A Few Facts About The Dwarf Pomegranate
The Dwarf pomegranate, Punica granatum, is a little known dwarf tree but is highly prized by those who own one or more. This plant can be grown as a dwarf tree or a shrub, and also is a popular as bonsai.
The dwarf pomegranate is a warm weather plant, but because of its smaller size can be taken indoors during the winter months in colder areas. It is hardy in USDA Zones 7 through 11, limiting its range as a strictly outdoors plant to the southern half of the United States, plus the temperate coastal areas farther north. The dwarf tree will typically reach a height of from 3 to 4 feet, making it a good candidate as a container plant. Some gardeners, who live in warmer weather states, have reported heights of up to 8 feet, even when the plant is regularly pruned back. At that height, when spaced 3 to 4 feet apart, the dwarf pomegranate will make an attractive hedge or screen, with its evergreen foliage and attractive dark red to scarlet blossoms. Once established, this plant is reasonably drought tolerant.
To Bear Fruit Or Not To Bear Fruit - The dwarf pomegranate may be sown from seed, or propagated from either stem or hardwood cuttings. The seeds do not store particularly well, and as the fruit forms late in the season, any seeds harvested may have to be started indoors during the winter months in many locations. Although the fruit is said to be the same as that from a standard pomegranate tree, different gardeners seem to have experienced different results. Some report getting little or no fruit, but still are happy with the tree because of its continuous blossoming habit. Others have indicated that while their dwarf tree bears fruit, the fruit appears too late in the season to ripen before the tree needs to be moved to a warmer location (not a problem in the south of course). A few have indicated that the fruit is inedible. Since the fruit is supposed to be edible, this might be a case of trying to eat fruit that has not yet ripened. Fruit is often much smaller than one would find on a standard sized tree, yet some owners report their plants have produced regular sized pomegranates.
As Bonsai - The dwarf pomegranate is popular as bonsai because of its attractive foliage and blooming characteristics. It will bear fruit when grown in this manner, but the fruit is generally quite small, so the tree is grown for its shape, foliage, and blossoms. Popular bonsai shapes which suit the pomegranate well are the windswept shape and twisted trunk variations. The plant requires a deeper than normal pot, and one of the challenges one will face in growing the plant as bonsai is the care that must be taken since the branches are quite brittle.
Starting From Seed - When starting a dwarf pomegranate from seed, the seeds need to be place in a rather warm soil, slightly warmer than normal room temperature. Some use a heating pad under the starter pot or tray. Also the plants should be started near a window where they will get plenty of light. The soil needs to be kept moist, preferably by gently spraying or misting, as the seeds are placed shallow in the soil. It will take at least one year, and possibly two, before the first flowers appear, and can take longer than that before a plant will start to bear fruit.
Be Happy With What You Get - When purchasing a dwarf pomegranate plant, or starting one from seed or a cutting, it might be a good idea to look at the plant eventually bearing fruit as a bonus or frosting on the cake. You might get lucky and get a crop of pomegranates, or you may just have to be content with attractive foliage and flowers that tend to bloom the year around.