If you have a sunny spot in your yard and are wondering what to plant there, you may want to consider the Punica Granatum (pomegranate). This shrub will not only brighten up your garden and provide some shade. It will also give you a supply of delicious fruit.
On average the plant grows to a height of about 12 to 16 feet, with a rounded shape and leaves that are narrow and long with a glossy finish. However, pomegranates can grow as big as a tree-sized 30 feet. There are also dwarf varieties that grow only to about 3 feet.
The flowers are a bright red that will bring color to your garden. In fact, there are varieties of the shrub that are grown for their flowers only. These flowers are about 2 inches in diameter, with only a few big, rounded petals. If you want to attract hummingbirds to your garden, these flowers are a good way to do it.
From fall and into early winter, the flowers develop into rounded fruit with a diameter of about 2.5 to 5 inches. The fruit has a thick, leathery skin that is reddish in color. However, the pomegranate is actually a berry. When you break open the fruit, you will find that it has hundreds of small seeds inside. These seeds consist of a harder core surrounded by a watery pulp, usually a beautiful deep red in color. This pulp is called the aril and is the edible part of the fruit.
Pomegranates are good sources of vitamins, especially vitamin C. You can eat the arils as they are, since they have a sweet taste with a hint of sourness too. They are also good with yogurt or ice cream and are popular in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian and Pakistani cuisine, even in meat dishes like lamb kebabs.
The juice is great on its own or as a mixer in cocktails. You can also use it in salad dressings, marinades and sauces. Furthermore, it is the main ingredient in grenadine syrup, the sweet, red syrup that brings the sunrise to a Tequila Sunrise.
Growing these versatile plants in your garden is easy. Pomegranates prefer warm, sunny climates since they originated in the Kurdish parts of Iraq and Iran and have been grown in that part of Asia since ancient times. They are particularly well-suited to Mediterranean climates where summers are warm and dry. Too much water, however, can cause root decay.
Although the plants will grow in partially shady spots, they prefer full sun. So, you can plant them in areas of your garden where few other plants will grow and then use their foliage to provide shade for smaller herbs and flowering plants. They don’t need a lot of watering and can resist drought quite easily. They are also highly resistant to pests and diseases, but the pomegranate butterfly and the leaf-footed bug may be a problem.
If you decide to plant Punica Granatum (pomegranate) in your garden, the best way to do this is from cuttings. You can use seeds for propagation too, but this may affect the quality of the variety. Whichever way you choose, though, you will have a shrub that will be an asset to your garden for years to come.