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Pomegranate bark peeling off

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Hi everyone!

I’m fairly new to trees, and learning more by the day.
I just bought a pomegranate tree and only found out after buying that its bark is peeling of in some places. In those areas where it scales off there’s a kind of silky web...
Any ideia on what it could be and what I should do?

Many thanks!
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Posts: 1460
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Yeah, they do that.  Pomegranates lose their bark in flaky chunks.  Not to worry.

As for the insect activity you note, that's unrelated.  If it's a spider that's spinning that web, he's our friend.

OK -- if you're new to pomegranates, let me offer you a couple of thoughts.

1.  They don't want to be a tree -- they want to be a bush.  You can, however, train them to be a tree with persistence and regular pruning of suckers that sprout up from the base of the tree.  Keep only one vertical trunk and continue to cut off any new growth from the ground.

2.  You must thin and thin ruthlessly.  Both branches and fruit need to be thinned on a regular basis.  This is a good time of year to clean up half the branches within the body of the tree and open things up.  Every branch that you cut out will reduce the amount of fruit you need to thin off the tree.  The new fruit is easy enough to snap off the branches, but you've got to get out there and get it done before the tree wastes too much energy toward all those blossoms.  

3.  Thin the fruit off the ends of the branches and only leave one or two pomegranates on each branch that are closer to the tree trunk.  That way the branches don't hang down so low as the fruit gets heavier and heavier.

4.  Wear gloves.  You probably already have experienced this -- the ends of every branch have a little poker on it.  Long sleeves are also smart.

5.  Other than ants, pretty much nothing bothers a pomegranate tree.  No need to spray ever.  Water evenly throughout the warm months and your tree will reward you with big softball sized fruit.

Best of luck.
Joana Soares
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Hi Marco,

So many thanks for your reply. You can't imagine how happy and relieved I was to read it!

I really, really appreciate all your advice.

1) I fell in love with this one because it seems to be well trained as a tree. However I did notice a few suckers coming from the roots. Actually, they were sprouting from the compost around the base. If I prune them to the "ground" (which I assume will be some distance to the actual root) does it do any effect?

2) What do you mean by: "The new fruit is easy enough to snap off the branches". That it will be heavy and break the branches?

5) Very interesting that you mention this (=ants). Here I go on my story (I'll try to make it brief).
We have been rebuilding a house with a backyard (it will be our first one). I was never good with plants but always loved the feeling of being in a forest. As this house has two outdoor spaces, we bought a few trees but were ill advised by the architect (who said trees will adapt to a space... and there I was, buying 7 trees, one of them a Liquidambar, for a 35 sqm and a 49 sqm place). When I started reading (clever of me, to do it only after that emotional purchase)
I realised we wouldn't be able to plant them safely and started daydreaming about having a farm. And here we are, almost finishing construction works, having decided we're selling that house and buying a huge land instead. That'll lead me to other stories, for which I'll also need advice. But trying not to get lost, let's get back to the ants.
For the first house, we bought an old (and quite expensive) pomegranate tree in a container. This was before I did any reading at all. I started reading because once it arrived at the house I noticed there were a few (too many!) problems.
The most evident, apart from terrible, terrible!, pruning, was a family of happy red ants. It was fascinating finding out how they herd aphids around.
So, here are my questions:
- We transplanted the tree in late january. However, it's been really warm and dry in Portugal. Trees were blossoming everywhere, as early as february. The tree needs some serious pruning, but since the transplant is recent, should i leave it be for next year? I already cut dead and broken branches.
- What about the ants? I don't think it's so much as preventing them going on the tree as they actually already live there (because they came from the nursery with it). Any thoughts on what I should do?
- When we bought the tree (october) it had 3/4 fruits. Very small ones... Could this be because of the terrible pruning and it being in a container?

I'm also curious about some kind of tunnel on the tree's bark. Could it be some kind of catterpillar?
I'm attaching the pictures in the following reply.

Joana Soares
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I almost feel embarrassed for such a bad looking tree....
I forgot to say I also removed the root suckers.
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Marco Banks
Posts: 1460
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Is it still productive?  Looks are over-rated ---- just ask my dear wife who still loves me and keeps me around.  As long as that old tree is still producing good fruit, I wouldn't get too uptight about the looks.

But you may wish to start a new one in the years to come in order to be ready when your old tree finally gives up the ghost.  I get volunteer pomegranate trees growing all over every year.  I'm sure that you do as well.  Just dig one up, pot it, and nurture it for a couple of years.  When it's time to take out the old tree, you'll be good to go.
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