The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub in the family Lythraceae that grows between 5 and 10 m (16 and 33 ft) tall. It´s originated in the region extending from modern-day Iran to northern India, and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region. It was introduced into Spanish America in the late 16th century and into California by Spanish settlers in 1769. Understand that I could not miss an article about how and when to prune a pomegranate in this blog, given that it is a fruit as popular as exotic.

You will learn the best techniques for proper pruning, the right time to trim and with what tools to do it. Stay until the end of the article and you will not have any doubts when you take your pruning shears.

Note: Please note that the advice given here is general, this blog is consulted from many countries in the world, with totally different characteristics, what not all tips will be adapted in the same way in all cases. Once you finish reading the article it will be necessary to analyze all the information and apply what you have learned in the best way. If you have any questions, remember that you can contact us to make your inquiries.

1. Interesting facts about pomegranate

Although the main theme of the post is the pruning of the pomegranate, before getting into it with him we will see some interesting facts about this fruit. I bet what you want, you do not know one or several of them. 😉

  • The name “pomegranate” comes from medieval Latin “pomum” meaning apple and “granatum” meaning seeded.
  • The pomegranates are very long-lived, with some specimens in France that survived for 200 years.
How to prune a pomegranate
Fig 1: Pomegranate fruit
  • A large, dry pomegranate was found in the tomb of Djehuty, the butler of Queen Hatsheput in Egypt.
  • Carbonized exocarp of pomegranate has been identified in early Bronze Age levels of Jericho in the West Bank, as well as the late Bronze Age levels of Hala Sultan Tekke on Cyprus and Tiryns.
  • Hippocrates recommended the juice of the pomegranate against fever and as a fortifier against the disease, the anecdotes and the curiosities of this fruit being very wide.
  • Its fruit measures between an orange and a grapefruit, 7 to 12 centimeters (2.7 to 4.7 inches) in diameter with a rounded hexagonal shape, and has a thick reddish skin. The number of seeds in a pomegranate can vary from 200 to about 1,400.
  • The taste differs depending on the variety of pomegranate and its state of ripeness. It can be very sweet or it can be very sour or tangy, but most fruits lie somewhere in between, which is the characteristic taste, laced with notes of its tannin.
  • The pomegranate has many health benefits, among them; they’re anti-inflammatory, they’re good for the heart, they can assist with weight loss, they help protect your skin from damage, they could improve sexual health, etc.

2. Tools needed to prune or trim a pomegranate tree

As with all fruits, there are several tools you will need to carry out your pruning or trimming. Each of them appropriate for different cases depending on the age of the pomegranate, the time of year, type of pruning etc.

  • Pruning shears.
  • Handsaw
  • Chainsaw.
  • Ladder or scaffolding.
  • Basic safety elements such as helmet and gloves.

Keep in mind that you must disinfect all cutting tools before pruning the pomegranate. This will help to avoid transmitting diseases, you will have to do it before you start pruning and every time you change plants.

2.1 Needed care of pruning tools

If you want to extend the useful life of your pruning tools there are some basic care.

  • Use the right tool for a job and avoid twisting or straining it.
  • Clean and oil tools regularly by wiping an oily cloth on blades and other surfaces.
  • Keep cutting edges sharp by regularly using an oilstone.
  • Wooden handles should be varnished or regularly treated with linseed oil to keep them from cracking or splintering.

Carry out the previous care on a regular basis and you will be saving good money on tools. 🙂

3. Why to prune a pomegranate

Fruit trees, among them pomegranates, should be pruned for many reasons related to the health and well-being of the specimen itself, as well as to the profit that is desired from it, both in the aesthetic field and in the production of fruits. The main objectives are summarized in three groups, which are detailed below.

  • Take care of the health of the tree. The trimming of some branches gives vigor to the tree, since the new ones that are born will do it with a lot of strength and energy. In addition, pruning should serve to aerate the crown of the tree, so that the sun’s rays reach inside and give life to the branches and leaves of this area. The sun helps to eliminate certain insects and other pests that settle in dark and humid places.
How and when to prune a pomegranate
Fig. 2: Why to prune pomegranate
  • When pruning the pomegranate improve its production. The tree distributes the sap throughout its entire body. As much sap as the specimen destines to the dry or very damaged branches, they will not be able to bear fruit. For this reason, it is convenient to cut these fragments so that this sap can be better used by the youngest and healthiest branches, in which better fruit will sprout. In addition, the instinct of survival of the tree makes that when it feels attacked (this happens when it is pruned) subject for its life and flourishes before and in great amount. This, in certain limits, also favors production.
  • Give the tree a balanced shape. The pruning serves to cut the branches that by their extension and their own weight bend too much downwards and they prevent that a person can be placed without problems underneath them.

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4. How an when to prune a pomegranate tree

Performing the pruning of a pomegranate is something that must be carried out from the moment of planting until the last of useful life. Since they are not the same objectives that are sought when pruning a recently planted fruit tree, that one in full production, there are several types of pruning. The most important prunings are:

  • Training.
  • Production.
  • Green pruning.
  • Rejuvenation.

Since nothing has to do pruning with another, in the following we will develop in detail each of them.

4.1 Training of pomegranates

Training pruning of the pomegranate is a key aspect in the productive management of this species since its basitonic branch, flexible wood and predominantly distal fruiting result in the heavy fruits (350- 900 g) of the species arch branches and make contact with the ground. There are several training pruning schools:

  • Formation of plants with multiple self-supporting axes (usually 4 to 7).
  • Training with a single axis (trunk) that can be short (15-30 cm) or long (> 80 cm).

In all cases, the recommendation is to eliminate all the fruits that come together during the first three years. This practice when pruning the grando will allow the development of a more resistant structure.

As indicated, the weight of the fruit tends to arch the branches so, in systems with an axis, the use of support structures should be considered (Fig. 3).

 Training of pomegranates - Single axis system
Fig: 3: Support structure – Single axis system

In the case of plantations in multi-axis, each axis is usually be self-supporting so they are handled without structure, eventually propping up the axes that are tilted due to the high fruit load (Fig. 4).

Support structure - Multi axis system
Fig 4: Support structure – Multi axis system

A technique used in Israel to prevent excessive opening of the branches is the use of a «belt» of synthetic canvas that is tied around the entire crown of the tree at ~ 1.5 m in height (Fig. 5)

Training of pomegranates: Israeli support system
Fig 5: Israeli support system

For all training and driving systems, it is recommended to eliminate all the twigs located in the basal third of the plants (under 0.8 to 1.0 m) during the winter pruning to avoid that the fruits in arched branches come in contact with the soil.

4.2 Pomegranate production trimming

The pruning of production in the pomegranate is commonly limited to the elimination of suckers and misplaced branches; dead and unproductive, avoiding thick cuts, since the production takes place in the terminal part of the branch (flowers in wood of the year). It is recommended to perform soft winter prunings with the objectives of clearing the inner part of the cup, eliminate low growths (<0.8-1.0 m) and remove damaged wood.

During the first year of production the plants must be carefully pruned eliminating badly located branches and that are in the central part of the same, to avoid cutting productive branches. It is beneficial if it is considered that it contributes to increase the percentage of quality fruits, increasing the size of the fruit and the content of juice and soluble solids.

4.3 Green pruning

Many are the fruit trees that not only limit their need for pruning to winter pruning, but they also need pruning in green. This is the case of the pruning of the pomegranate which after the plant obtains 50% of foliage, it must be eliminated:

  • Those branches cross-linked poorly located.
  • Branches that are directed towards the ground.
  • Buds of the central part of the plant that do not allow a good entry of light and air.

Try not to cut more than 30% of the foliage, remember that the fructification of the plant depends on them.

4.4 How to prune old pomegranate – Rejuvenation

When our pomegranate has a certain age, or suffers a strong attack of plague or disease, it may need to be rejuvenated by means of a rejuvenation pruning. The same, given its severity, can not be done in a single moment. What should be done is a programming of this pruning, should be staggered in about three years, thus achieving a total renewal of the fruit.

This pruning of rejuvenation in the pomegranate should be acomapañda during the summer with prunings in green, which will consist of eliminating pacifiers, but leaving those that can be used for a renewal.

5. Prune a pomegrante – Importants tips

After all I’ve seen them here on pruning the pomegranate there are some key concepts that you need to be very clear about:

a) The pomegranate is a basitone species, so it tends to emit abundant branches in the trunk base, as well as pacifiers on the trunk and main branches.

b) There are two types of pomegranate formation, single axis or multi-axis.

c) In a single axis formation with a long trunk, it has the advantage of keeping the fruit wood more distant from the soil but it is more susceptible to the mismatching of complete plants.

d) In the multi-axis system it has the advantage that, in the case of unhooking, it is lost only one axis and not the entire plant.

e) Annual pruning should be carried out.

f) The pruning season coincides with the winter rest period (between December and February).

g) The pomegranate has two main budgets, the spring (harvest of the year) and the Of summer.

h) Branches that cross and interfere with the passage of light must be eliminated.

6. Training and Pruning of Pomegranate Plant – Video

To finish with the article, and as usual in this blog, I leave a good video (of the Shramajeevi channel) where several of the concepts seen so far are reviewed.

I hope everything was clear about how and when to prune a pomegranate, and as I said at the beginning of the article, do not hesitate when you take your scissors and start trimming.

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Information source:

ABC del Cultivo del Granado – Nicolás Franck Ing. Agrónomo, M.Sc., Ph.D.