It’s that time of year again in the Northwest. Our summer fruiting varieties are pushing out their final crops of the season, foliage is beginning to turn, and…the pomegranates are ripening?? Yes! You heard that right. We are head over heels about the success of this season’s pomegranate collection and cannot wait to share their beauty with those hoping to spice up their gardens this fall.
Pomegranates are generally mischaracterized as subtropical and constrained by the supermarket homogeneity of perfectly round, bright red fruits. We are here to bust that myth!
Originating from present day Turkmenistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan (see Mesopotamia) pomegranates are found naturally in a wide array of growing conditions. The dramatic mountains and valleys of the region contain vastly different soil types, topography, rainfall, and localized weather events. This provides us with dozens, dare we say hundreds, of pomegranate varieties suited for all sorts of growing zones.
All of us truly owe immense gratitude to the late Dr. Gregory Levin – a Soviet era botanist who faced seemingly endless challenges in his efforts to collect, preserve, and share all of these unique varieties we are so excited about today. He spent decades trekking through the Trans Caucasus mountains and Sumbar Valley collecting endemic varieties that were growing in shockingly harsh conditions, many of which we are now able to provide to home gardeners!
Dr. Levin’s obsession has gifted us with pomegranates ranging in size, color, taste, ripening time and most importantly, cold hardiness! Many of the varieties coming out of his collection are able to withstand temperatures down to 10 degrees F, reliably producing fruit in USDA zone 7b and some down to zone 6. Given the hot, arid summers common to their origin, pomegranates are fairly drought tolerant and most varieties require little watering once established, though some summer water does help to ripen fruits more quickly. Toss aside your image of a large, red pomegranate and begin to embrace the pink, orange, purple, and speckled varieties coming in all manner of sizes. Pomegranates are self-fruitful and their juice has seemingly endless benefits. For thousands of years pomegranates have been used for a variety of ailments and illnesses, with some arguing that it was in fact a pomegranate, not an apple, that Eve gifted Adam in the Garden of Eden.
While it may take a few years to bear fruit in some cooler climates, their beauty in foliage and flowers alone is enough to make even the most skeptical gardener swoon. A pomegranate in full bloom is a truly spectacular sight and we encourage anyone who is trying to add more color, texture, and overall sexiness to their garden to plant a pomegranate or two and see for yourself.
Reference below for some of our newly featured pomegranate varieties and keep an eye out for more coming in the spring. And for those who are interested in learning more about Dr. Levin, and trust us – you want to, check out his memoir, Pomegranate Roads and jump on the Punica bandwagon.
At OGW we offer a diversity of food plants and their companions from around the world. We offer unique and rare fruit and nut trees, shrubs, and vines. We've been sharing our passion for edible plants and organic gardening since 1994. We are a family owned and operated nursery in Portland Oregon. We ship our seeds & plants to all 50 states. At our retail garden center we offer seasonal fruit tasting, preservation and plant care classes as well as hold events in the community. We support local food sovereignty- grow your own One Green World!