Pears

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Botanical name: Pyrus

Plant type: Fruit

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Sandy, Loamy

Bloom time: Summer, Fall

Pears are a delicious treat that can be grown in a wide range of soils. Pear trees are also easy to make fit in small yard spaces, making them a good choice for gardeners who crave fresh fruit.

Planting

  • If you live outside of the dry western regions, you should choose fire blight resistant types and rootstocks.
  • Plan to plant at least two varieties of pear trees because they need to be cross-pollinated to produce fruit. Make sure the varieties are compatible with each other.
  • Plant in any fertile, well-drained soil in full sun in a place with good air circulation in the winter or early spring.
  • Space standard-size trees 20 to 25 feet apart. Space dwarf trees 12 to 15 feet apart.
  • For container-grown trees, remove the plant from its pot and remove any circling roots by laying the root ball on its side and using shears to cut through the roots.
  • For grafted trees, position the inside of the curve of the graft union away from the sun when planting.
  • Dig a hole that is a few inches deeper and wider than the spread of the roots. Set the tree on top of a small mound of soil in the middle of the hole. Be sure to spread the roots away from the trunk without excessively bending them. Do not add fertilizer or topsoil to the hole.

Care

  • Water the young trees well during dry spells to help establish the roots.
  • Apply a small amount of fertilizer early in the year. Add 1/8 pound of ammonium nitrate per tree multiplied by the number of years the tree has been set in moderately fertile soil. If you have highly fertile soil, use less fertilizer.
  • If the leaves are pale green or yellowish during the summer, use a little more fertilizer the next year.
  • If the tree grows more than 12 inches in one season, use less fertilizer the next year.
  • Be very careful when applying fertilizer! If you give your trees too much nitrogen, they will become more susceptible to fire blight.
  • For dwarf trees, prune them to a central leader system. Standard-size trees can be pruned to either a central leader system or a modified leader system, which is easier to maintain.
  • The central leader system features a central trunk with branches that spiral out every 5 to 8 inches, making sure that no branch is directly above another. The training for such a system begins in the early summer of the first year, during which time you should remove any shoots that form within 18 inches of the ground. The end result should resemble a Christmas tree.
  • Use spreaders to help shape the branches of the trees. These help the branches to spread outward rather than upward. When the branches are small, you can use clothespins to push the branches away from the main trunk. For bigger branches, use wooden slats with a "V" shape notched into each end.
  • Prune your trees regularly, generally lightly. Remember to thin the fruit as well, leaving about 6 inches between each cluster of fruit per branch.
  • After your trees are established, water them regularly.

Pests

Harvest/Storage

  • Harvest pears when they are mature but still hard. Ripen the pears at room temperature for the best quality.
  • To store pears, pick them when they are fully grown but still very hard. You can keep them in the refrigerator; they should last for about 1 week. You can also keep them in containers in a cool (about 40°F), dark place; they should keep for 1 to 2 months.
  • You can also can the pears for longer storage.

Recommended Varieties

  • 'Bartlett', which is the standard choice for pear trees. This tree type is average-size and produces medium to large fruits. These pears ripen to a yellow color. However, it is very vulnerable to fire blight.
  • 'Kieffer', which is resistant to fire blight. This type produces medium fruit and can be used in canning.
  • 'Anjou', which produces light-green fruit with a sweet flavor. This type is a good choice for late-blooming pears. Good for canning and fresh use. This type can store for up to 6 months with little loss in quality.

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

Pick pears when the fruit has a faint yellow blush but is still green.

Drop peeled pears in cold, lightly salted water, and they won't turn brown.

Comments

Hi all, we're in an apartment

By Rachel M. on July 31

Hi all, we're in an apartment with a lot of light, and I'm now growing 4 anjou pear tree plants from seeds taken from store fruit we enjoyed. They're all still small, but appear to be doing well. Do I need to have other pear varieties like bartlett or kiefer in order for these plants, once they develop in mature trees, to develop fruit? Also, can they be continuously maintained in apartments, also bearing fruit? If so, do you just keep clipping the top? Thanks in advance for any advice for this newbie "indoor gardener!"

About a month ago I got what

By wyatt komrosky on July 9

About a month ago I got what the tag said was a Gourmet Pear tree about a month later the leaves are turning reddish. The nurery looked at the leaves and said I need to fertilize with spikes. I was just wondering if I got the wrong tree and will it bear fruit.

You probably have a Gourmet

By Almanac Staff on July 10

You probably have a Gourmet pear tree and if it doesn't have small fruit by now you are not going to get any fruit this year.
Fertilize the tree and see if that will help. Red leaves can also be a sign of fire blight or crown rot.

My pear tree has very little

By Blue Sky

My pear tree has very little fruit.

How do I keep birds off my

By Blue Sky

How do I keep birds off my pear tree?

I use old computer disks. The

By Kriss on July 23

I use old computer disks. The ones with a shiny side. Tie them to the tree branches so they swing freely. They spin around in the breeze and the bright flashes scare the birds.

My husband bought me a pear

By yoyo

My husband bought me a pear tree. Two years now and no blooms. It has big long thorns. What kind of pear tree is this?

I planted pear trees last

By Stephanie Man

I planted pear trees last fall. They are doing great so far! The nursery said they were probably a few years old already so my question is am I supposed to pick the blooms off? I read somewhere that I should not let my trees produce fruit for a few years so the riits will be stronger. I cant find the information now though.

Thank you !

You'll want to thin the pears

By Almanac Staff

You'll want to thin the pears within the first month after bloom occurs, when the fruits are still marble-sized. End up with 8 inches between each fruit. Leave more fruit on the outer portion of the tree. You need to force yourself to thin or a young tree will be overburdened with the weight of the fruit and you'll risk having branches break.
With pears, you want to harvest before they are ripe. Do not let them ripen on the tree or it will affect the taste.  They should be firm and swollen, with a subtle color change to their skin.

We bought a house that has

By Vickie pence

We bought a house that has two pear trees that have not been cared for in at least 10 years. They are severely overgrown, have volunterers all around the bases, but produce fruit, although very small. One is wrapped in two or three vines of poison ivy/oak that wind throughout the branches as far up as you can see. How should I begin gaining control? Or are they hopeless?

Getting rid of poison ivy

By Almanac Staff

Getting rid of poison ivy entwined in a tree is no easy task. Here's a page with tips:
http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1015.html

As far as the pear tree goes, it's easy to renovate an old pear tree as long as it seems structurally sound enough to carry fruit. Here are tips on pruning old fruit trees: http://extension.psu.edu/plants/gardening/fphg/pome/pruning/pruning-a-sp...

How do I keep squarrels from

By Risa Mccraw

How do I keep squarrels from eating my pears

Keeping squirrels out of

By Almanac Staff

Keeping squirrels out of fruit trees is almost impossible. You can protect the crop of the pear trees with bird netting.
To keep them from gnawing through the netting, one idea is to leave a tree "for the squirrels" to provide alternative food.

a local nursery sold me two

By holly traynor

a local nursery sold me two pear trees probably 8 years ago. I got 2pears off the parker pear tree. In southern mn. The other tree is a luscious pear tree. They said these two trees would work together, but, no pears. The parker needs a late midseason mate...the luscious is not to be used as a pollinator. Really??? I never bothered to look at the tags till today..good thing I kept them. What can I do to correct this and what should I plant this SPRING?

How and when does one plant

By sam malloy

How and when does one plant from whole fruit? The whole fruit I have are not commercially produced and have never been enhanced or altered through chemical or bio means. I'd really like to propogate these guys!

Pear trees are not grown from

By Almanac Staff

Pear trees are not grown from their own seeds and roots. They are propagated from grafting. Read more on this page from the Penn State cooperative extension:
http://extension.psu.edu/plants/tree-fruit/publications/factsheets/growi...

I have a unknown pear tree in

By clare p

I have a unknown pear tree in my garden and was wondering when I should pick them, they look like they are grown but when is best time of year to pick them also can you blanch them and freeze pears please

Harvest pears when they are

By Almanac Staff

Harvest pears when they are firm and swollen. You don't want them to be ripe and soft. We would suggest that you just taste them to see if are sweet and firm.
Yes, freezing pears is a great way to keep them longer! Make sure you pick them when they are quite firm and not too ripe. Here are some nice instructions on freezing pears: http://www.pickyourown.org/freezing_pears.htm

I have a pear tree that is

By B.Daniels

I have a pear tree that is about 6 years old. This is the first year it has ever bloomed. It is full of fruit that never grew larger than a marble. It is harvest time and all of the pears are still tiny. Any idea why?

We have an ornamental pear

By Carrie C

We have an ornamental pear tree. The fruit on this tree is not edible and is about the size you are describing. Are you sure you have a fruiting pear tree and not one for landscape beauty?

Most likely, undeveloped

By Almanac Staff

Most likely, undeveloped fruit is due to lack of pollination from a shortage of bees.

The pear tree is near two

By B.Daniels

The pear tree is near two thriving honey bee hives.

If it's not a pollination

By Almanac Staff

If it's not a pollination problem then maybe you have too many pears on your tree. Excessive fruit compete with each other and remain small. Pears produce a cluster of flowers and fruit from each bud. When fruit starts to develop thin to about 1 fruit per bud and about 6 inches between fruit. Your tree will also benefit from some pruning in late winter.

hello, i just bought my first

By @nn@christine

hello,

i just bought my first home this winter which came with an ENORMOUS pear tree. i am trying to get advice for the care of such a mature tree... most of the research i have done is geared toward newer trees. the lowest branches we can barely reach on ladders. how do i know that the fruit is ok to eat? should i be spraying something on them or caring for them in some way?

Any pear tree knowledge would be much appreciated!

Here are a few thoughts to

By Almanac Staff

Here are a few thoughts to get you started:
First of all, an overgrown older pear tree can be renovated with selective pruning. Here is a good fact sheet on pruning a mature pear tree: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1150.html
Also, you need to test your soil to make sure the soil continues to be fertile; sometimes nitrogen needs to be added on an annual basis. Contact your local county Extension office for a free (or low-cost) soil testing kit.
When the tree starts to develop small fruits, you'll want to thin the pears so that they don't weight down the tree (and cause broken limbs or damage). We think to one fruit per cluster or eight inches between fruits on any branch. This will improve your harvest and size.
Finally, you'll need to implement a pest management program. Pear trees need pesticide applications at different points during the season. Also, keep the area near your pear tree free from debris; promptly remove fallen fruit and leaves.
As a next step, we recommend that you contact your local cooperative extension as pesticide programs vary state-to-state and are often changing.

My pear trees are covered in

By ray heffler

My pear trees are covered in flowers in the spring but few if any pears. Any that do form are small and deformed. The trees are about 15 years old and from root stock. Help, I really don't want to cut them down but if their not going to produce....

The most common reason for

By Almanac Staff

The most common reason for flowering pear trees to have fruit failure is lack of pollinating. Pears need pollinators, i.e. bees. Do you see lots of bees around the flowers?

I am wondering if a Pear tree

By Melissa Small

I am wondering if a Pear tree can be grown in a pot and produce fruit/be healthy. I am in Zone 5b-6a.

Thanks,

Melissa Small

Hi, Melissa, We haven't grow

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Melissa, We haven't grow pears in containers. Because there are no truly dwarfing rootstocks for pears, pear trees can be large. Well-pruned mature trees are 18 feet to 20 feet tall. They seem best suited for the ground. You could check with your state cooperative extension, however, to get better local advice! Here is a nice chart fruit that can grow well in containers: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg243

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