variety would be the best in humid, hot sandy area such as this?
I want a full-size tree. Dwarf seems too small for me.
Just Fruits and Exotics in Florida has poms in containers, see link.
One Green world has fruiting poms bare root, a little less expensive.
Here is a link that might be useful: Just Fruits and Exotics
I grow Salavatski and Kazake here in Pennsylvania. The Salavatski started flowering in its 2nd year in the ground and set a crop, it has been bearing for the past 3 years and although it's humid in my area it's sets a crop. It also took cold temperatures below zero.
There are many varieties that will set many flowers and don't set a crop. Some of them are double flowering, will never bear.
Ahhh, the one I abandoned was double-flowered.
I planted a beautiful pomegranate tree 4 years ago from a reputable nursery, tagged "Wonderful" and the seller stated it would set fruit immediately. It never has, and the flowers are thick, ruffly, and carnation-like. Does anyone have a double-flowering pom that actually sets fruit? It has grown and thrived so well, I'm sick that we don't get fruit, but will replace it if we must.
Is there any way to tell if your pom will ever bear fruit? I just moved into a house that has a beautiful pom in the side garden with TONS of flowers at the moment. I have no way to contact the previous owners and the neighbors are new so they know nothing about it either.
I am experimenting myself with pomegranates here in Florida.
If you want many different varieties I would say try and order from these people: http://greenseafarm.com/page.php?typ=13
I actually drove out to them since it was less than shipping cost for 9 varieties I wanted to try out.
Their prices are pretty good, they have tons of different varieties and they pretty cool to talk to. Seemed like good and interesting people.
I just bought them this winter so no results to report yet.
I also bought one from Lowe's that was labeled as "Wonderful".. this is it's second year in the ground. I had a developing flower couple of weeks ago but it either got git by a branch or just broke off itself. So no flowers for it either.
There are couple of other nurseries around Florida that have quiet a few varieties but I can't remember them off my head. They should be on the UF (University of Florida) pomegranate website.
Kumquat1, your pom is having pollination issues.
You could fix this problem by hand pollinating each flower I had this problem with my own heirloom pom tree--it won't produce fruit unless I hand pollinate every flower.
Or get another variety to ensure cross pollination.