Pomegranate in trouble

Have owned this pomegranate for 12 or more years. It has been redesigned into a literati during the last 4. Removed old wire, one branch and re-potted it late Sunday on the advice of a well known expert who critiqued it live Sunday afternoon at our organization’s annual meeting. Did no other pruning. Monday it started wilting and has progressively gone downhill.

Only removed a small amount of roots during re-potting - those that were dangling at the bottom of the rootball. Tree was thriving prior to repot. It’s definitely in trouble now.

Did not water today (soil is damp). Suspect the rootball is not taking in water or oxygen as it should. At a loss to determine what happened or what to do.

Frustrating to say the least. All suggestions welcomed. Shady spot/light watering for now? Do nothing? Thanks.

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Maybe try sheltering from direct sun or wind exposure. Have you repotted before after the leaves have pushed out? My guess is this is the trees reaction to the repot no matter how minimally invasive it was. Give it some protection and see how it responds


Looks like the roots are struggling to take up water, and you have a lot of foliage demanding it. My priority would be to let the roots recover. I would also think about reducing the folia mass. Keep cool and shaded until the roots kick in. I have heard of people putting freshly collected material in black plastic to maintain turgidity.


I think the best you can do is keep it in the shade, mist the leafs every 4 hours if your schedule permits and give it the extra attention regarding H2O/O2 balance. What’s the name of your club?

Being a pomegranate that behaves like a tropical (in tropical places), I am at odds regarding either not removing any leafs as would be my instinct, doing a partial defoliation like @AndyK suggests or a total one. I guess this depends on where you are and a total one is perhaps too risky. If I were to try to err on the side of caution I would choose not to defoliate but mist constantly.


On the money Rafi,
I was thinking of a light prune, but it could be risky.


As someone with several poms, I agree with all the advice above from @AndyK, @Fletch_173 and @Rafi:

  • Those leaves are showing symptoms of low water uptake;
  • Move it immediately into a space protected from wind and sun;
  • Consider reducing a small portion of its foliar mass to reduce water demand (but don’t go too far; you’ll need those leaves once the tree gets over its initial repot shock).

My heart goes out to you! Having a “nice” “easy” repot go south, especially on a beloved tree, is so hard.


it is mid June, who will advice to repott a decisious tree at this time? Must be a real expert! bring the tree to him, he will know what to do…
Sorry, I think the tree will die!

Poms can handle repots post-first flush, especially ones without much root disturbance or reduction. Especially if you live somewhere that’s warm through Octoberish, it’s generally just fine.

I also know that pomegranates love heat. If you can keep them in a warmer temperature while still shading, misting, and blocking from wind, you’ll be in a good spot.

If I remember as well I think that when a tree’s roots undergo root pruning they use a few days to recover before they begin taking up water again. Correct me if I’m wrong please, but that might be why the soil is still wet.

I agree with @AndyK and @rafi as well. The problem with the removal of leaves is that you have to remember what this does for the overall health of your tree if it does recover. All of the energy used to produce those leaves are then wasted, and the stored energy that you’ll gain over the Fall will not be at a full state. Responding to that by being careful and delicate with the tree for a time to get its energy and health back up is important.

They can handle it, but what does that actually mean? A tropical can handle being repotted at many times, but it isn’t always best to repot at all times.

Do you have more information or resources I could read up on about how they handle repots after leafing out? I’m not trying to hate here, I collected a Pom after it leafed out, just curious about more information.

On top of all other pieces of advice, i would tilt the pot to assist with the drainage and H20 and O2 balance

Many thanks to everyone for the encouragement and advice offered up. Most ideas of what to do mirror my thinking. Debating whether to remove the last pair of leaves throughout (light defoliation). Easy to remove the tree from wind/sun and keep it well hydrated.

I live in northern New England. For those who asked, I am not willing or wanting to throw anyone under the bus, so I will not reveal a name. Suffice it to say, the ‘master’ who offered such “sage” advice is a well known figure in the bonsai world. Yiddish proverb states: “Seek advice but use your own common sense”. Simply put, I should have known better and therefore take full responsibility for the decision to repot.

Will do my best to nurse this tree back to health. It’s been in the family too long to just give up. Will post an updated photo if/when I’m successful.

Again, thanks to all for the moral support.


Maybe, but I’m not willing to toss in towel so soon.

I have never repotted a tree like this after the leaves pushed out. An obvious mistake I will never repeat.

Thank you to you and to Rafi for your well thought out responses.

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Good luck with the Pom @Richard_D,
And thanks for sharing the experience. We want everything to be perfect with our trees, but it’s only when problems arise that we learn the boundaries of what they can take. Unfortunately it tends to be the tree we payed good money for and not the one reduced for a quick sale, that turns its toes up first.

How’s it playing out with your pom? :slight_smile:

Appreciate your inquiry, Gordon. There’s good news and bad. As suggested, I placed the tree in a shady spot and closely monitored the watering. Despite my best efforts, the tree shed all but a few leaves within 1 week.

My wife encouraged me to stick with it in the hope that new buds would form over time. I had my doubts and thought the tree had died, but decided to maintain the watering routine thru summer. To my surprise, the tree back budded on most branches and has begun a 2nd flush of growth. Quite encouraging, to say the least.

Had planned to post updated photos after it fully leafs out again (still plan to do so), but since you asked, here are two photos of the tree this morning: the 1st shows the complete loss of leaves, while the 2nd is a closeup showing the new buds just starting to open. There must be a bonsai god looking over this tree. My fingers remain crossed. :sunglasses:


That looks like WONDERFUL news! I figured those original leaves were all toast, so I’m not surprised they dropped. The new growth is really encouraging, though; clearly your pom had some root vigor left! Now that it’s pushing growth, make sure it gets plenty of heat and water to rebuild that root vigor.

Congrats on it pulling through!

Side question: where did you get the material originally? Poms are my favorite and yours has a great trunk.

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I purchased this tree through New England Bonsai Gardens in Massachusetts about 12 years ago www.nebonsai.com. I agree - the trunk is special. Occasionally we are lucky in our search for something unique.

New England Bonsai changed ownership about two years ago. I store a number of trees there each winter. They are extremely helpful and knowledgeable, though I have detected a slightly more commercial lineup of trees for sale since the change in ownership. If you can make it to Rochester, NY for the US show in September, there is likely to be a number vendors with quality trees for purchase. Otherwise, as always, it’s hit or miss.

Thanks again for your enthusiasm and interest.

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