Pomegranates are the darlings of the produce aisle: the big red fruits are as decorative as they are delicious. Their jewel-like seeds glisten in a salad, but a pomegranate tree can be the sweetheart of a patio garden, too.
The dwarf pomegranate ‘Alhambra’ is really an ornamental shrub — you will not be harvesting apple-sized fruit on this little charmer — but with all the characteristics of standard pomegranates. Small, glossy leaves give the plant a full, fluffy profile and set off the flashy, deep orange-red flowers through the summer and miniature pomegranate fruits in fall. The shrub only grows to about 18 inches tall, but it invites close inspection and has surprising presence in a pot. Flowers and fruits last for weeks on the plant and are very long-lasting in flower arrangements, where they are unexpected and very showy touches.
Dwarf pomegranate plants look pretty in an urn in an herb garden, in pairs on either side of a garden gate, in big hanging baskets, or even as bonsai specimens. They are semi-evergreen, sub-tropical plants, hardy only where frosts are light and fleeting; they need bright sun and well-drained soil to flourish. In cold climates they can be moved indoors for the winter: they adapt well to conditions in a sunroom or in a sunny window, or they can simply be kept in a frost-free place, like a garage, and moved back out into the garden in late spring.
Pomegranates are ancient fruits, native to India and Asia and prominent in Egyptian art and culture. In Spanish, they’re called granada; a famous 16th-century stone archway at one entrance to the Alhambra, in the city of Granada, is decorated with three enormous pomegranate fruits. The archway is also embellished with the allegorical figures of peace and plenty, great symbols for a pretty and productive garden.