Growing Pomegranate Trees from Seeds: An Ancient Tradition

The pomegranate has become a familiar sight in grocery stores, with its apple-sized fruit flaunting an abundance of jewel-like seeds beneath its vibrant ruby skin. As the popularity of this luscious fruit has surged in recent years, gardeners have begun to wonder how to plant a pomegranate seed and embark on their own pomegranate-growing adventure.

A Rich History of Pomegranate Tree Planting

Native to Persia, in what is now modern-day Iran, the pomegranate is an ancient fruit with a fascinating backstory. Travelers discovered the plant and soon people across Asia, Africa, and Europe, around the Mediterranean Sea, started planting pomegranate trees. This exotic fruit has woven its way into the mythology of civilizations like the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. It has even received praise in religious texts like the Bible and Talmud, while appearing in renowned works of art. One can almost envision the ancient Silk Road traders inquiring about how to grow these remarkable trees and market their exquisite fruit.

Over the centuries, the pomegranate became a symbol of royalty, steeped in myth and romance. Its remarkable distinctiveness may explain this rich historical association. The pomegranate, scientifically known as Punica granatum, belongs to a plant family with only one genus and two species. The other species is exclusive to Socotra, an island in the Indian Ocean.

Contrary to the Romans who classified it as an apple, it is important to note that the pomegranate is, in fact, a berry. The rind conceals locules, separated by a delicate, slightly bitter membrane. Within these locules lie the arils, delicate pearls of sweetness that contain both juice and seeds.

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Cultivating Pomegranate Trees from Seeds

Planting a pomegranate seed requires minimal effort as these seeds sprout easily. Begin by removing the fleshy aril enveloping the seed and planting it in loose soil, covering it with a layer approximately half an inch (1.5 cm) deep.

Heat plays a crucial role in caring for pomegranate seeds. At room temperature, these seeds typically germinate within 30-40 days. However, by increasing the soil temperature slightly, germination time can be halved. You can experiment by surrounding the plant with foil and placing it in direct sunlight until the seedlings emerge.

Another method worth considering when planting pomegranate seeds is the baggie method. Some gardeners swear by this technique. Begin by wetting a coffee filter and squeezing out the excess water. Sprinkle the cleaned seeds onto one quarter of the filter, then carefully fold it into quarters and place it in a sealable plastic bag. Store the bag in a warm location and check it every few days for signs of germination. Once the pomegranate seeds sprout, transfer them to a pot.

Choose a small container with proper drainage and plant two to three seeds in each pot. As the seedlings grow, you can remove the weaker ones after a few weeks or transplant them into their own individual pots. And that’s it!

Nurturing Young Pomegranate Trees

However, if you aspire to cultivate healthy and robust pomegranate trees, proper care is essential. In their natural habitats, these trees thrive in calcareous or chalky, alkaline soil. Hence, when considering pomegranate care, it is vital to start with the right planting medium. The soil or planting media should lean slightly towards alkalinity, with a pH of up to 7.5. Most planting mediums tend to be neutral, so adding a small amount of limestone or garden lime to the mixture should suffice.

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Now that you’ve learned how to grow a pomegranate tree from seed, be aware that the resulting plants may not possess the exact characteristics of their parent cultivar. Nevertheless, with patience, your new pomegranate tree will produce fruit within one to three years. There is nothing more gratifying than enjoying the taste of something you have grown with your own hands.

Pomegranate
Pomegranate Tree

Please visit the Ames Farm Center for more information on gardening and cultivating various plants.