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Pear Trees

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 23 May 2017 | 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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[Add a Comment]
None - Your Question:
My pear tree starts with a lot of small fruit, but very quickly they turn blackand dries up?

Our Response:
If you cut open one of the affectedfruits and find small, cream-coloured maggots inside then it could possibly be Pear Midge damage.
FruitExpert - 24-May-17 @ 11:46 AM
My pear tree starts with a lot of small fruit, but very quickly they turn black and dries up?
None - 23-May-17 @ 3:36 PM
I brought a pear tree,it blossomed now all the buds have fell off,any ideas
Chief - 20-May-17 @ 1:14 PM
Hi my conference mini pear tree is in a large plant pot it blossoms brilliant get plenty of pepears on but they all drop off and the leafs go black and crispy can you help please.
Blackie - 14-May-17 @ 7:29 PM
Hi ,someone above asked about Harvest Green pear tree ..I have just purchased one from Homebase for £14 plus ,am gonna prepare ground then plant it My first fruit tree ! Not sure what to expect and know nothing about them however I will come back on here to read up
Jane - 14-May-17 @ 4:37 PM
@IanS - the poor draining soil may be your problem. It definitely sounds like it doesn't like where it is - one of the major causes of fruit tree death is wet soil :(
Cal78** - 12-May-17 @ 2:18 PM
I planted 10 fruit trees 15 months ago. All were bare root except a conference pear which was potted. This pear produced a great flush of flowers this spring, but no leaves. Now the flowers have dried up and the tree looks dead. Any opinion on what might have happened? They're in a sunny spot but the ground is heavy and poorly draining.
IanS - 12-May-17 @ 1:14 PM
@GardeningFran If the leaves cling on the tree and the tips of branches have curled into a shepherd's crook, then that's fire blight. It's not great and can kill a tree quickly. It can be treated as it's fungal. I'd take a leaf or two (in a bag - you don't want to spead anything) and ask at your local garden centre. You'll get the best answer and the best treatment there.
JaysLawn - 12-May-17 @ 12:14 PM
Thank you JTG - I certainly hope it mayn't be that. Will that cause the leaves just to go? I ask because elsewhere the twiggy ends are naked of leaves.
GardeningFran - 11-May-17 @ 6:01 PM
I've had a patio pear tree for 4 years. I'm now looking to buy another one from the same pollination group, but can't seem to find my variety of pear tree any where, It's called Harvest Green. Any help or advice would be much appreciated...
Hughie - 11-May-17 @ 10:15 AM
I have just bought my friend a conference pear tree,but he says the leaves are going black.Should they go like that or is there something wrong.
maggie - 8-May-17 @ 7:08 PM
@Gardening Fran - Pear trees like to be grown in a sunny aspect, with well-drained soil and good air circulation. Fireblight can affect your tree and make the leaves look scorched :( Jill.
JTG - 8-May-17 @ 1:49 PM
On my conference pear tree there has been minimal blossom, the leaves are dry and crispand the twig end of branches to all intents and purposes look dead and similarly crip. We are in E Devon, on heavy clay.
GardeningFran - 7-May-17 @ 6:58 PM
Stephen - Your Question:
Our pear tree is 2 years old and is being trained against a sunny fence. It has set lots of baby pears. It's May now should I thin some out?

Our Response:
You could begin now, or wait until after the natural June drop, which will do some of the work for you if your tree is carrying too a heavy a load. If you wish to do something now, you can remove the undernourished malformed fruits and thin back some of the leaves to allow the sun to get at the covered fruits. Deliberate thinning of the pears will produce a better-sized, ripe and healthy fruit. The RHS link herewill explain more.
FruitExpert - 3-May-17 @ 10:04 AM
Our pear tree is 2 years old and is being trained against a sunny fence. It has set lots of baby pears. It's May now should I thin some out?
Stephen - 2-May-17 @ 9:46 AM
I have grown a pear tree fro 3/4 years and each year the tree is full of blossom and conference pears form but then whist very small then turn brown and then fall off! Any advice?
jonc - 28-Apr-17 @ 3:25 PM
Roy - Your Question:
I have 2 patio conference pear trees in large pots. Last year these blossomed well but both trees dropped all their blossom and the only fruit was one very large pear!! The year before both trees produced a reasonable crop. Both trees are again full of blossom and I wonder if you can advise what caused the drop and what I can do to prevent it happening again. Many thanks for your help.David

Our Response:
There could be a variety of issues causing this. Container-grown pears need very careful watering throughout the summer if you want to prevent the fruit from dropping and the leaves browning. Over-potting (planting in a pot too large) can cause issues. Also, the reverse can cause problems as your trees need re-potting every year or alternate year to thrive. You can find out more via RHS page here . I hope this helps.
FruitExpert - 11-Apr-17 @ 11:25 AM
I have 2 patio conference pear trees in large pots. Last year these blossomed well but both trees dropped all their blossom and the only fruit was one very large pear!! The year before both trees produced a reasonable crop. Both trees are again full of blossom and I wonder if you can advise what caused the drop and what I can do to prevent it happening again. Many thanks for your help. David
Roy - 10-Apr-17 @ 9:39 AM
@Dez - have you considered pear midge? Did you look inside when your pears turned black? If so, you'd find small creamy coloured maggots which are the pupae. It's not an easy problem to treat so you'd have to research it further to find out.
Cal - 20-Jan-17 @ 10:42 AM
I have a young conference pear grown as an espalier on a north east facing wall. In year 4 it produced a dozen large well formed pears, last year they set but all turned black remaining on the tree for a long time. I wonder what went wrong. The tree is also suffering from pear blister mite in the early season - is there anything I can do about this? Thanking you for your help.
Dez - 19-Jan-17 @ 7:57 AM
@JI - How about the Wild Service Tree (sorbus torminalis) ? Which used to be more common, but are less so now. They are tall, but have maple, rather than willow-shaped leaves. It flowers white in ealy summer and has small pear-shaped fruits. The bark is smooth/greyish, but darker brown underneath. Regards, Pat.
PSGH - 1-Nov-16 @ 11:57 AM
A willow like tree on our drive has tiny and green pear shaped fruits about 1inch long which turn brown after falling and rot within 48hours.what do you think this tree is?
Jl - 31-Oct-16 @ 4:08 PM
I moved my Comice pear tree and leaves have gone brown Should I be worried
Janeta - 24-Oct-16 @ 9:46 AM
jj - Your Question:
I have a pears tree which gives us lots of delicious large conference pears but the leaves look awful They have small brown lumps on them.what are these and how can I help my tree please.

Our Response:
One suggestion is pear rust, please see RHS link here. I hope this answers your question.
FruitExpert - 21-Oct-16 @ 12:07 PM
I have a pears tree which gives us lots of delicious large conference pears but the leaves look awful They have small brown lumps on them .what are these and how can I help my tree please .
jj - 20-Oct-16 @ 4:56 PM
@Casper - hard to say, could be from a tree that's years old, hasn't been looked after and is in poor soil. Had the tree been looked after and nourished your pears may have been resplendent. Anyone any other ideas what this tree might be? Andy.
AJH78 - 20-Oct-16 @ 11:13 AM
Hi Just found a pear tree with pears that are small, similar to a golf ball size, seem pretty inedible, not much to bite off and pretty bitter to the taste.Would you happen to know the type b any chance? Kind regards Casper
Casper - 19-Oct-16 @ 12:24 PM
I have a pear tree, that is sort of narrow the branches do not stretch out like most pear trees, the leaves are dark green year around in the late spring early summer it grows real small brown pears on them about the size of a tiny nut.It does not flower like most ornament trees do, I was wonder what type of pear tree this might be?I had it for three years now and it is about 12 feet tall.If I could I would included a picture of it.Also it does not change color it just stays dark green leaves and usually it does not lose it leaves.
hughpuppies - 19-Oct-16 @ 8:16 AM
@Lea - you can't really stop the tree blossoming - it's all to do with our freak weather! Cold snaps and then the tree thinking it's spring again.
PeteT - 29-Sep-16 @ 11:56 AM
My conference pear tree came into blossom last autumn then had some tiny pears which fell off. all summer we thought the tree was dying as it had brown and falling leaves but now has started to blossom again. how do I fix this problem?
Lea - 28-Sep-16 @ 10:04 AM
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  • FruitExpert
    Re: Pear Trees
    None - Your Question:My pear tree starts with a lot of small fruit, but very quickly they turn blackand dries up?
    24 May 2017
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