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NOTE: This post contains excerpts from my book, The Complete Mini-Guide to Growing Windowsill Pomegranate Trees: A Reference Manual for Northern-Zone Gardeners. The book is a comprehensive instruction manual for growing potted pomegranate trees indoors, and may be purchased on Amazon in ebook or paperback formats for less than the price of a fancy cup of coffee!

If you’re sailing out to buy a pomegranate tree with the goal of harvesting your own home-grown fruit, be careful about selecting a cultivar. Some ornamental types are considered “fruitless” and are grown for the flowers, not for edible fruit!

If you see a pomegranate cultivar advertised with double-flowering blossoms (extra thick and ruffled), it is typically intended for ornamental purposes. Though gorgeous, these double-flowered blossoms struggle to set fruit – particularly on a windowsill, where there aren’t many pollinators and you might have to stand in for the bees!

You should also keep in mind that the fruit might be seedier than you want to deal with. A soft-seeded pomegranate is just like it sounds; you can chew and swallow the seed along with the fruity aril.

A hard-seeded pomegranate is far less palatable, and you’ll have to spit out the seeds as you go. There are far more hard-seeded varieties than soft-seeded; one clue is the cold hardiness, as the hard-seeded types tend to survive better in cold temperatures.

Three popular varieties that are suitable for windowsill-grown fruit production include the following:

“NANA” DWARF POMEGRANATE TREE

 

Nana is widely available and a relatively popular choice for windowsill gardening due to its extremely compact habit. The shrub stays content to stay at about two feet tall without excessive pruning, and is also very tolerant of limited pot space for the roots. This cultivar is very early to mature, meaning you’ll get fruit faster.

The downside? Nana’s fruit isn’t actually all that great. Pomegranates can be a bit sour to begin with, but the Nana is definitely not going to hit on the sweet end of that scale.

Additionally, you should be aware that the tiny shrub also produces tiny fruit; don’t expect any pomegranates bigger than about two inches. The fruit is edible, however, and I can personally confirm that it will hang on to the tree for long periods of time if you’re looking for an ornamental conversation piece.

There are other pomegranate trees sold as dwarfing varieties, so don’t assume that any farmer’s market tree you pick up is actually a Nana. There are several cultivars available, many of them ornamental. 

BIG RED POMEGRANATE TREE

 

Although not as petite and easy managed as Nana, Big Red ranks higher on my list for windowsill pomegranates because of the larger fruit size.

It’s theoretically possible to harvest full-sized fruit off of this tree (although don’t be too disappointed if they don’t make it to that size… any potted tree is cramped for space and nutrients, and it’s asking a lot of a container-bound plant to produce massive fruit).

Unlike the Nana, Big Red is more like a typical pomegranate that does require chilling hours. However, the cultivar is advertised with the promise that chill hour requirements are significantly lower than many of its peers… so while it complicates your life as a windowsill gardener, at least it complicates it less than many of its cousins will.

Like other pomegranates, the Big Red is very vigorous, hardy, and quick to respond to additional root space. 

WONDERFUL POMEGRANATE TREE

 

This is one of the most popular cultivars for home-growing, whether in an indoor or outdoor environment. Be forewarned that this variety is not a natural dwarf; although growth in a pot will restrict its size somewhat, it will take some regular pruning to keep it a manageable size.

In its native environments, the Wonderful can grow up to 25 feet tall (although it’s commonly advertised as anywhere from 8-15 feet, and 12 feet is probably more within its typical range). 

Although the size of the tree itself can be a little more work for the windowsill gardener, the size of the fruit makes it all worth it. The Wonderful is aptly named; ripe pomegranates are very large, and the seeds inside the arils aren’t necessarily the softest, but they are very reasonable for a pomegranate.

Chilling hours will be required for this tree, but otherwise, there are very few maintenance needs. This is an all-around excellent pick!

The Wonderful is widely available in supermarkets, so if you would like to test out the fruit before plunking down your money on a tree, you can probably find in in any local grocery store than carries fresh pomegranates.

WHAT’S AN ORNAMENTAL POMEGRANATE TREE?

You may see some pomegranate cultivars advertised in catalogs or nurseries as “ornamental” types, with inedible fruit (or with no fruit at all). However, you needn’t worry about your kids being poisoned by the fruit of “ornamental” pomegranates. These fruits are considered inedible due to quality of the fruit, not due to toxic compounds.

An ornamental type is typically smaller than a fruit-type shrub, and produces many lovely flowers that may not set fruit (very common for double-blossomed varieties). Blossoms come in a wide variety of colors, so they truly are great additions to a patio if you aren’t looking for an edible harvest.

If any fruit is produced by an ornamental pomegranate, it is typically very small and very sour. The soft aril around the seed may be almost nonexistent, with very hard seeds that you have to spit out as you go.

You won’t keel over dead after eating the fruit, but they definitely aren’t worth the bother if you are looking for taste and versatility in the kitchen.

Be aware that if you’ve purchased pomegranates seeds to plant yourself, they may be ornamental, dwarf types. A hard seed is easier to pack and sell – but the fruit it produces will be just as seedy!

SELECTING THE RIGHT WINDOWSILL POMEGRANATE TREE

At the end of the day, putting some research into selecting the right windowsill pomegranate tree is incredibly important. This is particularly important if you are looking for specific characteristics such as ease of care or fruit production and value.

I always recommend looking into multiple resources before you decide on what tree to buy (and you can find more information on specific cultivars through Utah State University Extension’s “Pomegranate: Fruit of the Desert” article, or through Clemson Cooperative Extension’s Pomegranate factsheet.

However, if specific characteristics aren’t very high on your list, you have great freedom to experiment with the dozens of choices available from today’s nurseries across the country. I rarely see pomegranates for sale at local nurseries, but the convenience of online ordering has opened up opportunities to make highly specific choices.

Regardless of the cultivar, if your goal is a unique addition to your indoor garden, any type of windowsill pomegranate tree is an absolutely stunning win. Enjoy!

Not sure where to purchase a started pomegranate tree? Check out my favorite windowsill fruit tree nurseries!

Looking for more resources about growing pomegranate trees? Check out this post curating pomegranate growing information from experts across the web.

This post was originally published in 2022. The post has since been updated to keep information and links current.

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