When you picture a bonsai tree, you might think of a pine tree with lots of deep green needles and a thick trunk, or an ornamental cherry blossom, with seas of pink and white flowers.
While those are just two of the most popular types of tree cultivated as bonsai, there are others worthy of your attention, such as the pomegranate bonsai tree, which has its own following.
Here’s everything you need to know.
At a Glance: What You Should Know About the Pomegranate Bonsai
The pomegranate bonsai tree is one of the most eye-catching fruiting trees you can grow as a bonsai, with its striking, gnarled and twisted trunk, vibrant, petite leaves, and pops of orange color as it flowers.
Normally, a pomegranate bonsai tree can reach 60cm high, depending on the style and shape it has been trained into, and about 15cm wide.
The pomegranate bonsai tree (see also Fruit Tree Bonsai Care), despite its smaller size than its natural counterpart, will still grow fruit, so to help it, grow it as a bigger bonsai to stop the added weight from snapping branches or stressing out your bonsai tree.
A pomegranate bonsai tree can live for well over 200 years if cared for properly, making it a great choice for a long-lived bonsai.
You’ll also see it referred to by its scientific name, Punica granatum. Most of the foliage does drop during winter, allowing the shape and appearance of the trunk to really show off during the leaner months.
Starting off: Should You Grow a Pomegranate Bonsai Tree From Seed, or By Taking Cuttings?
Pomegranate bonsai trees are one of the few types of tree cultivated as bonsai that are easy to grow from seed. In fact, pomegranate plants are much easier to grow from seed than from cuttings.
Make sure you clean the seeds of any debris from the fruit, drying them off before planting them in potting soil, about half an inch below the soil’s surface. Only cover the seeds lightly.
For best results, plant them in a heated propagator, or use a heat mat beneath the container, and this will help cut the usual 40-day germination period significantly.
Pop the container somewhere where it will get direct sunlight for as long as possible, making sure the soil doesn’t dry out completely.
It is worth noting that pomegranate bonsai trees need the biggest pot possible in order to grow a thick trunk, giving it the best care, and avoiding heavy pruning.
How to Grow a Healthy Pomegranate Bonsai Tree
Sunlight and Position
The pomegranate bonsai tree is one of the few that looks like a miniature tree and is happiest indoors, unlike most indoor bonsai trees, which are actually succulents.
If you live somewhere that is warm and balmy all year round, you can grow your pomegranate bonsai tree outside without having to worry about it.
Pomegranate bonsai trees love as much sunlight as possible, as long as this is during the growing season. During winter, they do go dormant, so partial shade during this period helps the plant to rest.
Keep your pomegranate bonsai tree somewhere away from drafts or sources of heat, at a steady temperature of over between 73°F and 89°F (or 23°C and 32°C).
They do benefit from some cooler temperatures once they go dormant in winter, but this depends on the cultivar as to what they may withstand.
When to Water a Pomegranate Bonsai Tree
Pomegranate bonsai trees should not be allowed to dry out completely. You need to keep the soil damp at all times, but not completely wet, as this could cause root rot.
Water a pomegranate bonsai tree slowly, to allow the soil to absorb the water. You don’t want to flood the nutrients out of the soil.
When it gets to the winter months, reduce the watering, but don’t stop it completely. You can also mist the tree every week during the growing season.
A good way of watering your pomegranate bonsai tree is to put the entire container into a bucket of water, about an inch or so deep. Let the soil absorb the water through the drainage hole.
Should You Feed a Pomegranate Bonsai Tree?
When the pomegranate bonsai tree has woken up from its winter dormancy period, once you see new growth form in spring, use a specialist bonsai feed every other week.
Do not feed your bonsai tree for about three months after you repot it, as this will allow the roots to settle fully in the soil.
Repotting a Pomegranate Bonsai
It’s worth knowing that pomegranate trees produce many more flowers when the plant has overgrown its current pot.
Because of this characteristic, it’s worth putting off repotting your pomegranate bonsai longer than you would give other types of bonsai trees.
Only repot your pomegranate bonsai every four years, in the last few weeks of winter. Choose a slightly bigger pot, and well-draining, bonsai compost.
How and When to Prune a Pomegranate Bonsai Tree
During the growing season, you can pinch off the first or third leaf of a shoot, which will help thicken the leaves overall.
Other than that, let new growth mature into longer branches before you cut them.
Don’t prune your pomegranate bonsai tree in the winter, and avoid trying to wire dwarf pomegranate trees, otherwise they will suffer.
To shape young pomegranate bonsai trees, let the branches grow out until they grow woody, and then you can back bud the growth.
Problems to Watch Out For
There are several beasties to watch out for when growing a pomegranate tree as a bonsai.
Whitefly, aphids, and pomegranate butterfly caterpillars will all decimate your bonsai tree if you don’t catch them early enough.
Whitefly often appears on those pomegranate bonsai trees which are grown inside, so always check the undersides of the leaves when you water the plant.
Most pests can be prevented by giving the plant the right conditions in order to thrive. It also benefits if you use a preventative spray on the leaves to stop any infestation occurring.
One of the biggest killers of a young bonsai tree is mold. Warm temperatures, wet weather, and not enough air circulation around the plant creates the perfect environment for mold to thrive.
Make sure you have plenty of airflow around your pomegranate bonsai tree, ensuring that no branches cross each other, or crowd too closely together.