When I was a kid, I would often find a pomegranate in the toe of my Christmas stocking. Whether put there by Santa or Mom, pomegranates represented the exotic and rare, eaten just once a year.
Punica granatum, the pomegranate, is a tree that is native to Iran and India, hence thriving in hot, dry conditions akin to those found in the Mediterranean. While pomegranate trees are drought tolerant, they do need good, deep irrigation periodically – similar to the requirements for citrus trees. Not only is the plant grown for its delicious fruit (actually a berry), but it is cultivated for the stunning bright red flowers on pomegranate trees.
Pomegranates can be a bit pricey, so if you live in a climate that will support growing your own, you have a win/win savvy garden specimen. Although the tree is fairly resilient, it’s susceptible to several issues and one of them is pomegranate flower drop. If you are lucky enough to own a pomegranate tree, you may be wondering why pomegranate blooms fall and how to prevent bud drop on pomegranate.
There are a number of reasons for pomegranate flower drop.
Pollination – To answer the question of why pomegranate flowers fall off, we need to know a little about the plants’ reproduction. Pomegranate trees are self-fruitful, which means the flowers on the pomegranate are both male and female. Pollinating insects and hummingbirds assist in spreading the pollen from flower to flower. You can even help too, by using a small brush and lightly brushing from bloom to bloom.
Male pomegranate flowers fall off naturally as do un-fertilized female blooms, while fertilized female flowers remain to become fruit.
Pests – Pomegranate trees begin to flower in May and continue through early autumn. If your pomegranate flowers fall off in early spring, the culprit may be insect infestation such as whitefly, scale or mealybugs. Inspect the tree for damage and consult your local nursery or a recommendation regarding the use of insecticide.
Disease – Another possible reason for pomegranate flower drop may be due to a fungal disease or root rot. An anti-fungal spray should be applied and again, the local nursery can help with this.
Environmental – The tree may drop flowers due to cold temperatures as well, so it is a good idea to protect or move the tree if a chill is in the forecast.
Finally, although the tree is drought resistant, it still needs a good deep watering if you want it to produce fruit. Too little water will cause the blossoms to drop from the tree.
Pomegranate trees need to be mature to produce fruit, three to five years or so. Prior to this, as long as the tree is watered, fertilized, pollinated properly, and free of pests and disease, a little pomegranate flower drop is perfectly natural and no cause for alarm. Just be patient and eventually you, too, can be enjoying the delicious ruby red fruit of your very own exotic pomegranate.
Factsheet | HGIC 1359 | Updated: Jan 27, 2016 | Print
Ripe pomegranate fruit.
Karen Russ, ©2009 HGIC, Clemson Extension
Pomegranates (Punica granatum) have been popular fruit throughout human history and are experiencing a surge in popularity at present due to the health benefits associated with their juice. Widely grown for their edible fruits, they are equally valuable as ornamental plants. While their precise origin is unknown, pomegranates are considered native from the near-Middle East to the Himalayas. The first plants were probably introduced into the southeastern United States by early Spanish settlers to their colony at St. Augustine, FL.
Pomegranates have a long history of use in South Carolina. Plants are often found around old home sites and plantations, especially in the Midlands and Coastal Plain. They grow and flower well in most of SC, but tend to fruit poorly in our humid climate as compared to the warm, arid regions where they are particularly well adapted.
Rima is a yogaphile and a strong believer in all things natural, holistic and as tamper-proof as possible. After being the Beauty Editor of Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping magazines, she hung up her work heels to start a family and focus on a happy life. So she and her husband moved from the busy metro they lived in, to the foothills of the Himalayas. She now splits her time between writing for Basmati as well as other websites, raising her two boys and pottering around in her kitchen and kitchen garden. She is working on a few children's books on the side as well, inspired by Dr. Seuss and his marvelous writings. Her new line of children-oriented mobile applications Alphabetastic has just come on the market!
Pomegranate plants are prized for their blooms and fruits here’s how to get the best out of them…
The good thing about pomegranates is that they are healthy and bursting with antioxidants. The great thing about the plants is that they are hardy and tough and will grow wonderfully well, even in those spots in your garden where nothing else grows. Historically speaking, pomegranates have long been associated with fertility and health and have been mentioned in many ancient Roman aphrodisiac recipes as well.
Pomegranates are full of disease-fighting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. This makes it great for overall health, but specifically great for the heart, in lowering cholesterol, fighting cancers and free radicals, reducing swelling, and providing longevity.
Growing a Pomegranate Plant
Pomegranates can be grown from seed however, the tree from a seed may not be very reliable – the seed may grow into a hardy plant or one with barely edible fruits. To ensure that the pomegranate tree bears flowers and good fruits, get the right cultivar from your local nursery. Pomegranates can survive cold winters or harsh summers – you just need the right plant for the kind of weather you live in. Common pomegranate cultivars that you can choose from the local nursery include Wonderful, Sweet Pomegranate, Parfianka, Kashmir Blend, Pink Satin, Sharp Velvet, Ambrosia and Angel Red.
Soil & sun: Pomegranates do well in most soils as long as the soil is well-watered and drained – soggy soils will lead to increased flower and fruit drop. While the plant can survive in partially shaded areas, especially when being pot grown, it thrives in regular sunlight – plant pomegranates just about anywhere in your garden that gets about 2-4 hours of direct sunlight per day.
Watering: The pomegranate plant is drought resistant but will fruit better if you water it in dry conditions every 5-7 days. Soggy soil or too much water is its enemy and will cause flower and fruit drop.
Feeding the pomegranate: A 1:1:1 ratio of NPK fertilizer (Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus) applied twice a year will ensure good crop and a healthy plant. The application should be done once in spring when the plant starts to bloom and then in winters, when the plant is mostly bare. Additional compost manuring can be done every 2-3 months to improve soil quality that ensures a healthy plant
Shrub or tree: The pomegranate plant can be kept as a shrub of about 10-12 feet or turned into a tree about 20-25 feet high with regular pruning. Either way, as long as your plant is healthy and well-cared for, you will have a good crop about twice a year.
Pests & bugs: The pomegranate plant is hardy but even so is vulnerable to the pomegranate butterfly, leaf-footed bug and the bane of all plants – aphids. While you can go to the local nursery for insecticide in case of a severe infestation, there are natural ways to deal with the same. An insecticidal soap sprayed directly on the insects on a calm sunny day will be effective, as will a homemade oil spray. Mix 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil with ¼ cup of mild dish soap (no fragrance, no de-greaser and no bleach) – add this to two gallons of water (7.5 liters) and thoroughly spray the entire plant with it, including the undersides of the leaf. Another great option is a bacterial insecticide which is nontoxic to us but poisons the bugs and kills them by making the larvae starve.
Fruiting & harvesting: During its first year of growth, the pomegranate plant may or may not produce fruits, and even if it does, the fruits may not be of great quality. Usually it takes 2-3 years for a plant to start producing a good crop. The pomegranate fruits ripen on the tree, they stop ripening the moment they are picked, which is why they last for 5-7 months even after being picked if stored correctly. The first indication of a ripe fruit is the size – depending on the cultivar, a ripe pomegranate is about 2 to 5 inches across. Farmers are also known to tap the fruit – if there’s a metallic sound like a "thunk," the fruit is ready to be picked. To pick the fruit, don’t yank it – instead snip it off at the stem with gardening scissors to avoid damaging the plant.
Easy to grow, healthy to eat and an ingredient of many tasty dishes – the pomegranate plant can indeed be a beautiful addition to your garden. Have any pomegranate growing tips? Please write in to us in the comments section below…
I am wondering what my best choices would be for a new fruit tree for my yard. I live in Las Vegas. I think a good size for my yard would be about 10 to 15 foot high by 5 to 10 feet wide. It is an area of good all day sun. I am interested in the tree for its addition to the look of the area, possible shade, near a pool (so not too messy), possibly some benefit to the birds, and somewhat drought hardy. I thought of Pomegranate, but do not know if that's what would be good for my location.
A pomegranate would work well in your location. They can take a pretty diverse set of conditions and as long as you can keep it watered, it will do well there.