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baby pomegranate tree  RSS feed

 
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I had somebody give me a clipping from his pomegranate tree - about 6" starter that had already rooted.
One of the branches has grown to just over 24".
Should I clip it down to closer to 12" so that it can give more energy to growing the trunk?
Or is that too much? Maybe cut off 3-4" for now, and 3-4" in another 6 months?
Or will clipping it then stunt the overall growth that limits its size?

I'd like the tree to maybe end up at about 6-7 feet eventually, but that would be after planting in the ground.

Greg

pomegranite-Sept2018.jpg
[Thumbnail for pomegranite-Sept2018.jpg]
Baby pomegranate tree
 
Posts: 1645
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Let it grow for two years then start 'pruning'
 
pollinator
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Location: Australia, Canberra
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Can a pomegranate tree trained like an apple tree with a main trunk and canopy on top?

I usually saw them growing like a bush, thick and spiny.

Mine is on its second year and already growing with 4 thin branches. I want to get rid of the 3 and train the main branch up. Would that be possible?
 
S Bengi
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Gurkan Yeniceri
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Thank Bengi, I will start training :-)
 
pollinator
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Yes, you can train a pomegranate tree to stand upright with a single trunk.  It takes a lot of attention, but its doable --- I've done it.

Pomegranates tend to sucker heavily from the base.  You need to repeatedly cut those suckers off or you''ll quickly have a multi-trunk tree.  I clean my tree up at least 3 or 4 times a year.

They get top heavy and flop over, even without fruit.  You'll need to stake it and continually pull it back to vertical.  If a stake isn't enough to keep it upright, then attach ropes and yank it back to vertical. 

Prune the fruit AGGRESSIVELY.  I remove all but one bloom, and that fruit is close to the trunk, not the end of the branches.  If you don't, the heavy fruit will pull the branches down and the tree will tilt toward the heaviest side.  I thin the blossoms by aggressively cutting back the branches to leave only one blossom (or one blossom cluster, of which I thin away all but one blossom).  I continue to do this all summer because the tree will continue to flower for months.

In the winter, get a step ladder and thin out the center branches of the tree.  Leave the main scaffolding branches, but open up the heart of the tree.  I have one central vertical trunk that goes up about 15' or so, and then about a dozen main branches that come off of it.  It's taken years to get this structure, and every year when I'm up there thinning the tree out again, I question, "Is this worth it?"  But now that the fruit is huge and ripening and accessible, I remind myself again that all that hard work of thinning the tree and thinning the fruit is worth it.  Long, leggy "water shoots" tend to shoot up and then flop over once they are a couple of feet tall.  You've got to decide what to keep and what to remove, or just what to shorten.  Again, it's an ongoing process.  After 10 years or so, you won't have to be so aggressive, but initially when you are forming the primary tree structure, it's an ongoing battle.

One other benefit of training your pomegranate to grow with a central trunk rather than multi-stem is that it makes dealing with ants so much easier.  If you keep the branches from dropping down onto something else (like a fence or another tree where it creates a bridge for the ants) and you keep the tree to only a single upright trunk, then you just put a band of tanglefoot around the trunk and it keeps the ants from the fruit.

If that were my baby pomegranate tree, I'd transplant it to a bigger pot, stake that little shoot upright with a 4 foot stake, and begin training it to be the primary trunk.  In two years, it'll be ready to go into the ground.  Pick any fruit off of it for the first couple of years—there will be plenty to go around in 3 years or so. Pomegranates grow really fast.  Focus on tree structure and keeping it vertical and straight.  They are squirrelly trees --- make it mind!  In the end, you'll be glad you put in all that effort.
 
gardener
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I was wondering why it was worth going to the effort of forcing a shrubby/bushy plant into monotrunk/tree form until I got to the answer about ants, which does make sense in conditions where the trees grow easily.  However a bunch of us here are Permies are trying to grow pomegranates at the extreme northern edge of their climatic range, where (a) they do not grow fast at all, and (b) they often freeze back to the ground in their early years and come back from the roots.  All of the successful mature "trees" I know about here in Central Oklahoma (I guess I should say "both of them") are more like tall copses than trees; they look a bit like bushy crepe myrtles inasmuch as they have a bunch of small stems coming out of the ground in a dense circle about three feet in diameter, with a total tree height of twelve or fifteen feet.  But my young trees are only growing six or seven inches a year, and they do indeed want to keep popping new shoots.  Given how precarious they are, it seems prudent to let them grow how they want to grow.  I'm sure it's different where they are growing securely but I wouldn't have the courage to prune them severely in this environment, I don't think they can spare the vigor as young plants.
 
Marco Banks
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That makes sense --- I don't have to deal with frost here.  Our tree continues to grow year after year off the same old wood.

Frankly, I like the clean look of a straight upright tree.  My dear wife will stand at the kitchen window, and when a tree starts to lean, I can just see it in her body language: she'll tilt her head a couple of degrees, cross her arms, tilt her head back again, and then say, "Someone needs to put a rope on that tree and yank it back to vertical."  It just sets her on edge when a tree isn't growing straight, so I dutifully go out there an pull the tree back to upright and straight status.  The pomegranate has always been my biggest challenge, and it doesn't help that that's one of the main trees she sees directly from the kitchen.

Other reasons to keep a single vertical leader other than ants:

It's easier to prune branches and thin fruit with a single trunk.  Ongoing tree maintenance is much easier when there is space between the branches and even horizontal branches that I can stand on when I'm reaching up into the tree.  Following from that: how many pomegranates can you really use?  We give away so many of them, juice so many of them, and eat a bunch, but even after aggressively thinning the fruit, we always have way more than we need.  These things are bigger than a softball—volume wise, it's a tremendously productive tree.  Every year I make it a goal to thin it so that we only keep 50 or so fruit, but inevitably, there are upwards of 100, and they are still huge.  So many end up on the ground.  At least the chickens like that but they are stinky once they begin to ferment.

Best of luck growing this tree in a non-sub-tropical climate.
 
Dan Boone
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Marco Banks wrote:My dear wife will stand at the kitchen window, and when a tree starts to lean, I can just see it in her body language: she'll tilt her head a couple of degrees, cross her arms, tilt her head back again, and then say, "Someone needs to put a rope on that tree and yank it back to vertical."  It just sets her on edge when a tree isn't growing straight, so I dutifully go out there an pull the tree back to upright and straight status.



This made me laugh out loud.  It may not be the most logical reason for a orchard management decision but it's definitely the best reason.  If the wife isn't happy with what she sees from her kitchen window, there's only one thing to be done, and that's to go out and fix it -- whether or not it was ever broken!


Marco Banks wrote:Following from that: how many pomegranates can you really use?  We give away so many of them, juice so many of them, and eat a bunch, but even after aggressively thinning the fruit, we always have way more than we need.  These things are bigger than a softball—volume wise, it's a tremendously productive tree.  Every year I make it a goal to thin it so that we only keep 50 or so fruit, but inevitably, there are upwards of 100, and they are still huge.

 

By observation of the one productive tree in my town (which is on a rental property, and I don't think anybody uses the fruit or tends the tree) the utter lack of pruning or tree care lends itself to many hundreds of fruit being produces that are much smaller -- more like tangerine to baseball sized.  I have never been able to reach or contact anybody for permission to take cuttings or pick the fruit, but I've picked up a few fruit that reached the sidewalk and street (thank you, squirrels and crows!) and they are still tasty at that size.  The one thing I've read about doing with a huge fruit surplus is juicing and then boiling the juice down into a pomegranate molasses, which is a product I've seen for sale as a super-premium gourmet ingredient.  I imagine it's delicious, too.

Sadly at the speed my trees are growing I'm not sure they'll be productive on any great scale in my lifetime, assuming they even survive.  But I live in hope.  I've had other fruit trees here noodle along for four or five years doing next to nothing before exploding in growth, so maybe these will go like that.
 
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