Large Shrub or Small Tree: Punica granatum or pomegranate is a small deciduous tree usually around 5m tall to about 3m wide.. It has a slighty shrubby form of several main stems and a mildy suckering habit. Leaves are green, glossy and lanceolate, about 2.5 cm long. Growth is moderately fast and the plants are very easy to establish.
Flowers: tubular bright red flowers about 5 cm long, sometimes, according to the variety, double, cream or orange, July – August.
Fruits: Gourd-like globes about the size of a small orange ripen in October/November. A hard outer surface contains many pippy seeds covered in a ruby jewel like flesh surrounded by a rather bitter yellow membrane,
Drought tolerance: 4- see our post on drought tolerant plants for an explanation.
Full sun only.
Comment on Punica granatum
Punica granatum is one of the very best large shrubs or small trees for the drought tolerant gardener. It is virtually maintenance and pest free as well as having numerous attractive features. It is highly adapted to the Mediterranean climate having been cultivated across the region since antiquity and also as far afield as Japan, China, Russia and the Middle East. My favourite feature of it is that it looks green and lush even in the hottest, driest conditions at the height of summer.
In early spring, the young foliage is an attractive coppery brown and in autumn it turns a light clear yellow.
Perfectly timed for the drabbest time of year in the Mediterranean climate, the flowers are produced in succession in July/August. There are many flowering forms, double, semi-double and in shades of orange, cream or red. Indeed there are numerous hybrids, although to be honest for gardening there isn’t much to choose between them, apart from variations on flower colour and form. Although the flowers are attractive, they are not the main feature of the plant, it’s one of those packages of many good things.
Although Punica granatum needs no water, the fruits will be very dry and pippy unless the plant is given a good soak every 2-4 weeks. Of course you can decide whether the plant is for ornamental use or for fruiting and give water accordingly
The juice from the fruit is delicious mixed 50/50 with orange juice; simply halve the fruit and press on a lemon squeezer. The pure juice is slightly medicinal I find. Happily, juicing avoids all the fiddling with the very bitter membrane aqnd pips.
Punica granatum will grow in a wide variety of soils and is quite happy in a alkaline soil – no problems with chlorosis. Unless your soil is especially poor (e.g. very compacted or low in organic matter) I would not trouble yourself to amend it when planting; the plants will take well anyway.
Propagation is from hard wood cuttings, taken in autumn.
Punica granatum nana is the dwarf form and is attractive in containers or as edging. Height is only to 45 cm.