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Pear Trees

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 3 Mar 2021 | comments*Discuss
Pear Trees Growing Pear Trees Varieties

The pear tree is widely cultivated across the world. Its fruit is juicier than that of apple trees and it is generally softer in texture. The fruits can be eaten raw, used in cooking, juiced, or made into cider or perry (a traditional alcoholic drink made with fruit of rare trees grown in south west England). The pear tree belongs in the same plant family as the apple tree (Maloideae, a subfamily within Rosaceae), and bears similar flowers.

Pears trees are medium sized, and reach to up to 17m tall. They normally have a tall, narrow crown, although a few species are shrubby. Most pears trees are deciduous (they lose their leaves in autumn), but some species growing in southeast Asia are evergreen (they keep their leaves throughout winter).

The flowers are white, although some feature a yellow or pink tint. The fruit shape differs across the world, but in Europe the classic shape is that of an oval with a bulbous end.

Types of Pear Tree
The breeding of pears has not been on such a large scale as apples. Some new varieties have been introduced, however, including the Bristol Cross and the Merton Pride.

Virtually half of Britain's pear orchards have been destroyed since 1970. This has resulted in the reduction of many cultivars, including the oddly named Vicar of Winkfield, which had pale yellow flesh and is firm, dry and woolly in texture. This variety can still be bought to order from specialist suppliers, but is no longer grown commercially.

Varieties of Pear Include:
  • Concorde – self fertile new variety. Taste is similar to the Comice pear but it is much easier to grow
  • Conference – well-known, reliable pear, most common variety grown commercially
  • Worcester Black – originates in Worcestershire in the 16th Century
Cultivating Pear Trees
Cultivated pears are derived from a handful of wild species distributed throughout Europe and western Asia. In England the trees can often be found growing wild, where seeds are spread by birds or mammals that have eaten the fruit.

The pear is very similar to the apple in cultivation, propagation and pollination. It is normally reproduced by grafting. This process involves growing a tree from seed, and grafting the cutting of another variety on to it. This maintains the specific type of pear grown, as those trees grown from seed can produce a lower quality of pear, and often an entirely new species.

Pear trees are naturally very deep rooting. As such they suit a light, sandy soil. However many pear cuttings are grafted onto quince trees, which are more shallow rooted. These are more suited to growing in large pots and damp, clay soils.

Growing Pear Trees
Pear trees can be grown in orchards, large pots or as espalier trees against a wall or trellis. Like apple trees, if you choose to grow your own pears you will need at least two trees to ensure the flowers are fertilised to produce fruit.

For espalier-trained trees you can buy a year-old tree and train it yourself, by pruning the branches so the tree grows flat against the wall in a fan shape or along horizontal lines. You can also buy trees that are two or three years old and already trained. This will have the additional advantage of bearing fruit more quickly.

They are best planted in autumn, and should be placed roughly 10m apart, although dwarf trees can be spaced just 6m apart. They should be placed in a sunny position in well-drained, rich soil.

How to Choose Your Pear Tree
Before buying your pear tree, consider what size (height and spread) is appropriate for your garden. The size of the tree can be determined by its rootstock (the lower part of the tree on to which different varieties are grafted). If its rootstock is a traditional pear variety it will need more room than if the tree is grafted on to quince stock. The label should also tell you how fast the tree grows and how high.

Planting Your Pear Tree
Dig a hole, a little wider and deeper than the roots of the young tree. Part-fill it with home-grown compost and place the roots in it. Tie the tree to a support and fill in the hole with soil, firming gently. Water well, and ensure it is well watered during dry spells. You should have pears within two years.

Pear trees provide years of fresh fruit, and there are so many varieties available that you can’t buy commercially. If you have room, treat yourself to one or two heritage varieties, they’ll provide interest as well as delicious fruit.

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Has anyone ever heard of a 'croft' variety pear tree...once grown in Surrey in the late 1800s-1930s ? I am trying to find any information about this variety.
ddg - 3-Mar-21 @ 2:40 PM
To get better pears how many pears should you keep on one branch,do i take the smallest pears off so the two remaining grow better.
Any old iron - 21-Jul-20 @ 9:51 AM
We planted a pear beurre hardy about four years ago. It was grafted on to quince A rootstock. Can the quince have taken over? The tree looks like a bush, bristling with branches but I think only one clear pear stem (lighter green, slightly shiny leaves with a red spot or two on a few of them) of the three main stems rising from the base. Is this possible and can I cut off everything that isn't the pear? Those leaves are darker green, not shiny.I would be incredibly grateful for advice, thank you.
baffled - 19-Jul-20 @ 9:23 PM
My two year old pear tree which I am training on a fence looked great in the spring. Since then all the fruit has fallen off and the leaves have turned black and withered. At first I thaught it may be dry so have watered it regularly. Can it be saved.??
Vs - 18-Jun-20 @ 12:08 PM
The reason why pears aren't setting is that no pear is truly self fertile so you need another variety of compatible pear tree to yours and pollinate each other. A William's pear would be ideal with the conference variety.
Pete - 15-Apr-20 @ 8:37 PM
I have a 5 year Conference Pear Tree that has never produced fruit. This year, had a few pears, but they soon fell and I was left with no fruit. However, since last year, it has flowered ALSO in July, which is odd.I have removed all the flowers, but would like to know what is wrong with my tree please. Thanks
MM - 19-Jul-19 @ 12:04 PM
I have a conference pear with about 6 pears on.It’s july but it’s now showing signs of producing more blossom is this usual
GB - 15-Jul-19 @ 7:54 PM
I have a single self-pollinating pear tree which has blossomed beautifully for the past three years but no fruits. The tree is now 5-6years old. This year there saw the best blossoms so far, however the flowers turn brown/black and fall from the tree in the slightest of breezes. What is wrong with the tree and how can I correct it?
Muckymouse - 22-May-19 @ 7:13 AM
I have a 3yr old conference pear tree. It blossoms well. The leaves are healthy. But as soon as the fruit starts to set it drops every on. I have not had a single pear mature. It is (self-fertile). Can you tell me why?
caz - 20-May-19 @ 8:11 PM
I have a 3 year old conference pear tree. the leaves are health. it blossoms well. But as soon as the fruit begins to form it drops every one. Never producing any pears. Can you tell me why?
caz - 20-May-19 @ 8:01 PM
i have 2 pear trees 1 has not blosomed this year 1 has but the blosom has died in a brownish colour they both produced fruit last year both are about three years old any advice please i aLSO HAVE A BRAMLEY COOKING APPLE TREE I HAVE BEEN HAVING GOOD CROPS EXCEPT FOR last year apples formed but wilted away leaves were curling up tree has died branch wise advice please
mike - 7-May-19 @ 8:36 AM
My pear tree has developed green tiny blister like spots on leaves , what is it and how do I deal with it ? Thank
Karen - 29-Apr-19 @ 11:09 AM
Should I cut off the blossom from a first year recently planted pear tree.
Bill Haley - 22-Apr-19 @ 12:37 PM
What comes first blossom or leaves on a robin pear tree please
Tina - 15-Mar-19 @ 1:42 PM
I have a bosc pear tree and this year it is loaded with pears. However the leaves are all covered with black spots and are falling off early. If it has a disease is it still okay to eat the pears? Thank you!
Mo - 25-Aug-18 @ 3:20 PM
lost first lot of pea size fruit two weeks ago now ten lots of new blossom showing will this mature.Tree is conference pear 5yrs old.
Bewildered - 7-Jul-18 @ 11:47 AM
@None - You could have under-watered or over-watered it. The smaller the container, the more important it will be to water regularly and not let the compost dry out. In summer your tree could require 2-3 litres per day. Something is seriously wrong with it for this to happen now after a healthy blossoming. Have you changed the tree position? Can you see evidence of disease?
Ol - 14-May-18 @ 2:23 PM
Have a family pear tree loads of blossom leaves ,after blossom died off ,all leaves died , and it looks like the tree is dying ! Never did this before this tree is in a large tub ,been in about 4 years ,
None - 11-May-18 @ 9:26 PM
@Dgp - I always remove any fruits that have not formed properly. But your pear tree should thin out naturally after the June drop. After that just make sure there is a few inches between every pear. Using your gut-instinct works best.
LaurieL - 17-Apr-18 @ 11:15 AM
How much should l thin out the young forming pears on my patio pear tree?
Dgp - 16-Apr-18 @ 4:19 PM
@Squiggle - if you're in doubt get a tree specialist in. You certainly don't want to be cutting it from the main trunk. It's worth paying to have it pruned by someone who knows what they are doing.
Max - 5-Sep-17 @ 3:31 PM
We have a really old pear tree that pre-dates our purchase of the house but I reckon about 40yrs old. It is really tall and fruiting useable fruit for the 1st time in 10years. I'd like to have it's height reduced but don't know what height to cut it down to. Is it ok to cut the main trunk down or will that kill it?What should I reduce it to? I don't want to lose the tree entirely due to poor pruning choices.
Squiggle - 5-Sep-17 @ 9:21 AM
Hi, I moved into a new house and come to realise the garden has a pear tree but I'm not sure what type of pear it is. Was hoping I could send you a picture of the tree and the pears with the possibility of finding out what type of pear it is.
Jules - 19-Aug-17 @ 12:36 PM
@Enjay - There is no specific time. Tasting for sweetness is the best measure, and the pear should come easily off the tree when twisted. Enjoy!
NicoLsn - 8-Aug-17 @ 12:32 PM
My conference pear tree has a very good crop. They look bigger than usual for thus time of year. When should I start to harvest them? Many thanks.
Enjay - 7-Aug-17 @ 12:06 PM
we planted a new paer tree this year which has just 2 pears but nearly all the leaves have dropped off?
poll - 1-Aug-17 @ 10:49 AM
@Pete - It helps if you have trees in close proximity but it only takes one bee to cross-pollinate from another tree. Great crop - enjoy!
Sarah - 28-Jul-17 @ 4:06 PM
I have 1 single tree that has had a couple of pears the last couple of year's,this year like 50 or more.This is 14 years old.Thought you needed two?
Pete - 28-Jul-17 @ 1:17 AM
I recently bought a home with 5 pear trees.They are loaded with fruit so much so that the branches are sagging.I have thinned some and tied some up.However, now that the pears are starting to get larger and ripen, the leaves are turning black and drying up.I don't want to lose the trees.Should I thin the fruit or give more water. Help!!
Monica - 21-Jul-17 @ 2:35 AM
@New homeowner - if the fruit is inedible there is not much you can do.
NH - 7-Jul-17 @ 3:08 PM
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