Pomegranate - How to Prune Landscaping and Fruiting Pomegranate Trees

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The Pomegranate (punica granatum) is a deciduous tree or large shrub, which should be pruned at the end of its dormancy, i.e. towards the end of winter. In general, the method for pruning trees differs with ornamental plants as opposed to those grown mainly for their fruit. As Pomegranate is both a beautiful landscaping tree and one that has delicious and nutritious fruit, the dilemma facing the gardener concerns the type of pruning to adopt.

Pruning Trees for Fruit

Commercial fruit tree growers prune their trees by shortening main branches. The purpose is to induce new spring growth, from which develops more numerous flower buds and thus more fruit. The farmer is also interested in making the harvesting process cheaper and easier, which he does by periodically lowering the height of the tree.

The trouble is that this method is often imported into the ornamental garden, to which it is largely unsuited. The reason for this being that shortening branches disturbs the natural shape and flow of the tree, leaving behind an ugly stump, from which sprout a group of stems. It may be right for the farmer, interested primarily in maximizing yields, but not for the ornamental gardener, concerned with the appearance of the landscape plants.

Pruning Pomegranate Trees for Landscaping

In order to preserve the natural look of a tree, instead of shortening branches, whole limbs are removed to the trunk or larger limbs. This pruning method applies just as much to the Pomegranate, with its natural, arching, vase-like form. The habit of pruning branches short simply ruins the Pomegranate as a decorative specimen.

To reduce the tendency of the plant to become thick and messy, it is possible to thin out some growth in the center, especially those stems that crisscross into each other. In addition, stems that grow too close to the main branches can be removed. It is wise though to retain, some of the stems that sucker from the base, as the Pomegranate looks best as a multi-stemmed tree.

Getting the Best of Both Worlds

Is it possible then to have your beautiful ornamental tree and eat its fruit at the same time? The fact is that the wild species, (punica granatum) attractive as it may be, does not produce fruit in many garden situations that is nearly as tasty as the cultivated varieties such as "Wonderful", "Sweet", or "King". It's really up to you. If you're just interested in fruit yields, you can prune the plant as would a farmer.

This solution is best avoided in most home garden situations as to adopt it is to miss out on all the fabulous aesthetic qualities that the Pomegranate offers. For in addition to its attractive form, it has spectacular leaf color in the fall, (at least where the temperatures are low enough) beautiful, bright green foliage in the spring, and of course showy flowers and decorative fruit.

By pruning your Pomegranate as you would any other landscape tree, you may get less fruit, but the plant as whole will give you far more pleasure throughout the year.

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Jonathan Ya'akobi

Your Personal Gardening Coach

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