Week of September 16

Pomegranate

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Pomegranate is a delicious fruit and a beautiful tree. It brings beauty to any landscape and can make good use of the otherwise unproductive front yard space.
The flowers are bright red or bright orange which attract hummingbirds. The fruits hanging from the tree branches impart quite a show to the landscape.
Pomegranate is well adapted to our hot and dry climate. It tolerates our alkaline soil also quite well. It is one of the easiest fruit trees to grow in our climate region and is essentially maintenance free. One of the considerations when growing a fruit tree in hot climate is the tree’s requirement for total chill hours. If a fruit tree does not get its required chill hours during the winter it may not fruit in spring. Since pomegranate is a warm climate fruit its chill hour requirements are extremely low and not a concern in our area.
As it is well suited to our hot weather the tree stays healthy and is not easily affected by diseases or pests. A notorious soil pest called root knot nematode, highly prevalent in desert soils, also does not affect pomegranate.

Pomegranate has been used since ancient times as a fruit with healing properties in various ailments. We know now that pomegranate is rich in antioxidants. It is also a good source of vitamin C. In general it is better to eat a fruit rather than drink its juice as juice is higher in sugar content whereas a fruit has more balanced nutrient content along with slower sugar absorption.

The two common delicious varieties of pomegranate are ‘wonderful’ pomegranate and ‘sweet’ pomegranate. A pomegranate plant can be trained into tree or a bush form. If a tree with a single stem is desired, keep pruning the branches and the suckers that bud from the base of the main stem. Most of the nurseries in El Paso area carry pomegranate trees. Fall is a good time to plant fruit trees in our area. If for some reason you miss the fall season, pomegranate can also be planted in the spring. In winter the tree will go dormant and will lose all its leaves. As the spring arrives so will the leaves and the attractive bright flowers.