Few shrubs rival pomegranates (Punica granatum) in terms of ornamental appeal and versatility. They are among the simplest shrubs to propagate, especially from cuttings. Pomegranate cuttings require minimal attention and will produce a fruiting plant in around three years. The cuttings must be prepared and potted at the right time and in the right way to ensure a successful outcome.
Pomegranate cuttings will root in summer or in winter, although the approach is slightly different depending on the season.
- Summer cuttings are softwood or semi-hardwood taken from new growth in early summer or early fall. They require extra attention to keep from drying out.
- Winter cuttings are hardwood taken from dormant, mature branches. Take hardwood cuttings from 1-year-old pomegranate stems. Wait until the shrub has lost its leaves and growth has stopped.
Gathering and Rooting Cuttings
Although softwood and hardwood pomegranate cuttings require slightly different treatment, they also share many similar needs.
Soak a sharp, sturdy knife for five minutes in a mixture of equal parts 70 percent rubbing alcohol and water to sterilize it. Rinse with clean water and let it air dry before use.
Fill a 1-gallon nursery pot with a sterile, soilless mixture of 1 part perlite and 1 part milled peat. Use a pot with drainage holes at the base. Wet the mixture and let it drain while you gather the cutting. It's important to have the pot ready as soon as you take the cutting.
Find an 8- to 20-inch hardwood cutting with a diameter comparable to a pencil or a 6- to 12-inch softwood cutting with a straight, pliable stem. Choose a cutting with plenty of leaves along the length of its stem.
Sever the cutting just below a pair of leaf buds using the sanitized knife. Cut straight across without sawing or making jagged edges. Remove the leaves or leaf buds from along the bottom half of the stem using the knife. Remove any buds or flowers from the tip.
Measure out 1 tablespoon of rooting hormone powder and pour it on a sheet of newspaper. Roll the cut end of the cutting in the powder until the leafless portion is completely coated. Tap the stem lightly to remove the excess hormone, then discard the used powder.
Poke a hole in the growing mixture that is deep enough to hold the bottom half of the pomegranate cutting. Stick the end of the cutting into the hole, taking care not to wipe off the powder. Press the growing mixture snugly against the cutting.
Place the potted pomegranate cutting in a warm, bright spot away from direct sunlight. Choose a place where temperatures stay above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a propagation mat, if needed.
Cover softwood pomegranate cuttings with a large, clear plastic bag to increase humidity. Prop up the bag with chopsticks or sticks to keep it from resting against the cutting. Remove the bag every day and mist the cutting with cool water.
Check the moisture level in the growing mixture daily and add water if it feels nearly dry beneath the surface. Water until the excess drains from the bottom of the pot. Do not let the mixture dry out entirely.
Check for roots by tugging gently on the pomegranate cuttings. Hardwood cuttings root in four to eight weeks while softwood and semi-hard cuttings root in six to eight weeks. Remove the plastic once the cutting roots.
Transplant and Aftercare
Pomegranate cuttings can be transplanted the year after they are rooted. Transplant them into 1-gallon nursery containers filled with standard potting soil and set them outdoors in a bright, sheltered area. To ensure healthy growth, provide them with:
- Regular watering. Let the soil dry out on the surface between waterings, then add water until it trickles from the drainage holes at the base of the pot.
- Light feeding. Pomegranates are light feeders, but a twice monthly application of fertilizer boosts growth. Water with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon 15-15-15 fertilizer dissolved in 1 gallon of water. Stop feeding in fall and winter, then resume in spring after leaves emerge.
Transplant the pomegranate into a permanent place in the garden in spring of their second year. Plant it outdoors in a sunny bed with fast-draining soil within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11, or plant smaller cultivars such as 'Nana' (Punica granatum 'Nana,' USDA zones 7 to 11) in a large pot with plenty of drainage holes at the base.