Growing pomegranates from cuttings

Propagating Pomegranate Trees: How To Root A Pomegranate Tree

Pomegranate trees are lovely additions to your garden. Their multiple stems arch gracefully in a weeping habit. The leaves are shiny green and the dramatic blossoms are trumpet-shaped with orange-red ruffled petals. Many gardeners love the luscious fruit. It’s such a delight to have a pomegranate tree in your garden that it only makes sense you might want two, or even three. Luckily, growing a pomegranate tree from cuttings is cost-free and relatively easy. Read on for information about how to root a pomegranate tree from pomegranate tree cuttings.

Pomegranate Tree Propagation

If you’ve ever eaten a pomegranate, you know that the center contains hundreds of crunchy seeds, each in its own fleshy covering. The trees propagate readily from seeds, but there is no guarantee that the new trees will resemble the mother tree.

Fortunately, there are others methods of pomegranate tree propagation, like using pomegranate tree cuttings. If you are propagating pomegranate trees from cuttings, you get a tree of the same species and cultivar as the parent. In fact, growing a pomegranate tree from cuttings is the preferred method of pomegranate tree propagation.

How to Root a Pomegranate Tree

Growing a pomegranate tree from cuttings requires a hardwood cutting taken at an appropriate time. You should take pomegranate tree cuttings in late winter. Each cutting should be about 10 inches long and taken from year-old wood that is ¼ to ½ inch in diameter.

Dip the cut end of each pomegranate tree cutting in a commercial growth hormone immediately after taking the cutting. You can allow the roots to develop in your greenhouse before planting. Alternatively, you can plant the cuttings immediately in their permanent location.

If you plant the cuttings outside, select an area in full sun with well-draining, loamy soil. Insert the lower end of each cutting into the worked soil. Arrange the level of the cutting so that the top node remains above the soil.

If you are multiple propagating pomegranate trees, not just one tree, plant the cuttings at least 3 feet apart if you wish to grow a shrub. Plant them 18 feet apart or more if you intend to grow the cuttings into trees.

How To Grow Pomegranate From Cuttings

A step-by-step procedure on how to propagate pomegranate from cuttings, both softwood and hardwood, is described for high success rate. Pomegranate trees (Punica granatum L.) can be propagated from seeds or stem cuttings. The seed grown pomegranate plants rarely grow true to the parent, whereas, the plants cloned from cuttings reliably reproduce the parent pomegranate plant.

Pomegranate fruit

The question is how to clone a pomegranate tree. There are many ways reported on the internet to propagate pomegranates from seeds and stem cuttings, both softwood and hardwood cuttings. Continue reading below to learn on a step-by-step procedure on how to root a pomegranate cutting successfully.

Tips For Propagating Pomegranate From Cuttings

I have propagated several fruit and flower plants from cuttings including money plant (money plant propagation), blueberries (propagation of blueberries), bougainvillea (bougainvillea propagation), rubber tree (rubber plant propagation), etc. with high success rate, almost 100 percent. Given below is a step-by-step guide on how to root a pomegranate cutting (both softwood and hardwood cuttings) successfully. Only thing is that you need to be patient.

Things You Need To grow Pomegranate From Cuttings

A pomegranate tree Pruning shears
A small pot with several drainage holes.
Rooting medium
Rooting hormone
A zip-lock bag or polythene bag with tie.

Which is the Good Weather For Pomegranate Propagation

Rooting of pomegranate cuttings will be successful if you plant them when the temperature is at least 20 °C (68 °F).

How To Take Cuttings For Propagation

When to Take Cuttings

Morning is the best time to take cuttings. The cuttings should be kept moist, away from direct sun, until you put them for propagation.

Type of Cutting

Semi hardwood cuttings are easier to root, the hardwood cuttings will take a long time to root.
Softwood cuttings need special care for rooting. Cuttings taken from very young or very old branches will not root well. The cuttings from previous year’s growth are best for good success.

The Size of Cuttings

The cutting should be of the size of a pencil, about 15 cm (6 inch) long, 3 -6 mm (1/8 to 1/4 of an inch) in diameter and havindg 3-4 nodes.

Container Size For Rooting

The pot size, type and shape is not important. I usually take a small 10 cm (4 inch) pot with lot of drainage holes at the bottom, and plant 3-4 cuttings in the same pot.

Propagation Medium

The rooting of cuttings will be successful if the soil is free-draining. I use potting mix and river sand in equal amount.

Keeping Planted Cuttings in Humid Environment

The Formation of Roots in the Pomegranate Cuttings

New growth in the Propagated Pomegranate Cuttings

The Steps For Planting Pomegranate Cuttings

I had 100 percent success rate for rooting pomegranate cuttings using the following procedural steps.
1. Fill the pot with the rooting medium and water well. Mix the soil and water again. Keep the pot aside.
2. After half an hour start planting the cuttings.

Preparation of the Pomegranate Cuttings

  1. The cutting should have at least one node just above the lower cut end which will be in the rooting medium.
  2. Remove the lower leaves and cut the upper 2-3 leaves into half. Scrape the bark near the lower cutting end.

Planting Pomegranate Cuttings

  1. Apply a rooting hormone at the cut end including the scrapped portion, remove the excess hormone by shaking the cutting. Make a deep hole in the soil with a stick and insert the cutting in it. Do not force the cuttings in the soil. Press the soil around it by your fingers. Similarly, plant other cuttings.
  2. Applying a rooting hormone will ensure high success rate for the root formation.
  3. You can use a homemade natural rooting hormone. Please note that, I have rooted many cuttings of different plants without any rooting hormone.
  4. DO NOT WATER AGAIN.
  5. Enclose the pot in a zip-lock bag to keep the humidity high. I always enclose the pot in a polythene bag with a tie. The success of propagation depends on the environment in which the planted cuttings are kept. Enclosing the planted pot in a polythene bag creates the environment like a greenhouse.
  6. Put the bag in shade but warm place, away from direct sun and high wind area.
  7. Open the bag every 10 days and add a few drops of water to the soil, OR mist the stems width water.
  8. Rooting will take place in 4 to 8 weeks. You can test the rooting by tucking the stems, they will become stable. You may also see some roots coming out of the pot holes at the bottom.

After Root Formation

  1. After the stems have been rooted, water daily.
  2. Week 1: Keep open the bag from the top for a week (bag still in shade).
  3. Week 2: Take the pot out of the bag and allow morning sun.
  4. Week 3: Loosen the soil of the pot by pressing the pot from the sides. Carefully take out the seedlings and transplant in larger pots or ground.

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Introduction

The Propagation of Pomegranates

By Ashley Braun

Abstract

In my paper I’m going to explain to you what a pomegranate is and its care. I will also go in depth on the different methods of propagating pomegranates. Pomegranates are not widely grown in the United States mostly because of unfavorable climate, but also because the demand for pomegranates is not very high in the United States. This lack of interest created a small problem with finding strong research information about the pomegranates propagation. There are several different propagation methods used to grow pomegranates. Much work needs to be done to increase production and information about the pomegranate, but the field and interest in the rare fruit is growing and has the potential to double within the next ten years.

The pomegranate is native to the Middle East and South Asia. It has wandered over the centuries to China, India, the Mediterranean, California, and Florida. The pomegranate is one of the first five cultivated foods in the world. There are some trees in Europe that are known to be over 200 years old. Throughout the centuries it has been used widely in literature and art and was often seen as a sign of fertility or wealth. The pomegranate is very high in potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants.

The pomegranate plant comes in either a tree or a shrub. It is usually grown for its large fruit, but there are some dwarf cultivars used primarily for landscaping or bonsai trees. The foliage is long, thin, and glossy in appearance. It produces small flowers usually one inch in diameter. The flowers come in a wide variety of colors, but the most common are orange and red. The fruit produced is usually two to five inches in diameter with a hard rind. The rind comes in many different colors from green, yellow, orange, and red. Inside the fruit are locules separated by a thin, bitter membrane. Within the locules are many small jewel-like objects called arils. The arils contain tart to sweet flavored juice and a small seed. The juice ranges in color from clear to a deep staining red.

The pomegranate is capable of growing in a wide range of soils as long as it has good drainage. It likes to be placed in an area with a lot of sunlight. You should plant the tree or shrub in early spring with rows 15 to 18 feet apart, but make sure to protect it from any late frosts that come along. Every spring you may also add a couple inches of mulch around the base of the tree or shrub. The pomegranate is tolerant of drought, but only cold hardy till 12 degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers very warm temperatures, which improve the flavor of the fruit. For mass fruit production sprinkler irrigation is preferred, but should not be utilized close to harvest time because it causes fruit cracking. The pomegranate is self-pollinating, or it can be cross-pollinated by insects. Cross-pollination also increases fruit set and quality. The plant requires very little fertilizer, around 5-8 ounces of nitrogen a year. Minor pruning is needed, but necessary to decrease disease and increase fruit size. You must also remember to remove the suckers from the base of the plant.

The fruit takes five to seven months to mature after it blossoms. The fruits are usually harvested September to December. Almost all harvesting is done by hand. After being picked they should be kept at optimal conditions of 32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 to 85% relative humidity. Pomegranates can be kept that long for up to seven months. The long storage improves the flavor of the fruit.

Methods of Propagation

An easy method of propagation is to do it by seed. The seeds of the pomegranate germinate very quickly, even if sprinkled on the top of the soil. They usually have little problem with dormancy since the tree is native to warm climates. Seeds are also more economical than other methods of propagation. The biggest problem with seed propagation is that they are not true to type, and can loose some of the good qualities of the established cultivars. That is why the seed propagation is not used in large-scale production. It also takes longer for a fruit producing plant to grow from seed than other methods.

Hardwood cuttings are the most widely used method. You should take the cuttings November through January off of one-year-old wood. One source said the cuttings should be six to ten inches long while another source suggested cuttings of twelve to twenty inches in length. Treat the cuttings with a growth regulator and let them develop some roots in a greenhouse before planting in the spring. The cuttings are the best way to keep the properties of the original cultivars.

Grafting of pomegranate trees is rarely done in the United States. It is sparsely used in other parts of the world. Many different types of grafts have not been successful enough for use in commercial production. I have not found much information explaining why there is such difficulty getting successful grafts.

Tissue culture is another method of production that calls for the growth of the plant in a sterile environment using the tissue, seed, or cuttings. There is little, if almost no tissue culture of pomegranates. The United States has such a small pomegranate market that very little money is put into its research and the expense of tissue culture. Many of the countries that have large pomegranate production have poor economical status and cannot provide much money to its research.

Future Work Needed

I would have liked to find more specific information on the propagation of pomegranates. Since the fruit has been grown for hundreds of years with reliable results there is not much want for growers to explore other options. The minimal U.S. production posed a problem in finding information also. It was very easy to find general production knowledge and facts, but in depth statistical information is very hard to come by. The propagation of pomegranates has been done for many years and the plant has endured.

Works Cited

California Rare Fruit Growers. “Pomegranates.” June 4, 1997.

<http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/pomegranate.html>.

Corbis Photo Search. “Pomegranate.” April 26, 2003. <http://www.corbis.com>.

Gernot Katzer’s Spice Dictionary. “Pomegranates.” February 27, 2000.

<http://www-ang.kfunigraz.ac.at/~katzer/engl/generic_frame.html? Puni_gra.html>.

POM Wonderful. July 14, 2001. <http://www.pomwonderful.com/home.asp>.

Pomegranate. March 24, 1999. <http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton /pomegranate.html>.

Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Pomegranates.” November 1, 1997.

<http://www.ext.vt.edu/departments/envirohort/factsheets3/fruithome/NOV90PR3.HTML>.

Hi everyone, I wrote this as a post for my blog but wanted to share the information I have found out with you all here since this is a becoming a good resource for pomegranates, too.
I rooted around 100 pomegranate cuttings over the last year using two different techniques. I lost a few cuttings, but for the most part had good success using two methods that are commonly used to propagate figs:
ROOTING CUTTINGS DIRECTLY IN SOIL (or drinking cups with drainage holes drilled in them, in this case)
and
PRE-ROOTING CUTTINGS IN A PROPAGATION MEDIUM
In either scenario, starting out, you’ll need your germplasm material – the cuttings shown in the photos were taken from dormant plants, with a diameter of each cutting approaching that of a pencil and the length also similar to a pencil. (You know what, go ahead and grab a #2 pencil because it’s a good reference and you’ll need it for a later step, anyway.)
I would stay away from trying to root much thinner or much much thicker cuttings then pencil or Sharpie size, as it seems the success rate is less. You’ll want to make sure each cutting has at least 3 nodes (the places where the stem is segmented, and where leaves and buds form) to have a decent chance of success, but I’m aware some have had success rooting smaller cuttings with less nodes than this. I might try using less nodes next time around.
The first thing I like to do is to clean up the work area – it’s just generally good practice to maintain as clean a work environment as possible, although I’m pretty lax about cleaning and liberal on the disinfectant. Being clean and disinfecting the area can cut down on failures from contamination and also failures from other preventable things like not having the appropriate materials on hand at the time they are needed (this has led to a few graft failures on my part).
I like to use either isopropyl or bleach to clean, with the bleach being diluted in a good bit of water. I also take this time to use a weak bleach solution and a toothbrush to scrub the pomegranate cuttings’ exterior. I think this may be an unnecessary step, but I feel it could also prevent mold contamination, so I do it anyway for the peace of mind. Just don’t scrub TOO hard!
Next, I lay out the cutting wood I will be using, with the top of the cuttings furthest from me. I then take each cutting (being extra careful to not mix strains or cultivars, always make sure to have them identified and labeled) and snip the top of the cutting at a 45 degree slant, to be able to differentiate the top from the bottom of the cutting.
Again, this may seem like an unnecessary step, but it only takes a few minutes and can save a whole lot of frustration and mistakes like trying to apply rooting hormone to the wrong side of a cutting!
OPTIONAL: Totally optional but may marginally increase the success rate: Parafilm wrap. I get mine on Ebay as it was a lot cheaper than buying it from a nursery supply store locally, but check around and you may be surprised. It’s really good stuff to wrap grafts, cuttings, etc to prevent them from desiccating.
I found no difference in my pomegranate rooting success rate using parafilm, but your mileage may vary. As a general rule, the more exposed cuts, or the greener or softer the cutting, the more you’ll probably want to wrap it to prevent it drying out.
SOMEWHAT LESS OPTIONAL: Rooting hormone. Do take the time to apply your preference of rooting hormone to the bottom 1/3 of the cutting – I did notice a positive influence on my success rate when using rooting hormone. I prefer to use the rooting gels as I’ve always had bad luck with powders either getting too wet or drying out the cutting, but do what works best for you.
The other suggestion I can make that might improve the chance of the cutting taking, is to scrape the bark off of the bottom of the cutting a bit to expose the green cambium layer. Do this before you apply the rooting hormone, or you’ll be scraping it off with the bark, too. Scraping the bark down to the cambium, or even nicking the bottom of the cutting also seems to have the welcome side effect of allowing more surface area for the cutting to produce roots – it seems this can make the cutting’s root system more robust along with providing more cambium layer exposure for root development in the first place. I’ll need to do a few tests in the clear cups next time I do pomegranate cuttings, and I’ll measure root mass and see if there is a noticeable difference.
Now, we are at a crossroad…which rooting method to use? Ultimately, both of the methods below are absolutely viable methods with which to propagate plants. I’d say, try them both out and see which fits your set up better. The first example below, is probably the easiest with regards to the materials used and the time and effort it takes to complete the steps.
EXAMPLE/PATH 1 – ROOTING IN CONTAINERS (CUPS WITH DRAINAGE HOLES DRILLED IN THEM + SOIL)
If you’ve followed the post up to this point, you should have your cuttings with the tips nipped to an angle, with the bottom of the cuttings covered in a light layer of rooting hormone and the cambium exposed, these last two steps being optional but recommended.
(Notes on soil mix:
You’ll want to make sure the ‘soil’ mix you’re using is as good as it can be with regards to providing aeration of the roots and consistent (READ: NOT WET OR DRY, ONLY MOIST) moisture. This is probably the biggest factor in determining your success with rooting cuttings. Too wet, and the cuttings will rot. Too dry, and the roots will desiccate and die, or not form at all. I use a mixture of potting mix, coarse sand, coarse perlite, and pine bark fines/mini nuggets)
Go ahead, and take each of your primed and ready cuttings, poke a hole into the soil using your #2 pencil, a sharpie, a finger, etc., and insert the cutting into the hole you just made in the soil. Don’t mash or compact the soil down, but lightly tap the side of the container to settle the soil in around the cutting firmly while allowing good soil aeration. The soil should be damp, but not wet or dry. You’ll want to maintain this moisture level as priority # 1, next to providing humid air and warmth.
Note that if you are using clear cups, you will probably want to get some similarly sized opaque cups to go around the outside of the clear cups, so that light doesn’t enter and interrupt the growth of the cutting’s VERY sensitive roots. Just make sure whatever you use, that it has proper drainage holes.
At this point, you can add parafilm to the exposed ‘above-ground’ parts of your cuttings if you’d like, and your newly potted-up pomegranate cuttings can be placed in bright indirect sun or indirect ‘sun’ under grow lights.
Do remember that, until the cuttings are established and the root system is clearly visible, the plants will not uptake much water, so less is absolutely more. Don’t ‘love’ them to death by over watering – and DO err on the side of caution while handling them, as the newly formed cuttings’ roots will be extremely fragile and brittle. Also remember that until cuttings are established, death can result also from swiftly changing conditions like moisture, temperature, humidity, and light intensity in the growing environment.
You’ll want to transplant the cuttings out of the cups into bigger containers when you see that the roots are growing out of the drainage holes, or in the case of clear cups, if you can see a large healthy root system clearly visible. You’ll want to make sure and wait for roots to be fully formed before transplanting while using this method, because you’ll want the whole cutting (WITH INTACT ROOT SYSTEM!) to easily slide out of the container in a nice plug for repotting.
A common side effect of transplanting too soon, is breaking off the roots as it takes just the slightest twisting, tearing, or shearing motion and it’s all over for the cutting. You can almost guarantee death of the cutting will result from severely damaging a new cuttings’ roots, as the cutting only has a small, finite amount of energy to exhaust while trying to get established before leafing out.
EXAMPLE/PATH 2 – PRE-ROOTING IN PROPAGATION MATERIAL
If you’ve followed the post but decided you’d rather figure out which cuttings are going to root first, and THEN plant them, this method is for you. I had slightly better success rates pre-rooting using this method, than with direct planting into containers/cups, but this process is a little bit more involved.
You’ll need a large bag or clear plastic container, it will need to be able to hold moisture and gas inside. There are several propagation materials commonly used to pre-root cuttings, the one which I use is long-fibered sphagnum moss. Some people report good success using only perlite, or coir, or peat moss etc. – again, your mileage may vary so use the medium that works best for you. I really like to use sphagnum moss because it is very unique in its ability to hold a huge amount of air and water at the same time, while also having a very low PH which helps to prevent microbial growth. It’s also kind of difficult to get the perfect amount of water into it, so keep that in mind – it’s all about the moisture.
If you’re using sphagnum moss, you’ll want to make sure it is damp, but not wet enough to wring water drops out of it. This is about perfect for our needs, and on that note it’s also a really good medium to use for air layers. I use the ‘orchid moss’ type of long fibered sphagnum; get the best quality you can as the cheaper stuff has a LOT of debris and dirt in it.
Once you have your pre-rooting container/bag ready, and your cuttings ready (with the tips cut at an angle, rooting hormone applied, cambium exposed, etc.), you can place the cuttings in the bag or container, and sandwich them between moss at the bottom of the bag and at the top. You’re wanting to make sure all areas of the cuttings are covered by the moss.
Once you have your cuttings in the bag or container with the propagation material, you can label the container with the cultivar info as well as the date and any other notable info, so it is easy to have this information when you need it.
Keep the bag or container in a nice, dark, warm environment between 70-80 degrees (f) and within a few weeks you should see roots forming, assuming the moisture is kept consistent. Don’t check on them too often or you will inevitably disturb the growing conditions, or worse, the cutting’s progress in rooting. You may occasionally find that you need to spritz the moss or medium to maintain the perfect balance of moisture/humidity. I did not have to spritz the moss until several weeks after putting them into the bags, and only for the cuttings that were ‘stragglers’.
When pre-rooting cuttings, I usually transplant them when they have a few good roots, perhaps half an inch long. After confirming roots have formed a bit, I pot them up into a cup or 1 gallon planter with a really good and fast draining mix. Be extremely careful with the new cuttings, as their new roots will be very fragile and prone to breakage.
After transplanting, they can be treated like any other cutting – just be consistent in your moisture (in the growing medium, and in the humidity) and lighting conditions.
CONCLUSION:
I’ve used both of these methods with lots of success. I did have slightly more success when pre-rooting the cuttings, but please take this with a grain of salt as my conditions may be very different from yours. You may also want to try these propagation techniques for rooting other species, such as figs (Ficus carica).
I have seen others mention that they have also had success burying the cutting horizontally, with one side of the bud below ‘ground’ and one above – I have not tried this yet but might cover it in a future post. It’s great to experiment and see what works.
I also want to note that there are many, many other methods of propagation, and each has a unique set of pros and cons, and a place where that specific technique really shines. There’s really not a ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ way to do it, as long as the method consistently results in more plants! I have killed a lot of plants to learn how not to grow them and propagate them, there is really no substitute for experience in my opinion.
Either way you go – rooting pomegranate cuttings (or almost any other species, for that matter) relies on the “Goldilocks” combination of air and moisture in the rooting medium. Starting with good, disease-free cuttings from healthy trees is also critical for success. Good luck!

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