Author Topic: Vietnam Pomegranate - success! (and some other updates on successes)  (Read 776 times)


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OMFG, so excited - one of the first plants I ever planted in my yard when I first moved here, because it was one of the most important to me to be able to grow, was a pomegranate capable of withstanding humid tropical weather. I put 2 Vietnam pomegranates in as 3g from Top Tropicals, more than 3 full years ago. They have done absolutely nothing, grown a bit, died down, grown, died down with spider mite again in dry season. As with most of my plants, I do nothing extra really for them, because the point is to  be able to live off of what can grow naturally in my yard, with as little interference as I can manage. A few months ago, I thought they were done for... they had been doing really well, and then suddenly declined with the yearly spider mite outbreak to 2 leaves left on one shrub and 4 on the other.

Well, they like the water and heat apparently. Because it's gotten way hotter and more humid, and we have gotten finally some rain in the past few weeks (although still nothing like the rest of the state), and I walked past for possibly the millionth time and was pleased to see tons of leaves... and then almost fell down with a heart attack that there were multiple scarlet flowers!!!!!!


2 were open so I immediately hand pollinated. A bunch more coming. My dwarf pomegranate nearby has been growing a fruit now for quite a few months, so if I'm lucky that will be ready in another two months or so. But, you know, it's a dwarf, they only get so big, and they are decent tasting if you wait forever for them to ripen but not spectacular. And it's just the one. So I really hope the Vietnams can hold a fruit or two. Screw waiting another year, as this might be my last chance!

If I get to taste, I will certainly update on the quality... although of course a single early fruit might not be much indicator of future quality when the plant is several seasons into production history.

On the complete other side of the yard, I looked over at my newly planted 4' Wonderful from Willis Orchards (mixed reviews of my experience there, but this certainly impressed me) and there were several flowers!!!!! Holy crap, I just got that this year, and no wait time!!!! Yay. :) Never tasted a Wonderful, so again, quite happy to describe it later if I get a chance.

I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, so didn't get a chance to really inspect the flowers much to see a difference, but at first glance they all looked pretty similar to the dwarf ones. Pretty though. Would be spectacular if one day I had a tree full of them - I've never seen that before, but the leaves are bright and dark green on such thick bushy plants, and with flaming red flowers, a mature pomegranate must be amazing.

In other spectacular news, I walked over to the other side of the yard and the Blackberry Jam fruit, which only started flowering profusely this year after maybe 3 years of waiting, has 2 fruits growing!!! This is awesome, because all the delicious smelling flowers were falling off their long stalks, and since there is no pollen to be seen I thought it might be impossible to pollinate them and the plant might not bear fruit this year. It is just the one plant by itself - the plant next to it has not flowered yet because it is about a year younger. So that clarifies that yes, Randia formosa can self-pollinate. Interestingly, the fruit look like little watermelons on the branches, light green and streaked with white. It's very cool to look at. I don't know how long it will take to ripen, but I can't wait to try them, and I hope there are dozens more coming. There are indeed plenty of flowers, so the plant is worth growing alone as an ornamental if you like plants like gardenia and jasmine - these have glossy leaves and similar but large fragrant flowers. I did post a story of the single fruit I found on the plant from last season, but I found it out of nowhere after never even seeing a flower, and by the time I got to it all that was left was flavorless dust inside. So I hope for better luck now that I actually get to see the process.

In other great news of waiting it out, several gingers which I had thought dead for good did indeed come back this rainy season, which I only just discovered today! These include Volcano Rim and I think it was Butterfly...  Galangal is still of course going strong because it is very drought resistant, and I see the red cone ginger (sadly, not edible) is also coming back. The Siam Tulip, which is related to turmeric, is also coming back with the rain, which is awesome because it has good leaves for cooking, what little I've tasted of it.

I am also blown away by my Native Plant section, which for the first time ever is finally taking off. Not much to report on the endangered fruit front yet, but I am amazed that the Simpsons and Spanish stoppers are both exploding in flowers, which they never did before. The Spanish grows fruit all up and down the branch and trunk like a jaboticaba! It is so loaded with blooms I almost can't see any bark. The Simpsons, which made only 1 fruit last year, makes reddish orange drupes that taste like candied orange peel, and I am so looking forward to what looks like it might be a crop of hundreds this year. It would be my first major fruit crop of anything I've ever grown, if so. I have had many Strawberry Tree fruits in the past, but they were never all at one time, I never got more than 5 in a day. Then the stupid saltwater flood came and killed both my trees. :(  I did get a bunch of 40 Namwah bananas a year ago, which was my best fruiting to date, until the same flood killed that plant with its 2nd crop of growing bananas right on it. (Fortunately, the flood did not kill the mat, and new plants are already almost as tall as the one that died.)

I am not at a point as a grower yet where I can rely on anything, to the level of having steady food throughout the year. But, I do have survival scraps all year now, and a few happy moments of treats interspersed. It took 4 long years of almost daily grueling digging and literal blood and sweat (ok, don't want to admit to the occasional tears) and a tremendous loss of money to dead plants from plague, but finally at long last I am seeing the literal fruits of my labor more and more all the time.

**So to those who are feeling hopeless and discouraged and impatient, take heart! It may happen for you yet, any random day that you are touring through the yard just trying to dodge the horde of mosquitoes, and there it is... the thing you started this dream for in the first place, one of the original plants you hoped you would one day be able to grow. And know that even for those of us who don't use any supplementary water or fertilizer or chemicals, even for those of us who might have some unfavorable conditions, it might still be possible, even if it does take a few years longer, and a few dead plants more of trying.

The next few plants I have my eye on for the coming year to hopefully bring future successes are the Pink Manila Tamarind, my first ever seed grown papaya, the dwarf date palms, maybe the Surinam cherries (both red and black, which are finally starting to reach respectable size), the Australian beach cherry, the sweet Tamarind, and a number of endangered native plants. Oh, and the Diamond River Longan, which is flowering for the first time ever after being planted earlier this year, but which I don't expect to hold fruit this time around. And if I'm really, really, really lucky, finally the Guanabana, the Peanut Butter fruits, some new varieties of bananas, a few of the pineapples, the natal plums (losing hope there though, because for the 2nd year in a row I am getting profuse flowers and not a single fruit), and my blessed Mamey Apple.

You never know what's around the corner. Good luck everybody! :)