Q. I have pomegranates a few years old. Every year they don’t produce flowers until late in the season when everyone is harvesting fruit. I am considering every option including removal of the plants.
A. Pomegranates produce flowers on new growth in late spring when many other fruit trees have already flowered. Pomegranates are slow starters in the spring but once they start flowering they continue to flower through most of the summer and year after year. The largest fruit, percentage-wise, usually comes from new growth originating on larger diameter, older wood.
The balance between root and top growth affects flowering. The tree adjusts growth above ground to match growth and the size of its roots below ground. This “root to shoot ratio” affects flowering and fruiting.
If the top of the plant is cut back severely or damaged and the roots stay the same size, the top part of the plant grows rapidly and won’t produce flowers until the growth above ground again matches growth below ground. This ideal “root to shoot ratio” varies among plants, between species of plants, and even among varieties.
I believe you are seeing a flush of rapid growth in the spring either because of loss of growth above ground. The top produces a lot of new growth at the expense of flowering. Flowering begins when that ideal “root to shoot ratio” is achieved again.
If you are pruning this pomegranate, do not prune it severely. If you are losing the size of the top because of freezing damage or mechanical injury, try to protect it. If this tree can maintain its root to shoot ratio from one year to the next, this problem will stop.
There is a difference in tolerance to freezing temperatures among varieties pomegranate. Some are more cold hardy than others. If winter cold damage occurs, it is possible your pomegranate is a different variety from your neighbors. The pomegranate variety ‘Wonderful’ has been a solid performer in our climate.
Some pomegranates are “precocious” meaning they flower and produce fruit at a young age but all of them should be flowering by the second or third year after planting. Some flower the first year after planting. Some flower possibly as late as the third year after planting.If you can’t solve this problem through careful pruning, replace it with a fruit tree more cold hardy or suffers less from cold winter temperature damage.