Pomegranate leaves turning yellow

Yellowing Leaves On Pomegranate: Why Pomegranate Leaves Turn Yellow

One of the best things about living in the warmer USDA hardiness zones is being able to grow things like pomegranate trees in the landscape. They’re excellent plants that produce delicious fruits with leathery tough hides when properly cared for. If you’ve noticed a pomegranate with yellow leaves in your landscape, however, you may have a tree with serious problems or it could be going through a regular seasonal change. Read on to find out more about what to do when pomegranate leaves turn yellow.

Why is My Pomegranate Tree Turning Yellow?

Pomegranates are trees that thrive on neglect, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely indestructible. Yellow leaves can give you hints about what might be wrong with your tree if you listen to it carefully. Watch for these common causes of yellowing leaves on pomegranate:

Cooling temperatures. Do pomegranate trees lose their leaves? Even though it might not happen until later in the fall than most of your deciduous plants, pomegranates follow the same seasonal pattern of their cousins. If you notice yellowing leaves as temperatures cool and see no other signs of stress, chances are good that your tree is just headed for its winter slumber.

Overwatering. After seasonal changes, the most common reason that leaves turn yellow on pomegranate is that homeowners overwater them. It’s natural to want to nurture fruit plants, but pomegranates, unlike most fruit-bearers, are native to dry, arid regions and don’t really do well with a lot of water. Let them dry out completely between waterings and limit the amount of compost or mulch you apply to the root zone.

Improper feeding. Feeding pomegranates can be tricky; there’s a fine line to walk there. Too much fertilizer can result in root burn and yellow leaves, but too little can cause nitrogen deficiency and light green to yellow leaves. Your best bet is to monitor your tree closely and if it starts to show a lightening of its leaf color, feed it. Right after bloom is a good time to feed to help the tree get through fruiting successfully.

Sap-sucking insects. Sap-sucking insects can also cause yellowing leaves, through unless the infestation is severe, it’ll usually appear spotty or splotchy. As soon as you notice yellowing leaves, especially if they curl or look otherwise distorted, check the underside of the leaves for aphids, mealybugs, whitefly and scale. Spider mites are more difficult to see, but will leave signature thread-like webs on your tree. Aphids, mealybugs, whitefly and spider mites can often be handled by spraying the plant regularly and thoroughly with water, but if scale are your problem you’ll need to break out the neem oil.

Bob Morris This young pomegranate tree shows yellowing and dropping leaves.

Q: Eleven of my 50 young pomegranate trees have leaves yellowing and dropping off. I water this area once a week by flooding. I sprayed a weed killer, 2, 4-D, near the pomegranates, but I protected each one with plastic to avoid damaging the trees. Where did I go wrong here? If the weed killer is the problem, is there any way to save them?

A: When I first saw your pictures, I thought the yellow leaves were because the soil was too wet. But I read they were watered only once a week.

Watering once a week in midspring should pose no problem if the soil does not stay wet until the next irrigation. If the soil is a heavy clay and remains wet, that could cause leaf yellowing and dropping.

I lean more toward chemical damage from the weed killers, but let’s talk about other possibilities.

In the picture, I saw grass growing close to the pomegranates. Grass growing close to these plants will not cause yellow leaves but would cause them to grow more slowly. Particularly if the grass is Bermuda grass. So it’s always a good idea to remove grass at least 3 feet from a fruit tree.

Leaf yellowing could come from a lack of nitrogen in the soil. That can be the case if the trees are in competition for nitrogen with grass.

But if you are fertilizing that grass regularly, there is probably plenty of nitrogen escaping to the pomegranates. Removing grass 3 feet from the tree reduces competition for all fertilizers but particularly nitrogen.

Now on to the most likely problem: weed killers. It helped that you covered each of the trees with plastic before spraying. It’s even more important that you spray this kind of weed killer at correct times: when temperatures are cool and there is absolutely no wind. Hot soil surfaces cause dandelion killers such as 2, 4-D to volatilize (turn into a vapor) and move very easily with the very slightest air movement.

Damage from 2, 4-D is easy to identify when the plant is growing and producing new leaves; new leaves are deformed. If the plant is not growing and producing new leaves, leaves turn yellow and drop.

The branches that supported these leaves might or might not die as well. There is no remedy for this. All you can do is wait and see what happens.

I am concerned with the plastic. Make sure the same side of the plastic is in contact with the plants, and you don’t accidentally wrap the plant with a contaminated side.

I think a better weed killer to use for your purpose might be Roundup. It does not volatilize as easily as 2, 4-D. For it to move inside the plant and damage it, the spray must land on green leaves or green limbs. If you prune pomegranates so their lowest foliage is only knee height from the ground, this weed killer is less likely to cause plant damage.

Keeping grass 3 feet from the trunk also helps. A small plastic bucket with a hole drilled in the center of the bottom and attached to a spray wand will help contain the spray and direct it toward the weeds.

Q: When composting we are told to mix “browns” and “greens” together for a good balance of carbon from the “browns” and nitrogen from the “greens.” I am puzzled. All living things have both until they are composted. To me, the browns add fluffy aeration to the soil while the greens clump together in the compost pile. Is it possible that the mix of browns and greens is as much for texture as it is for carbons and nitrogen?

A: This is a huge question that requires a lot more space than this column permits. Compost is used as an amendment for soils for two reasons: because it can positively change the chemistry of the soil and the structure of the soil. I will try to answer it more completely in my blog.

The terms “browns” and “greens” are a simplification for the average person to make it easier to choose the correct plant ingredients when making compost. Dry wood, or sawdust made from wood, is about 50 percent carbon by weight. The amount of nitrogen in sawdust is about 400 or 500 times less than the carbon. So, the carbon to nitrogen ratio of sawdust (a brown) is about 400 or 500 carbons for every single nitrogen.

The “greens” referred to come from green plant parts such as tree leaves, grass clippings, vegetables, etc.

A good compost should have no more than 40 carbons for every nitrogen (40:1). It can have fewer carbons than this but no more. To get this ratio lower, green amendments (more nitrogen) must be added to this sawdust.

It just so happens that food waste is one ingredient that fits the bill because it has about 20 carbons for each nitrogen. By the way, this is about the same ratio as coffee grounds, a plant addition which is brown in color but considered a green. The brown and green rule can’t be taken 100 percent literally.

Many composts use farm animal manure, rich in nitrogen, to add nitrogen to browns. Farm animal manures (brown in color) can be as low as 12 carbons for each nitrogen. Human manure (also brown in color) can be as low as 6 carbons for each nitrogen. On top of that, animal manures are easier to collect and transport for composting.

When browns and greens are mixed together in the right proportion and composted, voilà. The finished compost has the magical carbon to nitrogen ratio less than 40:1. I usually aim for a carbon to nitrogen ratio close to 20:1 in a finished compost.

Finished compost with a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 40 (C:N = 40) has only a small amount of nitrogen to give to plants. A richer compost (C:N = 20) can supply much more nitrogen and acts like a fertilizer when mixed with the soil or applied on top of the soil near plants.

But carbon and nitrogen aren’t the only fertilizers supplied by compost. The composting process releases all the nutrients contained in the ingredients. What goes in, must come out.

So much for the chemistry. Compost also changes the physical structure of a soil. It acts very similar to peat moss and coir, making it more fluffy, while providing many more nutrients to plants compared with either peat moss or coir.

Q: My Asian pears look sickly again this year with yellow leaves. Last year after they were planted the new growth was yellow and again it’s happening this year.

A: There are several possibilities why plants have yellow leaves when they’re young.

One possibility is planting the tree too deep. Fruit trees must be planted the same depth they were when growing in the nursery. Those fruit trees that are grafted or budded must have this dogleg point of attachment above ground.

Sometimes they get planted too deep by accident. If the hole is dug deep and the soil is amended, it’s possible the tree will sink deeper than intended after it’s planted. Sinking deeper combined with wet soil falling around the trunk can rot the trunk. That is the reason it is best not to dig the hole deeper than needed to accommodate the roots unless there is a drainage problem.

The first sign wet soil is around the trunk and it’s starting to rot are yellowing leaves. If not corrected, the rotting can kill the tree.

If the bud union is below the soil, water can rot the union, first yellowing the leaves followed by tree death. In milder climates, the top part of the tree might grow roots, and the benefit of a rootstock is lost.

Another reason for yellow leaves is borer infestation. You would think that trees coming from a nursery wouldn’t have insect problems, but sometimes they do.

After planting hundreds of fruit trees, I have observed there are about two trees out of every 100 that will have borers. Trees most susceptible include peach, nectarine and apple. Others are also susceptible but less so in my experience.

Water drainage from the soil can also be a problem. If watering too often and the roots stay wet, they will rot. Rotting roots decrease the plant’s health. The first sign of rotting roots is yellowing leaves. Check the soil moisture and make sure trees are not watered heavily every day.

Sometimes our desert soil is not improved enough at the time of planting. In very poor desert soils, I like to see about 50 percent compost mixed with the soil when planting. Less compost is needed in other soils, but adding some amount adds nutrients and improves rooting of plants.

Bob Morris is a horticulture expert and professor emeritus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com. Send questions to [email protected]

Learn how to grow pomegranate tree. Growing Pomegranates in Containers is not difficult, and it is more cold hardy and easy to grow than other tropical fruits.

Pomegranate is one of the nicest fruit trees and perhaps the easiest to grow in pots because it has a shallow root system when compared to other fruit trees.

Pomegranate tree if grown under optimal conditions, live up to 200 years. It is native to the Middle East (Iran) and South Asia, Himalayan Northern India. It is a shrub or small tree that might grow up to 6 m (20 ft) but usually reduced to 2 m.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 9b – 11, *can be grown below zone 9 in containers

Difficulty: Easy

Soil pH: Neutral

Appearance

The exotic container plant is adorned with five to eight centimeters long lance-shaped leaves that are shiny and bronze in color from the bud, which later turn green.

Pomegranate flowers are delicate, bell-shaped and show up in the wild bright red. Its flowers are up to 3 centimeters wide. Ornamental varieties can have flowers in pink, cream, and even white.

In addition to the decorative foliage and flowers, it is mainly the fruits that make the pomegranate tree so desirable. They are of the size of apples with a yellow-brown to a reddish-brown or pink or rich red hard shell. Inside, the fruit consists of countless tiny sacs that are transparent in color. They are juicy and have beautiful pink or red pulp and one hard seed in each, which is completely edible. Overall, the taste of pomegranate fruit is a sweet and juicy, and crunchy and little tart. Without a doubt, this is the best tasting fruit full of nutrients.

Also Read: How to Grow Indian Gooseberry ‘Amla Tree’

Dwarf Pomegranate Varieties

Fruiting Varieties

  • ‘Nana’ – The most interesting variety among the pomegranates trees is the dwarf variety ‘Nana.’ It grows compact, floriferous and is considered robust and cold hardy. It grows in USDA Zones 7 to 11. As a container plant, it grows up to only about 1 m tall, forms orange to garnet red flowers that produce small fruits with viable seeds.
  • ‘Provence’ – When most of the pomegranate varieties are not much cold hardy, Provence is one you can look at. It can tolerate temperature down to 5 F (-15 C) and can be grown in cold climate.
  • ‘State fair’ – State fair is manageable variety for containers. It can get up to 1.5 m tall and grown in USDA Zones 7 to 11.

Ornamental Varieties

  • ‘Flore Pleno’ – It’s a fruitless variety of pomegranate, the name translates as “double flower.” In summer, it produces countless beautiful orange-red flowers.
  • Punica granatum ‘Madame Legrelle’ – A well-known ornamental variety. The special thing about this variety of pomegranate is its extraordinary, dense double flowers that come in shiny orange to salmon colors with a white border.

Note: Pomegranate is a manageable plant. You can also try large varieties.

Propagation and Growing Pomegranates in Containers

Pomegranate plants can be propagated by cuttings or by seeds in spring to summer when the temperature remains in the range of 68 F (20 C), but it is better to buy a 2-3 years old plant from nursery or online. This way you don’t have to wait long for fruits.

Propagation by Seeds

Buy as ripe pomegranate as possible. Separate and clean seeds from the pulp by rubbing them from paper towel, let them dry up for a few days before sowing.

Plant the seeds no more than ¼ inches deep in light seed-starting mix. Place the pots in a bright location, optionally inside a plastic bag or greenhouse that maintains a temperature around 68 F (20 C). Always keep the soil moist. Seeds will germinate within 1 – 6 weeks depending more on the variety and climate.

Propagation by Cuttings

Take several 8 to 10 inch-long cuttings. Plant the cutting in a well-drained potting mix. It roots easily and quickly at the ambient temperature of 20 degrees Celsius and high humidity.

*If you’re living in tropics, growing pomegranates is extremely easy for you. You can grow pomegranate in any season except peak summer. All other growing requirements given below are similar.

Choosing a pot

Pot should be appropriate to the size of the plant, increase the pot size by repotting as your plant grow. Also, care about to have sufficient holes in the base of pot you’re using for proper drainage.

Requirements for Growing Pomegranates in Pots

If you’ve grown citrus in a pot, growing pomegranates in a pot cannot be difficult for you. Moreover, pomegranate is more cold hardy and easy to grow. It requires a lot of water and fertilizer. It is also frost sensitive, but after all of this care, it rewards you with iron-rich, fresh juicy fruits.

Location

Choose the sunniest location to keep your pomegranate plant happy and healthy. The more sun it will receive, the more it will fruit. However, it also thrives in partial shade, but it makes the plant to bloom and fruit lesser. It is also possible to cultivate pomegranate tree near a windowsill if it receives full sun.

Soil

Soil should be loamy, rich in organic content, loose and permeable.

Watering

In the growing period, its water requirement is medium to high. Therefore, it should be watered regularly and deeply. Soil must be kept moist but not wet or waterlogged.

In the winter watering should be reduced.

Pomegranate Tree Care

Fertilizer

During the growing season, the pomegranate tree is fertilized regularly. Fertilize after every two-three weeks using liquid 8-8-8 fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Pomegranate tree in pot often becomes zinc deficient, which is indicated by yellowing leaves. To overcome this, you can spray diluted zinc solution on foliage.

Application of compost or manure is also beneficial. Take care not to overfertilize it with nitrogen-rich fertilizer as it can cause the tree to produce lots of foliage and comparatively fewer flowers.

Overwintering Pomegranate

Overwintering pomegranate is similar to citrus. It is a deciduous tree that worships the sun. Most of its species are sensitive to frost. But for too low temperatures, the plant has developed a protective mechanism.

It sheds its leaves and become dormant below freezing temperature. There are only a few pomegranate tree varieties that survive really freezing temperatures with more than -10 C without damage.

If the pomegranate is cultivated in a pot in a cold climate below USDA Zone 9, it is important to prune it in the fall. The best place to keep pomegranate plant in winter is the garage or basement that remains warm. Temperature while keeping it indoors should not fall below 37 F (3 C). However, the optimum low temperature for most of the pomegranate varieties is 7 C (45 F).

If you’re able to keep your pomegranate tree in temperature around 55 F (15 C) indoors and allow it to take at least 4 hours of sunlight, it will not shed its leaves and go dormant. During the period of dormancy, the pomegranate hardly needs fertilizer or water. However, the plant in winter should not dry out completely.

In spring, bring back the plant to a warm and bright place so that it’ll gradually acclimate the climate. A window that is oriented to South is good. Just when the plant shows the first sign of growth and forms a few fully developed leaves, you can again start to fertilize it and give more water. Once the temperature comes in a range of 7 C (45 F) place it outside.

Pruning

Pruning is necessary to give and maintain the desired shape of your pomegranate tree and encourage flowering and fruiting. It is best done after all danger of frost has passed when the tree is about to start growing. Between early to mid spring.

Prune off weak, dead and undesirable branches to direct shrub’s energy to right parts and shorten long branches to encourage flowering.

Caveat: Some of the varieties have thorns, wear gloves before pruning for your safety.

Repotting

Repot your pomegranate tree when it becomes slightly root bound. The right time to repot is when there are no flowers or fruits on the plant, especially when it starts its growth at the beginning of growing season.

Diseases, Pests, and other Problems

The pomegranate tree is not very vulnerable when it comes to pests and diseases. It is mostly attacked by fruit flies, whiteflies and pomegranate butterflies.

Fruit crack is one problem that is common in all pomegranate varieties. It occurs due to fluctuation or lack of moisture in a substrate at the time of fruiting.

Harvesting

If pomegranate is grown from seeds fruits will begin to form in the third year.

Generally, the fruit will ripen in three to six months after the appearance of flowers.

Harvest pomegranate when the crust of the fruit is intense red. Simply cut the fruit’s stem using sharp pruning shear or knife.

Pomegranate Tree Leaves Falling Off: Why Do Pomegranate Trees Lose Leaves

Pomegranate trees are native to Persia and Greece. They are actually multi-trunk shrubs that are often cultivated as small, single-trunk trees. These beautiful plants are typically grown for their fleshy, sweet-tart edible fruits. That being said, pomegranate leaf loss can be a frustrating problem for many gardeners. Keep reading to learn why pomegranate leaf drop occurs.

Reasons a Pomegranate Tree is Losing Leaves

Do pomegranate trees lose leaves? Yes. If your pomegranate tree is losing leaves, it could be due to natural, non-damaging causes such as deciduous annual leaf drop. Pomegranate leaves turn a pretty yellow before they drop to the ground in fall and winter. But pomegranate leaves falling off at other times of the year can signal something else.

Another reason for pomegranate leaf drop may be improper care and installation. Before you install your new pomegranate plant, make sure the roots are healthy. If it is root-bound (large roots circling the root ball), return the plant. Those roots will keep circling and tightening around the root ball and can eventually choke the plant’s water and nutrient distribution system. This can cause pomegranate tree leaf loss, an unhealthy, low fruit-bearing tree, or tree death.

Pomegranate trees can survive long periods of drought, but prolonged water restriction can lead to pomegranate leaves falling off and entire plant death. Make sure you irrigate your pomegranates adequately.

Pests can also cause pomegranate leaf loss. Aphids, which are typically farmed by ants, can suck the juices out of your pomegranate leaves. The leaves will turn yellow and spotty, and eventually will die and drop off. You can spray the leaves with a strong blast of water to wash away the aphids. You can also bring in natural predators, such as ladybugs, or spray a mild, organic insecticidal soap on the aphids.

Have fun growing your pomegranate tree. Remember that there a number of common reasons pomegranates lose their leaves. Some are part of the normal cycle of growth. Others are easily remedied.

Why is my pomegranate tree dying?

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