How to Care for a Pear Tree
- Latin name: Pyrus
- Hardiness: Fully hardy. Suitable for growing across the UK and Ireland
- Pollination: Variable. Dependent on variety.
- Height and spread: Variable. Dependent on rootstock.
- Flowering: Spring
- Harvesting: Late Summer / Autumn
- Difficulty: Easy
Pears truly are a wonderful fruit, and anyone who is lucky enough to receive a pear tree gift will find it is an asset to the garden - especially in late summer and autumn, when harvest time arrives! These quintessentially British fruits grow brilliantly in our climate, which means that once they are established, most pear trees will require very little care whatsoever.
All of our pear trees have been expertly grafted onto rootstocks which will control the eventual height of your pear tree, and dictate where it can be planted. So knowing the rootstock in advance will help you to choose the right size of pear tree for your garden. To keep it nice and simple, our pears trees come in two sizes; the individual rootstocks for every variety is available on the product page on our website.
Having been grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks, our dwarf pear trees will grow to a maximum height of 7ft / just over 2m. Dwarf pear trees are suitable for growing in a pot or planting in the ground.
Alternatively, we also stock a variety of pears that are grafted onto Quince A rootstock. Pear trees on this rootstock will reach between 3-4m / 10 - 13 ft when fully grown. These lovely pear trees will look gorgeous in the garden, but are not suitable for growing in pots. All of our full sized pear trees have received the RHS award for garden merit, indicating that they are fantastic varieties to go for.
When you receive your pear tree gift, it is important that you remove it from the outer packaging immediately and store it in a suitable place until you are ready to plant it. In winter, it is a good idea to store the tree in a shed/garage to prevent frost damage. Plant when the tree is dormant and the roots are not growing. Either September/October or late February/March as the ground can become frozen solid in intervening months.
When choosing a planting site, look for somewhere that gets plenty of sunshine but is sheltered from strong wind and frost; all fruit trees need sunshine to ripen their fruit. Your pear tree will do best if planted into deep, well draining, loamy soil.
An hour before planting your pear tree, water the pot thoroughly. Remove the tree from its container and gently tease out the roots. Prune any that are damaged or broken. Dig a hole roughly three times the width of the trees roots, but no deeper. then plant the tree with the bud union at ground level. Back fill any gaps with the soil mix you removed earlier.
Dwarf pear trees will require repotting into a larger container in the first 12 months, then every two - three years until they reaches its full height. Look out for the following signs that your pear tree is ready for a new home:
- does your pear tree look less healthy than it used to?
- does it seem to dry out quicker?
- are there roots growing out of the holes in the bottom of the pots?
- have the pear tree been in the same pot for three years or more?
Remember to always choose deep pots with drainage holes! Try to repot in the winter months to minimise the risk of damaging the roots.
Some tips for repotting
- the soil in the pot should be slightly moist; water thoroughly an hour before repotting to achieve this.
- loosen the soil around the edge of the pot and pull the pear tree out by the base of the main stem
- if you are moving your tree to a bigger pot, add some extra soil into the bottom of the pot before you insert the plant
- fill in with a mix of soil and compost.
- water the plant thoroughly, and keep it well watered for several weeks
Once the tree is fully grown, it will be too big for repotting, but you will still need to replace 30-50% of the compost every other year, so the tree does not exhaust its supply of nutrients.
Feeding your pear tree will help it to gain all the nutrients it needs to fruit. Early spring is an ideal time, and we would advise using a granular rose fertiliser according to packet instructions, as these are potassium rich.
Mulching is the term used for the layer of organic material that is placed on top of the soil around your plants every year. It has a whole host of benefits, including keeping the soil moist and nutrient rich throughout summer and discouraging weeds. The best time to do this is in late Spring (April-May) or Autumn (October).
First, prepare the ground by removing debris and weeds and water the surface of the soil if it is dry, Apply a thin layer of well rotted manure or good garden compost all around the tree - we suggest using John Innes No. 3.
Water your pear tree regularly until the plant is established, as the root system will not be sufficient to support the tree before this point. Water around once a week, and more frequently in very hot weather.
After the first year or so, the tree will only require watering through spring and summer. Make sure you always water the roots, and avoid getting water on the leaves of the plant, as this encourages disease and leaf scorch,
When fruit trees are grown in containers, they will have more restricted access to water than those growing in the garden. so will need watering with greater regularity. As a rule of thumb stick your finger into the first inch of topsoil and if it feels medium dry, water immediately.
Most pear trees grown in gardens are left to grow in quite a natural bush shape, and are very easy to train. The best time to prune your pear tree is in winter, when the tree is dormant.
First, remove any branches that are growing towards the centre of the tree instead of pointing outwards, as these will not get enough sunlight to produce fruit.
Then remove any branches that are dead, diseased or dying.
Lastly, cut back all but the main branches and leave six or so buds on each stem. Once your tree has reached its full height, or a height you are happy with, you can also cut the main branches back by about a third, which will ensure your tree doesn't grow much taller.
Fruit and Flowers
Your pear tree should break out into beautiful blossom in spring, and after a couple of years fruit should appear in summer. At this point, it might be an idea to invest in a fruit cage or fruit netting to deter birds. The fruit should be ripe between August and October depending on the variety.
Your pear tree will go into dormancy over winter and lose all its leaves - this is normal! If your tree is potted, you can move it into an unheated greenhouse or conservatory (basically somewhere sheltered) when the temperatures begin to drop to protect it from extreme temperatures and frosts.
If your tree flowers before the last of the spring frosts, you may need to wrap it in horticultural fleece on frosty nights, to prevent the delicate flowers being damaged.