The flower pomegranate or Punica granatum is a shrub or small tree, native to Asia, widespread for millennia throughout the Mediterranean area; the adult specimens reach 2-3 meters in height. Given the ease with which pomegranates produce shoots at the base of the stem, they often develop as large, enlarged shrubs; to obtain a single plant it is necessary to cut most of the suckers. The bark is clear, very wrinkled; the ramifications are quite disordered, and, over the years, they tend to become gnarled and twisted.
The foliage is deciduous, and begins to sprout in late spring, is lanceolate and small in size, the new leaves have orange tips, are medium green. In late spring and in summer it produces large orange buds at the apex of the branches, thick and leathery, which open into large tubular, orange-colored flowers. The flowers are followed by large roundish fruits, full of seeds covered with a juicy and acidulous pulp.
The pomegranate is cultivated since ancient times as a fruit plant, but also used in herbal medicine, in particular the bark of the tree and the rind of the fruits; the latter is also used for flavoring liqueurs. In the garden, in particular, the dwarf varieties are cultivated, which do not exceed 30-50 cm in height, or the flower varieties, which produce large white, rosy, mottled or red flowers. They are also used as bonsai.
A bit of news
Pomegranates have been known and cultivated for thousands of years in our peninsula. However, they have known, both as fruit trees and as an ornamental essence, a long period of oblivion due perhaps to slowness in growth or to fads that have favored other choices.
Recently there has been a real rediscovery that has made it common in city and country gardens, from the north to the south of the peninsula. In fact, we return to appreciate the harmonious natural form, the beautiful production of flowers and fruits and the undeniable tolerance towards poor soils and drought.
Furthermore, breeders have committed themselves to creating new varieties; the flowers are now declined in an incredible number of shades and also the shape and size of the corollas is of the most variable.
In the garden it can be used in many different ways: the isolated specimens can embellish a focal point of the garden, but it is also possible to create harmonious groups of shrubs or interesting informal hedges.
There are also very limited cultivars, to be cultivated simply in pots on terraces, balconies or even only on a windowsill.
The plants of Punica granatum love the sun and the heat, an excessively shaded exposure causes the decay of the plant. It does not fear the cold, but substantial prolonged frost can damage the weakest branches; in areas with a very cold winter climate or with strong winter winds it is advisable to place the pomegranates in a sheltered place. Dwarf specimens seem to be more delicate than those with normal development, so they are often grown in pots.
It is good that the flower pomegranate can receive direct radiation for a few hours a day; it does not suffer during sultry days, but can present problems in case of particularly humid climate.
Origins and history of the pomegranate
The pomegranate (Punica Granatum) is native to the regions between Persia and northwestern India. It is a shrub or small tree with thorny branches (although some ornamental cultivars do not have it). The leaves, deciduous, are oblong or obovate, opposite and with a shiny appearance. The flowers are axillary and range from 2 to 10 cm in diameter. In fruit trees they have a simple corolla, in many ornamental varieties they are instead double, but sterile. Their color ranges from yellow to orange to red. More rarely they appear white or striated.
In this species there is also the production of a large apple-like berry, divided into two cells. Each contains numerous bright red seeds, very juicy. The taste ranges from acid to medium sweet.
The plants of Punica granatum can easily withstand drought; if they are cultivated for flowering and for fruits it is advisable to water before and during flowering, to favor the development of healthy flowers and large fruits. Avoid excess water and water stagnation; watering at flower pomegranate they are administered only when the soil is perfectly dry, mixing, every 10-12 days, with the water of the fertilizer for flowering plants.
The pomegranate does not fear drought. Once well established this aspect can also be overlooked. Spring and autumn precipitation is generally more than sufficient to guarantee well-being. In summer we can water abundantly once a month, thus helping the plant to maintain its flowering longer.
The recently planted specimens must be followed more closely: for the first two years it is advisable to administer plenty of water every 15 days, if the soil is dry in depth.
The pomegranate in the garden
The pomegranate, as an ornamental plant, is able to give great satisfaction and, once franked, is very independent. In the early years, the flowering varieties have a fairly vigorous growth (and therefore not slowing down in showing all their ornamental qualities) and then slowing down when they reach maturity (around the fifth year). Maintenance will therefore be minimal.
The flower pomegranate prefers loose, fresh, very well drained soils, with the presence of a good quantity of limestone. The specimens grown in pots should be repotted every 2-3 years.
This sapling is famous for its tolerance towards poor and very dry soils. It is therefore ideal for cultivation along the coasts or in those green spaces that are not equipped with water sources.
However it will develop equally well in deep, rich and possibly clayey soils, provided that drainage is always optimal.
A good selection of flower pomegranates can be found in nurseries that are mainly dedicated to tree species. Before purchase, we ask for information on the size and color of the flowers, in addition to the final dimensions that will reach the specimen. We always prefer those with tags with precise indication of the variety or cultivar. We will be able to design carefully where to place it, what use to make of it and how to possibly set growth.
The best time for the plant is autumn, especially in the Center-South and on the coasts. If we live in the northern regions where the minimum falls below -10 ° C it is advisable to proceed at the end of winter, when the frosts are over and the soil is soft and workable again.
A bare root
The bare root plants benefit from the preventive rehydration of the root system. A bucket is filled with water, soil and mature manure, creating a rather dense mixture. Let the lower part of the plant soak for 4 to 12 hours (depending on how dry it is). We extract and wait for the coating to compact.
We leave the jar in a basin with water for at least half an hour. In this way it will be easier to extract the bread of earth without moving too much the hypogeum apparatus. If there were a mass of roots too compact and felted on the bottom it would be good to carve it with a knife or at least remove a part of it: we will stimulate the plant to create new ones in its final location.
We prepare a deep and twice the hole of earth bread. On the bottom we prepare a thick gravel-based drainage layer. Mix the extracted soil with small pebbles and a little sand. A good amount of mature manure is also indispensable. Make sure that the final compote is rich, but well drained. Place the specimen with the collar about 5 cm from the ground level. We fill the hole, compact and irrigate abundantly. To facilitate recovery it is useful to shorten all branches by about 1/3.
Varieties of normal size require at least 4-5 meters of free space in each direction. If instead we want to create a hedge or place it against a wall (perhaps by training it in a trellis) we can leave even 3 meters between one plant and another. Keep in mind, however, that many ornamental varieties have smaller final dimensions than fruit trees, and let us adjust accordingly.
The multiplication of this type of plant occurs by seed, in spring, after leaving the seeds in water for 1-2 days; in summer, cuttings are taken from branches that have not produced flowers.
Pests and diseases
The plants belonging to this variety often show the presence of aphids in spring, and of mites in the summer; poor ventilation and excessive humidity can promote the development of fungal diseases, such as hatred, scab or rust.
Climate for the pomegranate
The ornamental pomegranate It is generally a little more sensitive to cold than to fruit: the minimum temperature it can withstand, in an open space, must not fall below -10 ° C. Moreover, to grow vigorously, it needs a long warm season and lots of light.
In northern regions it is therefore advisable to choose sheltered locations: we place the plants near a wall possibly facing south.
Whatever our geographical location, the sunniest exposure is always the best choice.
It should also be noted that a period, even prolonged, of winter cold stimulates spring growth and flowering.
The pomegranate calendar
|Planting in the Center-South||October-November|
|Planting in the North||February March|
|Sowing (dwarf varieties)||March|
|Flowering||From May to September|
|'Pleniflora' or 'Flore Pleno' ou 'Rubra Plena'||Very double flowers, bright red||Edible but not very tasty fruits|
|Purple fruits||Bright orange simple flowers||Abundant purple-brown fruits|
|'Legrellei'||Large, very double flowers, orange with cream stripes||Edible but not very tasty fruits|
|'Scarlet Devil'||Bright red orange simple flower||Intense yellow globose fruits||Small dimensions: up to 120 cm|
|'Mottled'||Double white and red flowers|
|'Maxima Rubra'||Huge double flowers, very bright red-orange||Edible but not very tasty fruits|
|'Luteum Plenum'|| Pale yellow double flowers / td>||Very rare fruiting||Very original flower color|
|'Alba Plena||Double cream white flower||Rare fruiting||Rare, very particular flower color. H 250 cm|
|'Gracillissima'||Simple, red-orange flowers||Small purple fruits that remain on the plant even after the leaves have fallen|| Maximum 60 cm high.|
Suitable for growing in pots or as bonsai
|'Chico'||Small but very abundant flowers of bright red||Reds, similar to those of fruit plants|| Up to 40 cm|
Suitable for vases, rock gardens and bonsai.
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