Mid-Atlantic pomegranate realities

Hello all you zone pushers!

I know a bunch of folks on here from South Carolina to Maryland and Pennsylvania have been trying a variety of pomegranates and reporting some success. I love pomegranates and have a half dozen gallon sized plants and a ton of cuttings that are hopefully rooting away. I’m planning on putting my Salavatski and Kazake in the ground this weekend, and maybe my Parfianka and Kara Bala Mirusal as well. Others I’ll grow in pots and keep them in the garage through the winter.

But as I’m about to start committing permanent space in my limited yard to them, I read Richards comment in another thread about different poms having different flavors and possibly lower quality in different areas and it struck me that even though I had heard of people successfully getting fruit I hadn’t really heard a lot of raves about the fruit they’d gotten.

So I was wondering if folks could share their experiences with the fruit they’ve gotten for different varieties. Was it worth it? If so, which varieties? If you were starting again would you commit space in your orchard to poms? I’m really hoping the answer is yes and that some of these hardy poms taste great when grown around here, but it would also be okay to hear that the reality is that poms just aren’t that great in the mid-atlantic.

Other poms I have in gallons are Desertnyi, Vkuzneyi and I have Asperonski, Sumbar, Hyrdanar X Kirmizy-Akbuh and Hyrdanar X Goulosha. The last 2 only get to about 5 feet tall but make reasonable sized poms, so I’m interested in them for size but am not sure about hardiness.


I didn’t realize POM’s can be grown in the mid atlantic. Are they similar to figs in their tolerance. If I could grow one in a pot I’b be willing to try

I have 5 in the ground in SC 8b, Russian, Mae, Red Silk, Phils Sweet and Parfianka. My Russian has produced fruit but the others are starting their 3rd year as cuttings. 14 degrees the last two years did no damage to the Russian and no damage this last year to my Red Silk, the others were killed to the ground the last two years.

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In zone 6 and zone 7, you grow Pom the same way as fig trees. Most folks control the size and wrap very well before the winter. You can grow them close to a southern wall.

I’ve seen POM growing in the open in Beijing, China. I believe Beijing is in similar zone to Zone 6, like Maryland or Pennsylvania. Most are used as ornamentals in outdoor gardens.

I do not grow any marginal trees, such as POM, persimmon, etc. Too much work and do not know what to expect…

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I grow Utah white zone 6 hardy Pom in the pot this year, don’t know the result yet. If it grow well, next year I can sent you some cuttings to try。 It is very easy to root.

So how did they taste? And about when did they get ripe. I think the ripening time is one thing that may be tough here if you don’t get good warmth through September.

Picture of Red Silk and Phil’s Sweet, which does have some growth starting from the main trunk but most of it is dead from cold.

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Yes, a lot like figs, although there are probably fewer varieties that are as hardy as many figs seem to be. Most of the hardier ones came from a Russia, Turkmenistan and the mountainous regions of Iran - many through a collection in Turkmenistan that was run by Dr. Gregory Levin through funding from Russia. You can learn a bit about the varieties through a book on Poms by Richard Ashton called the Incredible Pomegranate which is now out of print, but available as a PDF through a bunch of research sites including this one at the University of California:
Incredible Pomegranate by Richard Ashton


My Russian is starting year 5 and bloomed the last 3 and fruited 8 fruit last year. I had a lot of problems with the fruit rotting. The few fruit that did not rot were good but hard seeded, I think they would have tasted even better if left on the bush longer. I don’t remember when I picked them but length of season was not an issue for me, rot was.

I think the verdict is still open to some degree. I have had three varieties fruit and all tasted good, but I have not been getting many fruits. My big Kazake bush died back the previous winter, it was producing a dozen fruits a year before it died. Some of them rotted and all of the Kazake were on the small side. I have some other bushes that are 8’ tall but are not producing much at all. They are a bit like the jujubes for me, I have had some titillating samples but have not yet gotten to reliable production.


I think it depends a lot on cultivar. John Chater’s varieties (e.g., Eversweet) were bred in Camarillo CA and are probably less cold hardy compared to some of Gregory Levin’s cultivars from the higher elevations of Turkmenistan.

c5tiger- May I ask what you are using for mulch in those photos? I first thought pine needles (pine straw) but it looks larger than that. Just curious. Beautiful Red Silk, btw.

Zendog, I have pom envy of those of you with a variety of poms.

I have had one outside in central SC for at least 5 years. It is(or was) supposed to be a Wonderful, but I wouldn’t count on that since I got it from a local nursery that doesn’t always have things labeled correctly. It grew in bush form, much like C5Tiger’s picture, but the stalks are thicker.

This is the hottest part of SC.Hotter here than in NOVA. It endured one summer where the temps went up to 113 for a few days and stayed in the 90’s and 100’s all season. That was an unusually hot year. The past two winters have reached lows of 13 and 12, though the 12 degree reading was of very short duration this year. The nights when it hit 13 last year were during cold weeks where the daytime temps hardly broke freezing. The ground here does not freeze. So, roots were safe.This year’s unusually late freeze did not harm the pom, which was still dormant, even though the freeze damaged other tree’s new growth -including hardy figs.

This pom withstood a lot. I left it in the pot while deciding where to plant it. In the meantime, yellow jackets built a giant nest in the pot and the ground beneath. So I had to attempt to eradicate them. Once it was cold enough that I was sure that the yj’s wouldn’t be active enough to harm me even if any were alive, I found the pom rooted into the ground. At that point, I just cut off most of the pot and heaped a bit of soil around it. It competes for nourishment where it is, mostly from a monster trumpet vine root deep in the ground that is always trying to send up vines to choke the life out of anything they can climb, and wild blackberries, and a weeping butterfly bush that was not supposed to be invasive. It’s just not a good spot for most cultivated plants to grow well.

But the pom did grow well there, sending out lots of gorgeous blooms each year. The hummingbirds found it attractive. I found it worthwhile for looks alone. It did set few fruit compared to the number of blooms. That may be because there was but a single bush. But each year it set more fruit. Last year we got about 10. There were no problems with fruit rotting before ripening, or with birds attacking fruit. The only problem was when I would pick them one at a time, and when left on too long the over-ripe fruit would crack.

The fruits were full size. Taste and texture of seeds were about that of store bought. The white pulp was somewhat thicker, with slightly less overall juice content than store bought. That may be the type of pom, or may be the effect of our lack of rain during fruit development. I have never watered that area. So, everything in that part survives on what nature provides, even during the summers when we are in drought conditions.

The whole family enjoyed that pom. This weekend I bought two more. One simply labeled “Russian”. The other, Wonderful. They were in order to help me get over my mourning for the destruction of the original. Three weeks ago, the day before our late freeze, tree cutters dropped a large pine directly onto our pom.It was still dormant. Every single limb was torn down into the roots. I was going to do what little in my ability I could to try to save some of it, but they followed that up (while cutting trees that weren’t supposed to be removed) by leaving me with a concussion and other injuries that prevented me from doing much of anything for a few days.

I don’t give that pom any long term hope because of the extent of its injuries, but even though split limbs are barely connected to the cracked root, they still came out of dormancy, even if they don’t have much to sustain themselves besides their own stored energy.

I hope my eulogy to our pom helps you. Just sharing its life story helped me. :sunny:

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Since he’s here in SC, it is most likely long needle pine straw. It’s widely used as mulch here since we have it in abundance.

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It’s long leaf pine straw. We have a small plot of 20 acres of long leaf planted in an old field so I take that wagon in the top left and fill it and use it as mulch.


Muddy, thanks for your story. You and Scott are giving me some hope that the adventure may be worth it.

Your pom may still surprise you. If the branches are somewhat attached and showing growth you might even want to mound more dirt around them and they may root out above where they are cracked. Poms root pretty well from what I hear.

Zendog, were are in pretty similar climates. Currently I have 8 varieties in the ground: R-6 Al Sirin-nar – R-8 Salavatski - R-13 Sverhrannii – R-26 Afganski – R-31 Saartuzki- R-33 Surh-anor, R-9 Kaj-Acik-Anor and Kazake. Most are labeled as hardy. It got down to 9 degrees at my place this winter and all
survived except Kazake. A few of the varieties were in the ground the prior winter and survived 4 degrees. I am thinking Kazake may not be as hardy as some claim. My 4’ Parfianka is in a large pot on my back deck and started leafing out before the freeze 10 days ago. Got down to the mid 20’s but that was enough to kill the Parfianka to the ground. I would be surprised if Parfianka survives in the ground in your area but I am feeling pretty optimistic about some of the other varieties.

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Phil’s Sweet died here Zone 7 Maryland during its first winter. I switched to a fig.

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Well, that’s a data point for Phil’s Sweet. For Maryland though, I’ll report that my father was living in the northeast part of Gaithersburg in the early '70’s. He grew to considerable size and fruited 3 bushes of pomegranates – all of which were some old cultivar from Redlands CA – in fact, Dr. Tovey’s pomegranates! Her old home is gone now, it was on the corner of Campbell and Oak streets.

But anyway, I wouldn’t give up on pomegranates in Maryland. There are cultivars reported to be cold hardy to 5F.

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According to CRFG, “High temperatures are essential during the fruiting period to get the best flavor.” Well, that’s one thing I can practically guarantee them plenty of here. From May through September we have more heat than most fruits prefer.

The more I read about them, the higher they rise on my very short list of fruiting plants that I both enjoy AND that are well suited to the natural environment here without having me stand on my head to make them happy.