Are there any pomegranates for me (7a/6b)

I’ve perused many threads here and read elsewhere, but I’ve seen many conflicting statements, some uncertain ones, and some that were over my head! So please try to give me (and probably others with similar questions) a little help with cold hardy pomegranates (Russian, etc). I have a couple questions. One, is it in any way realistic for me to try any of them in my zone 7a/6b (I’m on the line) location on the KY/TN border? Our winters usually have a few nights that hit zero, but rarely much lower than -5 f. In fact, we only get to -5 to -8 about once every 2-3 years. If you all think there are any pomegranates that could survive here, I’d like to ask which ones you think would be best. Keep in mind that I’m not interested in purely ornamentals- I want the best fruit possible. Thanks all.

You are in a similar situation as me.

Salavatski Russian #8 is your best shot.

I planted one a few years ago, but it got killed by a late frost just as it was leafing out. It did try to grow back from the roots, but petered out. I plan to try again when my finances allow, and take better care of it next time. Others here in z7a have had limited success with it.

Lyubimy (aka “Favorite”) may be the next in line for cold hardiness (rumors of plants surviving in Rockville, Maryland and Falls Church, Virginia), followed by:

Surh-Anor Russian #33 (I’ve heard it establishes well as cold as z7b).

Nikitski Ranni Russian #19 might also work but needs further evaluation…

Frankly, I think you’re headed for a disappointment if you want to grow pomegranate trees in the ground. A better option would be growing them in pots and moving them for winter into a protected place (garage/basement/etc.). Then you will not be restricted by hardiness and will be able to select varieties based on taste. Pomegranate trees are compact and well suited for growing in pots. Moving them probably will be less work than trying to protect in-ground trees during harsh winters.

I would like to point out that the word “Russian” in the names does not mean that any of these varieties are grown in Russia. Most are from Turkmenistan which is a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, while the Nikitski Botanical Garden is on the southern coast of the Crimea, in a subtropical climate zone.

Cityman, it sounds like I am one zone warmer than you - my lows are usually 5-7F but sometimes 2-4F (and very rarely 0-2F, i.e. every 20 years). But I would say I am about as cold as you could consider for growing pomegranates outside uncovered. The last two winters had lows in the 4-6F range but I lost nearly all my poms including a large Kazake that had made it through half a dozen winters OK. These last two winters we had long stretches of cold and windy, its not just the lowest low that is the decider.

Anyway, if you really want to try I would cover or pot them. I used an aluminum bubble wrap insulation cover on some young poms for a few years and I never lost any wood on them.

Scott,

Remind us please: which few poms survived?

I’m not sure the difference really matters much. The previous winter all of them died to the ground. Before that Salavatski was the only one that did not die back, it and “Russian 8” which many people think is Salavatski. Kazake seems to be more hardy in the wood but seems to bud out a bit earlier so can get zapped.

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Your best bet is to call Cindy at Green Sea farms in Florida. She sells
a wide variety of Poms and is extremely knowledgeable and helpful.
She can answer all of your questions.

Ask me again in 3 years. I currently have 3 pomegranate seedlings in the ground, but this is their first winter. I’m only giving them minimal protection.

I grew them from seeds given me by Bass, who is also in the 6b zone. They were from a bush he was successfully growing outside, although I think he grew it very close to his house. But he has something of a magic touch in this area. If I can replicate the success, then we have real evidence for 6b pomegranate viability.

(I have no idea what variety the parent was).

I have a Nikitski Ranni and Favorite on order to be planted in a few weeks. I am probably 4-5 degrees warmer than Scott (in Northern VA) and so don’t have my hopes up too much that they will really do well.

Put me in the camp that that doesn’t believe zone 6 is real encouraging for Pomegranates. I am 7a and put in about 30 cultivars in ground this summer that I had sized up for a couple years in pots. This winter my low has been 12f briefly and couple other times in that same range, so I am expecting more survivors that if I had the around 0F I saw the last 2 years, where thought I lost all but Kazake of the 8? Cultivar I had in ground and Kazake was dead to ground, but came back. Last fall when digging out Salavatski to replace with a persimmon I found some shoots trying to emerge. The prior winters I had none of those 8 show much damage, but they were more a 7b maybe even 8 winter. I don’t believe Pomegranates are long term a good potted plant either , you might get a few fruit but the plants don’t seem as happy potted as a fig.

Given the experiences reported here, it isn’t surprising that I haven’t had any success with them in conditions similar to Kevin (and colder than Scott). We normally get down to -2 to -4F. Last year was -9, the coldest in 6 years. This year, the low is +8 so far, downright balmy. But, next weekend we are forecast to get to almost 0 (+1F). If that is the lowest it gets, maybe my persimmons and muscadine will be OK, but pomegranates don’t have a chance.

I still have a few poms in fabric pots, but they don’t put on any growth or have fruit. Maybe I should dig holes for them and dig up the pots each fall.

SO glad to see that I wasn’t the only one interested in hardy Pomegranates. But in spite of all the really nice and helpful comments, you guys have probably talked me out of trying them. (which may be a good thing). In spite of the actual zone numbers, the winter lows where I am are actually very similar to Scott’s. As I’ve said, we get to zero and even -1 to -3 almost every year at least once or twice, and -5 to -7 every 3 years or so. (hit -8 winter before last but of course that was an unusual winter). If you’re wondering, these temps probably are a few degrees cooler than the rest of TN…I’m right on the northern state line and in a flat, windy area that is even cooler than places 25 miles away on both sides.
I was afraid I’d get the recommendation to put them and bring them in each winter. :slight_smile: The problem with that is I already have several figs I do that with and am considering a few other things that I like better than pomegranates. My garage is, I must confess, already pretty cluttered so not lots of room left. And its a lot of work keeping potted things watered (for me). (I do have outside figs too and they live but get killed to the ground most years-though NOT THIS YEAR SO FAR!)
I’m bad about trying things which have only a small chance of ever producing (sweet cherries, apricots, etc) but at least most of them can SURVIVE in ground and therefore aren’t much work in the (many) years they don’t produce. Its one thing to just wait for a long shot, its another to work my tail off on one. Thanks so much for all the info.