If you’re lucky enough to grow pomegranate trees where you are, you may occasionally see leaf curling. Several insects and disorders can cause pomegranate leaf problems. Find out why the leaves curl on pomegranates and what you can do about it in this article.
Pests That Cause Pomegranate Leaf Curl
Small, sucking insects are a common cause of curling pomegranate leaves and include:
These insects feed on the sap in the leaves, and as they remove the sap, the leaves curl. The little insects also secrete a sweet, sticky substance called honeydew, which quickly becomes infested with black sooty mold. If your pomegranate tree leaves are curling, look for spots of black sooty mold to determine whether these insects are the cause.
In a healthy environment where you haven’t used insecticides, there are a number of natural enemy insects to keep the small pest insects in check, so the damage will be minimal. Toxic insecticides are much more effective against the beneficial insects than against the pest insects. As a result, toxic insecticides make problems with whiteflies, aphids, mealybugs and scale insects even worse.
If you don’t have enough naturally occurring beneficial insects, you can buy them for release onto your pomegranate tree. Good choices include lacewings, lady beetles and syrphid flies. If they aren’t available locally, you can order beneficial insects on the Internet.
Another control option is to spray the tree with horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps or neem oil. These insecticides aren’t as harmful to the natural enemies and do a good job of controlling pest insects if you catch them while they are young. The drawback is that they only kill insects when they come into direct contact. You’ll have to coat the leaves completely and reapply a few times to get the pests under control.
Another insect that causes pomegranate leaf curl is the leafroller. These insects are moth larvae that roll themselves up inside leaves and then secure them with silk webbing. They are heavy feeders, and they can completely defoliate a tree if there are enough of them. They have several natural enemies, including tachinid flies, which are available commercially. It is hard to spray leafrollers with insecticides because they are hidden inside the leaves. You might have success with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which sticks to the leaves and kills the caterpillars when they eat the leaves. Bt isn’t harmful to birds that eat the caterpillars.
Other Reasons for Curling Pomegranate Leaves
Additionally, if there is a deficiency of calcium, ammonium or magnesium, this might cause the leaf tips to turn brown and curl sharply downward. If the tips of the leaves discolor and curl into a hook shape, try using a fertilizer that contains micronutrients. If the fertilizer doesn’t solve the problem, your cooperative extension agent may be able to help you diagnose the deficiency.