Ginkawa
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Location: Nebraska

Pomegranates in sub-optimal climate.

I have not yet gotten into this, and don't actually have any plants yet, I'm trying to work out a few things before I do. I'd like to try growing some Pomegranate trees, intended to be material for Bonsai type treatment some day.

the problem, I live in Zone 5. (southeast nebraska)

from what I've read, it shouldn't be THAT difficult to keep the plants from dying over the winter. ("just" a matter of keeping them cool but not outside-cool for the coldest period)

but how much heat do they need to grow reasonably during the summer? would say, a plastic sheeting mineature "greenhouse" and having them in a well lit area, do the job? or is only the hottest months here, the sort of temperatures it needs all the time, in such a way that the only way to effectively grow it, would be to have an entirely artificially controlled climate for them?

for Pomegranates to grow well, what sort of daytime temperature range is needed for what sort of span of time? how long of "rest"/dormant period is needed where its at approximately what temperature range(to grow reasonably well, not just survive)

I'd really like to figure out some way of doing this without having to have a year-round, 100% climate and grow-light environment.

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rainbowgardener
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I grew up with pomegranate trees (not bonsai) in Southern Calif. Pomegranate is cold hardier than citrus and will be ok with temps down to 20 degrees. It does need a cold dormancy, so it would need at least 6-8 wks of cold storage, but would not tolerate Nebraska winters. You would need some kind of semi-heated space, possibly a garage?, where it would be cold but not as cold as outdoors.

For the summer it likes hot and dry. 70 - 80 degrees is enough, but it will tolerate much more. We had one in our backyard when I was a kid and our temps were in triple digits pretty often in the summer. But it does not like humid summers.

I never quite understood pomegranate as bonsai, though. What happens when your miniature tree produces a bigger than apple sized fruit? It would look all out of proportion and it doesn't seem like a small tree would have the energy/resources to produce/support a fruit like that.

Unless you had something in mind like the pictures Gnome posted awhile back:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=167499&highlight=pomegranate+bonsai#167499
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Gnome
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Ginkawa,

I've been growing some Pomegranates here in PA for several years now and they seem to do well enough. Perhaps they would be more vigorous in a warmer climate or put on more growth with a longer growing season but so far I have not noticed any real problems with them. I don't leave them outside over the winter though as I do other species. Instead I over-winter them inside an unheated garage as rainbowgardener suggests.

rainbowgardener,

Your point about fruit size is valid but, as you are aware, there are different size classifications of bonsai so the full sized cultivars/seedlings can be used for larger trees. There are also dwarf cultivars available that apparently have both smaller flowers and fruit. And finally, there is no reason that a grower would necessarily have to allow fruits to develop if they would be out of scale, they can always be removed.

https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/graphics/emperor1.jpg

Norm

Ginkawa
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Rainbow, I'm pretty sure if I do this, I'll be able to fanagle SOMETHING that would work for the wintering. where I am currently living has a Garage (not insulated or heated, but could be a starting place, could probably throw together a semi-insulated cabinet or something that would do the job well enough. I'm pretty sure I could manage to borrow a space in my parents's basement for the plants as well, and I'm pretty sure that would be cold enough for it to have its dormant period (and perhaps do even better from it being cold enough to do what it wants to in the cool, rather than just not die)

I'm more concerned that they would grow at a greatly reduced rate, if they didn't ALWAYS have 90F+ temps during the daytime over the summer, or something like that. and it is relatively humid here.

like Gnome said, from what I've read many bonsai people simply don't let it fruit at all, and that others just use the Dwarf cultivar which has i think golf-ball size fruit.
though personally I think it seems like if the tree can make fruit that it would be good(call it a spiritual thing if you wish) to at least occasionally let it do so if it would not be actively harmful to the livelyhood of the plant. so yeah, it'd be out of proportion and all, but I figure that it would basically be that trees I was having fruit on would just not be in a "showing" state while that was going on.

from everything I've seen Pomegranates can develop some utterly awesome looking trunks and I think I like the way the leaves are and stuff.

Also, I'm figuring to not go any smaller than probably a foot and a half tall, and maybe even aim for something really quite large(2-3') depending on how things go.

Gnome, Thanks! that is quite encouraging. another forum I posted on about this overall idea... well they were much more pessimistic, to say the least.

I have an odd space problem, (the best place I can think of for them is basically building a platform on top of a portion of fence attached to where I am living, its our space, probably the least shady, and least in the way spot on the property. awkward, but its something.) but that aside, I'm thinking of basically building a mineature greenhouse type thing, (figuring wood or plastic holding up plastic sheeting or plexiglass. not sure if it would be worth it to use real glass or not) and perhaps some reflective film around the little greenhouse to help focus more sunlight and warmth on the plants?
another thought that came to mind, is that the air conditioner isn't THAT far from the location, and I wonder if it would do anything to try ducting a portion of the air(the air that blows out the top of the unit, central air type thing) into the "greenhouse", as this air would be warmer, and drier than the ambient air. I'm not sure how often this AC will be on(just moved into this house) but I'm thinking its likely to be enough to make a small difference.

do you have any thoughts on those ideas?

as far as actual plants go, I am thinking in the direction of starting from seed and hoping for the best. I was figuring basically starting with some Dwarf seeds, some Saveh seeds (super-dark full size fruit, and I think a little hardier than some) and maybe some of a more "plain" type, not entirely sure yet.

in addition to all this I am planning to try starting some cuttings of local trees elsewhere, but not nearly as sensitive as the baby pomegranates.

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Gnome
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Ginkawa,

I have not used any type of enclosure for mine and so far have no reason to think I need to. I'm getting decent growth without it. Never considered the air-conditioner idea but the heat discharged may be too much since the enclosed structure will have a tendency to trap heat anyway.
I am thinking in the direction of starting from seed and hoping for the best. I was figuring basically starting with some Dwarf seeds,
I got mine from purchased (full-sized) fruit so I don't have any named cultivar. Neither will you, if you start from seeds since seeds have the problem/advantage of being inherently variable genetically. In other words, plants that develop from the seeds of dwarf cultivars will not necessarily exhibit the characteristics you wish.

If you wish to grow a dwarf or named cultivar you should start with cutting grown material. If you wish I can provide a link to a well known bonsai nurseryman who offers both full sized and dwarf specimens in starter sizes.

Norm

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