How to prune pomegranate

Pomegranate Tree Pruning – Learn About The Cutting Of Pomegranates

Pomegranate trees are actually multi-trunk shrubs that are often cultivated as small, single-trunk trees. Read on to learn more about pruning/trimming pomegranate trees.

Trimming Pomegranate Trees

Pomegranate trees can grow to 18-20 feet high. They are deciduous in interior, winter-cold areas but can be evergreen to semi-evergreen in milder regions near the coasts. Pomegranates are beautiful plants with an arching, vase-like form; narrow, bright green leaves; orange-red springtime flowers, and large red-husked fruits that bear hundreds of fleshy, sweet-tart, edible seeds.

It is important to prune pomegranate trees properly if you want to increase fruit production and maintain an attractive form. Unfortunately, these two goals are in conflict.

When and How to Prune a Pomegranate Tree

Commercial growers typically shorten branches to induce new fruit producing shoots and fruiting spurs. This method creates short, stubby branches that are not natural to the arching form of pomegranate trees.

If your goal is primarily ornamental, pomegranate tree pruning should entail thinning out weak, awkward, diseased and crossed-over branches and suckers by cutting them to their base. Do this on an annual basis. This type of cutting of pomegranates encourages their natural form, opens up the center so air and light can penetrate the interior, and reduces disease vectors. Additional pruning at the ends of the branches should be done lightly – just enough to maintain a balanced form.

If your goal is fruit production you need to prune pomegranate trees to increase exterior branches that form fruiting wood and fruit spurs. Shorten the exterior branches and allow the even smaller side shoots to form in the spring. This new growth is more likely to form flowering and fruiting buds.

If you want both the beauty and the bounty, consider integrating the native pomegranate (Punica granatum) into your ornamental landscape while at the same time growing one of the delicious cultivars (e.g. “Wonderful”) in a backyard fruit orchard.

If a tree is mature but produces little fruit, you can prune it more assertively.

The best time for structural pomegranate tree pruning is late winter before the buds break but after risk of frost has past. You can prune out suckers and other awkward branches as they appear throughout the growing season. If the tree is developed and maintained properly, it should only require light annual pruning.

Pomegranates are beautiful ornamental tree/shrubs that produce fabulous fruit. Place them in a location where you can enjoy them regularly.

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub in the family Lythraceae that grows between 5 and 10 m (16 and 33 ft) tall. It´s originated in the region extending from modern-day Iran to northern India, and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region. It was introduced into Spanish America in the late 16th century and into California by Spanish settlers in 1769. Understand that I could not miss an article about how and when to prune a pomegranate in this blog, given that it is a fruit as popular as exotic.

You will learn the best techniques for proper pruning, the right time to trim and with what tools to do it. Stay until the end of the article and you will not have any doubts when you take your pruning shears.

Note: Please note that the advice given here is general, this blog is consulted from many countries in the world, with totally different characteristics, what not all tips will be adapted in the same way in all cases. Once you finish reading the article it will be necessary to analyze all the information and apply what you have learned in the best way. If you have any questions, remember that you can contact us to make your inquiries.

Table of Contents

1. Interesting facts about pomegranate

Although the main theme of the post is the pruning of the pomegranate, before getting into it with him we will see some interesting facts about this fruit. I bet what you want, you do not know one or several of them. 😉

  • The name “pomegranate” comes from medieval Latin “pomum” meaning apple and “granatum” meaning seeded.
  • The pomegranates are very long-lived, with some specimens in France that survived for 200 years.

Fig 1: Pomegranate fruit

  • A large, dry pomegranate was found in the tomb of Djehuty, the butler of Queen Hatsheput in Egypt.
  • Carbonized exocarp of pomegranate has been identified in early Bronze Age levels of Jericho in the West Bank, as well as the late Bronze Age levels of Hala Sultan Tekke on Cyprus and Tiryns.
  • Hippocrates recommended the juice of the pomegranate against fever and as a fortifier against the disease, the anecdotes and the curiosities of this fruit being very wide.
  • Its fruit measures between an orange and a grapefruit, 7 to 12 centimeters (2.7 to 4.7 inches) in diameter with a rounded hexagonal shape, and has a thick reddish skin. The number of seeds in a pomegranate can vary from 200 to about 1,400.
  • The taste differs depending on the variety of pomegranate and its state of ripeness. It can be very sweet or it can be very sour or tangy, but most fruits lie somewhere in between, which is the characteristic taste, laced with notes of its tannin.
  • The pomegranate has many health benefits, among them; they’re anti-inflammatory, they’re good for the heart, they can assist with weight loss, they help protect your skin from damage, they could improve sexual health, etc.

2. Tools needed to prune or trim a pomegranate tree

As with all fruits, there are several tools you will need to carry out your pruning or trimming. Each of them appropriate for different cases depending on the age of the pomegranate, the time of year, type of pruning etc.

  • Pruning shears.
  • Handsaw
  • Chainsaw.
  • Ladder or scaffolding.
  • Basic safety elements such as helmet and gloves.

Keep in mind that you must disinfect all cutting tools before pruning the pomegranate. This will help to avoid transmitting diseases, you will have to do it before you start pruning and every time you change plants.

2.1 Needed care of pruning tools

If you want to extend the useful life of your pruning tools there are some basic care.

  • Use the right tool for a job and avoid twisting or straining it.
  • Clean and oil tools regularly by wiping an oily cloth on blades and other surfaces.
  • Keep cutting edges sharp by regularly using an oilstone.
  • Wooden handles should be varnished or regularly treated with linseed oil to keep them from cracking or splintering.

Carry out the previous care on a regular basis and you will be saving good money on tools. 🙂

3. Why to prune a pomegranate

Fruit trees, among them pomegranates, should be pruned for many reasons related to the health and well-being of the specimen itself, as well as to the profit that is desired from it, both in the aesthetic field and in the production of fruits. The main objectives are summarized in three groups, which are detailed below.

  • Take care of the health of the tree. The trimming of some branches gives vigor to the tree, since the new ones that are born will do it with a lot of strength and energy. In addition, pruning should serve to aerate the crown of the tree, so that the sun’s rays reach inside and give life to the branches and leaves of this area. The sun helps to eliminate certain insects and other pests that settle in dark and humid places.

Fig. 2: Why to prune pomegranate

  • When pruning the pomegranate improve its production. The tree distributes the sap throughout its entire body. As much sap as the specimen destines to the dry or very damaged branches, they will not be able to bear fruit. For this reason, it is convenient to cut these fragments so that this sap can be better used by the youngest and healthiest branches, in which better fruit will sprout. In addition, the instinct of survival of the tree makes that when it feels attacked (this happens when it is pruned) subject for its life and flourishes before and in great amount. This, in certain limits, also favors production.
  • Give the tree a balanced shape. The pruning serves to cut the branches that by their extension and their own weight bend too much downwards and they prevent that a person can be placed without problems underneath them.

You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:

  • Walnut tree
  • Apricot
  • Avocado
  • Guava

4. How an when to prune a pomegranate tree

Performing the pruning of a pomegranate is something that must be carried out from the moment of planting until the last of useful life. Since they are not the same objectives that are sought when pruning a recently planted fruit tree, that one in full production, there are several types of pruning. The most important prunings are:

  • Training.
  • Production.
  • Green pruning.
  • Rejuvenation.

Since nothing has to do pruning with another, in the following we will develop in detail each of them.

4.1 Training of pomegranates

Training pruning of the pomegranate is a key aspect in the productive management of this species since its basitonic branch, flexible wood and predominantly distal fruiting result in the heavy fruits (350- 900 g) of the species arch branches and make contact with the ground. There are several training pruning schools:

  • Formation of plants with multiple self-supporting axes (usually 4 to 7).
  • Training with a single axis (trunk) that can be short (15-30 cm) or long (> 80 cm).

In all cases, the recommendation is to eliminate all the fruits that come together during the first three years. This practice when pruning the grando will allow the development of a more resistant structure.

As indicated, the weight of the fruit tends to arch the branches so, in systems with an axis, the use of support structures should be considered (Fig. 3).

Fig: 3: Support structure – Single axis system

In the case of plantations in multi-axis, each axis is usually be self-supporting so they are handled without structure, eventually propping up the axes that are tilted due to the high fruit load (Fig. 4).

Fig 4: Support structure – Multi axis system

A technique used in Israel to prevent excessive opening of the branches is the use of a “belt” of synthetic canvas that is tied around the entire crown of the tree at ~ 1.5 m in height (Fig. 5)

Fig 5: Israeli support system

For all training and driving systems, it is recommended to eliminate all the twigs located in the basal third of the plants (under 0.8 to 1.0 m) during the winter pruning to avoid that the fruits in arched branches come in contact with the soil.

4.2 Pomegranate production trimming

The pruning of production in the pomegranate is commonly limited to the elimination of suckers and misplaced branches; dead and unproductive, avoiding thick cuts, since the production takes place in the terminal part of the branch (flowers in wood of the year). It is recommended to perform soft winter prunings with the objectives of clearing the inner part of the cup, eliminate low growths (<0.8-1.0 m) and remove damaged wood.

During the first year of production the plants must be carefully pruned eliminating badly located branches and that are in the central part of the same, to avoid cutting productive branches. It is beneficial if it is considered that it contributes to increase the percentage of quality fruits, increasing the size of the fruit and the content of juice and soluble solids.

4.3 Green pruning

Many are the fruit trees that not only limit their need for pruning to winter pruning, but they also need pruning in green. This is the case of the pruning of the pomegranate which after the plant obtains 50% of foliage, it must be eliminated:

  • Those branches cross-linked poorly located.
  • Branches that are directed towards the ground.
  • Buds of the central part of the plant that do not allow a good entry of light and air.

Try not to cut more than 30% of the foliage, remember that the fructification of the plant depends on them.

4.4 How to prune old pomegranate – Rejuvenation

When our pomegranate has a certain age, or suffers a strong attack of plague or disease, it may need to be rejuvenated by means of a rejuvenation pruning. The same, given its severity, can not be done in a single moment. What should be done is a programming of this pruning, should be staggered in about three years, thus achieving a total renewal of the fruit.

This pruning of rejuvenation in the pomegranate should be acomapañda during the summer with prunings in green, which will consist of eliminating pacifiers, but leaving those that can be used for a renewal.

5. Prune a pomegrante – Importants tips

After all I’ve seen them here on pruning the pomegranate there are some key concepts that you need to be very clear about:

a) The pomegranate is a basitone species, so it tends to emit abundant branches in the trunk base, as well as pacifiers on the trunk and main branches.

b) There are two types of pomegranate formation, single axis or multi-axis.

c) In a single axis formation with a long trunk, it has the advantage of keeping the fruit wood more distant from the soil but it is more susceptible to the mismatching of complete plants.

d) In the multi-axis system it has the advantage that, in the case of unhooking, it is lost only one axis and not the entire plant.

e) Annual pruning should be carried out.

f) The pruning season coincides with the winter rest period (between December and February).

g) The pomegranate has two main budgets, the spring (harvest of the year) and the Of summer.

h) Branches that cross and interfere with the passage of light must be eliminated.

6. Training and Pruning of Pomegranate Plant – Video

To finish with the article, and as usual in this blog, I leave a good video (of the Shramajeevi channel) where several of the concepts seen so far are reviewed.

I hope everything was clear about how and when to prune a pomegranate, and as I said at the beginning of the article, do not hesitate when you take your scissors and start trimming.

You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:

  • Spirea bush
  • Japanese maple tree
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Camellias

Information source:

ABC del Cultivo del Granado – Nicolás Franck Ing. Agrónomo, M.Sc., Ph.D.

How to Prune a Pomegranate Tree

Pomegranates have recently become very popular for their health benefits, tart flavor and vibrant color. Pomegranate trees are naturally very bushy. They require considerable pruning of the main branches and attention if you are growing the pomegranate for high fruit yields. If you prefer the pomegranate tree to be mostly ornamental to experience the beautiful fall leaf color and spring buds, it is best left with minimal pruning, as you would do with any other tree in your garden.

Pruning an Ornamental Pomegranate

Examine the trunk of the pomegranate tree. Look for small shoots coming from the main trunk, from the bottom to the top. They will range from small to medium size, from green to red.

Put on gloves if desired. Use the pruning shears to trim off all of these shoots that you see, cutting them close to the trunk as possible. Discard these shoots.

Continue pruning any branches that are excessively bushy, stick out at awkward angles, or that look damaged or diseased. Shape the tree as you wish, usually in a oval or round shape.

Pomegranate trees, especially young ones, may require staking; they have soft wood and may blow over easily. Pound the stake into the ground next to the trunk with a hammer, and use twine to tie the trunk to the stake in a couple places. Keep it staked until you feel the pomegranate tree is strong enough.

Pruning a Fruit-Producing Pomegranate

If you want your pomegranate tree to yield high amounts of fruit, you will need to prune it much more drastically. Lower the height of the tree by trimming all the main branches.

Use the shears to trim off not only the short shoots as you did in the first section, but also the main branches. Chop them off close to the stump. This will induce new spring growth which will produce more flowers and more fruit.

Apply small amounts of pruning salve to the open ends of the shoots you cut. This will prevent insects or bacteria from getting into the tree.

Ornamental and Fruit-Bearing

You can have the best of both worlds. It is possible to enjoy the ornamental aspects of the pomegranate as well as harvest some fruit.

If, you want to enjoy the beauty of the pomegranate while getting fruit at the same time, prune the tree as you would for ornamental value, but prune off one to two of the larger main branches.

By spring you will have re-growth, some fruit yield, and you can still enjoy the light green foliage, flowers and fruits of spring and summer, and the vivid leaves in the fall.

How to Prune a Pomegranate

Growing Pomegranates

Native to what is now Iran, pomegranates have adapted to hot, arid climates. They typically perform best in USDA Zones 8 to 10, but some are hardy in Zone or even 6. You can plant them in any kind of soil as long as it drains well. Water weekly – or more often in hot, windy weather – but never let water stand on the roots. Fertilize two or three times a year while actively growing.

Tools for Pruning

The proper tools make pruning easier and decrease the risk of injury to both you and the plant. Sharpen cutting tools before use; clean and oil them after use. Here are the basics:

  • Short-handled bypass pruning shears
  • Long-handled bypass loppers
  • Small chainsaw (use eye protection)
  • Pruning sealant
  • Putty knife
  • Leather gloves.

Pruning for Fruit

If your goal is plenty of fruit, use the commercial grower’s techniques. After removing any dead or crossed branches, cut the branches back to spur new fruit-producing spurs. Make a slanting cut just above a growth node. When dealing with a mature tree that isn’t producing much fruit, pruning hard can help invigorate the tree and increase both flowering and fruit set.

Pruning to Shape

If you care less about fruit and more about the pomegranate’s ornamental value, you’ll want to prune to showcase the naturally arching form. Again, remove dead, crossed branches first. Prune for a tree shape by choosing one main stem when the tree is young and prune to force growth into that stem. Prune the branches lightly to increase bushiness.

When to Prune

Like most deciduous fruit trees, the pomegranate goes dormant in winter. This is the best time for major pruning. Ideally, you should prune just as the leaf buds start to develop. You can prune broken or diseased branches any time, however. Pomegranates also produce suckers and these can be pruned at any time of the year.

Other Pruning Tips and Tricks

Pay close attention to growth nodes when pruning for shape or fruit production. When pruning suckers or to completely remove a branch, however, prune back to the base. If a branch is diseased, always clean your tools before moving on to another branch or tree. Use pruning sealant on any branches that are ½ inch or more in diameter to protect from insects and disease organisms.

Pruning Pomegranate

How to prune pomegranate?

Pruning pomegranates – The magnificent pomegranate shrub (or tree if you want) reminds me some times of a rose bush. The thorny stems, the strong red color of the fruit… but never mind that, that’s just me. Pomegranates are a must in every garden, and an absolute must if you have an edible garden. In fact, pomegranates are so easy to train and care for that if you don’t have a garden you can grow them in a container on your porch. As long as you don’t miss out on the chance to grow this fantastic plant.

As you can see here, I design my pomegranate shrub to look more like a tree. I could have kept it low and shrubby looking, but because I love the plant so much, I decided to let it have more space in our garden. But, all that is about to change, my pomegranate plant is about to donate it’s body to study J, after all, we are all gathered here for a specific purpose – pruning.

So let’s prune!

Pruning Pomegranate
Long legs are about to get short

Allow me first to thank Roni, our Handpruning.com house model, without her, you would have a hard time knowing the height of the pomegranate, or other trees for that matter. Roni is 4.8 foot tall , and she will be our scale. So, from the pictures you should be able to get an idea of the height of the trees she is standing with. Thank you Roni.

When to prune? Pomegranate trees are deciduous, so you can do routine maintenance throughout the year. Things like removing shoots, dead stems, rotten fruits etc.. just feel free to cut them off whenever they bother you. As for the pruning we’re about to talk about, plan to do that only after:

  • All the leaves have fallen.
  • Late winter, just before dormancy ends.

Plan your pruning – Because pomegranates are easy to train all you have to do before you start pruning is decide what kind of look you’re going for. Do you want a shrub or a tree? Or perhaps something in between? Let me explain. Although you might look at the picture and wonder why I call it a shrub, when really it looks very much like I tree, I’d like to remind you that it was after all my decision to let it grow and reach such height. And no, it probably doesn’t make sense, because at this height the fruits are high above our heads and the pomegranate plant won’t have enough energy to spread equally around. If I were to let it keep growing up I would probably hurt the amount and quality of the fruit, which I wouldn’t be able to reach without a ladder…

Where to prune exactly? Thanks to Roni we know the approximate height of the tree, though remember, I always recommend to keep your trees low enough to allow you to care for them and reach the fruits. As you can see in the picture, I’ve already marked my new desired height, now I’ll start pruning by beloved pomegranate tree, working from the outside and working in a circular pattern around the plant. Why? because although my specific pomegranate is very tall, it’s structure and growth are that of a shrub. This means that unlike fruit trees, where I recommend you prune from the tree’s center, pomegranate stems grow straight from the middle (like lots of small trunks) and up. That kind of growth creates one big mess of branches at the top of the tree. So, if you try pruning pomegranate like a citrus tree, trying to clean out some of the nasty branches in the center, you’ll find it very hard to pull them away. Back to my original point, when you’re pruning pomegranates first to be cut are the external stems.

Pruning Pomegranate
Not the only exercise

O.K now what? Grab yourself a cup of coffee and relax. I know the haircut I game my pomegranate is a little shocking, but don’t panic, in a few short weeks you’ll understand me better, and I believe you’ll thank me. And if you won’t my pomegranate will.

As soon as I finished pruning the height and managed to remove all the mess at the top of the tree, I was able to clean the center. Now it’s clean and ready to bask in the sun and fresh air. BTW, while pruning pomegranate you’ll probably come across small thin stems and twigs, some are already dead, and you’ll recognize them by their gray color and how easily they can be broken off. Prune those close to the stem, where they grow. If you’ll come across small fresh stems, with new buds trying to come out, prune those half way up their length. They will soon to become leaves.

Before you go…. please don’t forget to use a quality pruning sealer on stems wider than a finger (1/2 inch). It will reduce exposure to fungus, cold weather and prevent heat burns. Pruning pomegranate can be tough, but the rewards, that come within a few short weeks, are tremendous. I know there are different views regrade the use of pruning sealers, but in my case, because the haircut I gave my tree was pretty extreme I did decided to use it. The pomegranate skeleton is naked and has lots of new cuts which are now exposed to the cold, the sun, diseases and other kinds of harms. I chose to protect those exposed cuts from potential cold burns and diseases (the sun is less of a problem right now, we are just reaching the end of winter so it’s not too hot yet). The pruning sealer will protect my pomegranate tree and by the time the sun is hot and high in the sky the tree will be covered with new leaves which will provide shade and cover to any new cuts.

Tools
My personal recommendation

My preferred pruning shears: Pruning apple trees can be tough. Even the small dried twigs can give you a hard time. I would use short blade bypass pruners that can handle the challenge and are also good for the small stems. For thicker branches, a 1/2 inch or more, I would recommend bypass loppers – they will make the hard work easier.

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