The Punica Granatum (pomegranate) is a great choice of shrub to plant in your garden. It will bring color and shade into your garden and will also supply you with tasty fruit for the kitchen. In addition, it is perfect for that sunny spot where nothing else will grow.
An average plant grows to between 12 and 16 feet, although it can grow as high as 30 feet. The shrub is rounded in shape, with long, narrow, glossy leaves. If you prefer a smaller plant, you can plant a dwarf variety that will grow to no more than 3 feet. There are even bonsai shrubs.
Some varieties don’t bear fruit but are grown mainly for their beautiful flowers. Hummingbirds may come into your garden for these bright red flowers. Each flower is more or less 2 inches in diameter, with only a few big, round petals.
The fruit of Punica granatum is a berry, even though it doesn’t look like one. It is big and round with a thick, tough, reddish skin. On the inside there are hundreds of seeds with a deep red, watery and pulpy outer part. This part is edible and is called the aril.
The ruby-like arils are tasty on their own and can be either sweet or somewhat sour on the palate. They are a good source of vitamins, especially of vitamin C. They are often sprinkled over dishes like lamb kebabs or salads in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Pakistani and Indian cooking. If you prefer them with something sweet, you will find that they go particularly well with ice cream or yogurt.
You may know pomegranate juice already in the form of grenadine. This is the sweet, red syrup that is a staple of many a cocktail. However, the pure juice, as a mixer or on its own, is fast gaining in popularity too. You can also use it as an ingredient in sauces, marinades and a salad dressing with a difference.
Pomegranates grow easily, especially in warm and sunny climates. They originally came from Iran and Iraq’s Kurdish parts and have been grown in the surrounding areas of Asia and the Mediterranean for many hundreds of years since. This is why they grow best in dry, warm places. In areas with high rainfall, however, they are more susceptible to root rot.
Because the plants grow best in full sun, they are perfect as providers of shade to other, more fragile plants, like flowers or herbs that will scorch in direct sun. They are hardy and low-maintenance. Even though they resist most pests and diseases, they may be affected by pomegranate butterfly and leaf-footed bug. However, they are highly resistant to drought and you don’t have to water them a lot.
The best way to propagate Punica Granatum (pomegranate) is from cuttings. This will keep the new plant’s characteristics the same as those of the parent plant. However, you can also grow the shrub directly from seeds if you prefer. Either way will leave you with a plant that can only be an asset to the garden.