Soil May Be Holding Back Pomegranate’s Performance

by Ms. Grow-It-All on July 7, 2011

in Weekly Column Archive

Q: I have a pomegranate several years old, never pruned and seldom fertilized. It blooms but fails to set fruit. It is not a very robust plant and has several dead branches. My soil is primarily red clay. Suggestions?

A: Pomegranates do best in full sun, which in our area is eight hours a day with some late- day shade, and although they are drought-tolerant, they do need ample water to set fruit. They also prefer sandy loam to heavy clay, with a pH on the slightly acidic side.

I suggest you first test the soil all around your pomegranate for pH as well as nutrients; contact your county extension office for the instruction sheet, soil-sample bag and box to mail the sample to Gainesville for testing.

Your plant needs to be pruned to a single-trunk shrub, removing the dead branches in the process. The big question is whether you should also move it or amend the soil where it is now with organic matter.

If you decide to move it, wait until fall when it’s cooler. Either way, fertilize it in spring before it blooms with ammonium sulfate or another nitrogen-rich fertilizer, following instructions on the label.

A friend’s pomegranate tends to produce lots of blooms but very few fruit, so that might be a trait of the plant in our area. Readers, any tips on pomegranates?

More heat-tolerant tomatoes: Donna Legare of Native Nurseries wrote to add to the list of tomato varieties that can withstand the heat of summer, including small slicers Stupice and Juane Flamme; medium- to large-fruited Blue Beech, Nyagous, Cherokee Purple and Celebrity; and Matt’s Wild Cherry and Herman’s Li’l Yeller for those who want a grape or cherry tomato. You can find more information about all the recommended heat-tolerant varieties I’ve discussed on my website, www.MsGrowItAll.com. All Donna’s recommendations are heirloom varieties except Celebrity, which Donna writes is an “F1 hybrid that was highly recommended by Art Cheek for our area.”

Art was a guru of local vegetable gardening and his show on WFSU-TV had quite a following. The book he and former Democrat garden writer Lacy Bullard co-wrote, Down to Earth Vegetable Gardening Down South, has been updated and the second edition is available at Native Nurseries and other local outlets. Because the information is specific to Tallahassee, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in growing food crops, be it a big traditional garden or a single tomato plant in a 5-gallon bucket.

Rain Garden Grant Reminder: Tomorrow is the deadline to submit an application for a rain garden grant from the city’s Think About Personal Pollution (TAPP) program. The grants reimburse up to $175 for plants, compost and mulch for garden construction, and you’ll be doing your part to reduce storm-water runoff and protect our lakes and streams, as well as our water supply. View details and download an application from www.tappwater.org.

Internet radio show: Ms. Grow-It-All’s Internet radio show airs at 5 p.m. today on Blog Talk Radio. This week’s topic is hot-weather herb gardening. Join us live at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ms_grow-it-all. You can download a podcast of the program, or any of my previous programs from BlogTalkRadio.com or my website.

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