A Pomegranate tree makes a welcome addition to any garden and growing them is relatively easy as they do not need much water or fertilizer. However, if your garden is a little on the small side, you might want to consider growing your pomegranate tree with an espalier.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Pomegranate trees grow best where summers are hot and dry."
What is an Espalier?
An espalier is a French word derived from the Italian spalliera, which means "something to rest the shoulder against." In gardening terms it is the process of controlling the growth of a plant against a wall or trellis. An espalier works well with many plants, shrubs, and fruit trees including pomegranate trees.
It is possible to purchase a fruit tree from a garden center that has already been trained as an espalier, but these trees can be costly and the espalier process can be achieved with very little difficulty on a young untrained tree. Though not difficult, espalier is an intensive pruning process which is time consuming and can take several years to complete.
Tools for Espalier Trees
Before you start to train your pomegranate tree you will need to have some vital tools. These include a trellis, which needs to be mounted onto your garden wall, and some soft string which will be used to tie the branches to the trellis. You also need a pruning knife or a pair of garden scissors to prune your fruit tree once it is in place.
When purchasing a pomegranate tree that has not been espalier-trained, make sure it is less than a year old, as training a tree over this age is much harder because the shoots are less flexible.
Plant your young pomegranate tree at least 8 inches away from the fence or garden wall, as this will give it the necessary amount of room to grow. The wall or fence needs to be facing south or east, to ensure maximum exposure from the sun. Tie the pomegranate tree loosely to the trellis and carefully bend the other branches into their desired location. Remove any unwanted branches.
Pruning your growing pomegranate is vital for an espalier. Pruning a pomegranate tree will shape it into your preferred espalier design. There are four different types:
Pomegranate trees work best with an informal design because this particular form requires less pruning.
TIP: Susan reminds you, "Be sure to sterilize all pruning tools before using."
The optimum time for pruning is in the spring when the shoots are dormant. Remove all flower buds in the pomegranate’s initial period of growth as this will allow it to reach its desired height quickly. Remove any branches that are not part of the design and also remove any young fruit in the first couple of years as this will provide the tree with more energy for development later.