Name: pear, European pear, Pyrus communis.
Height: approximately 4m x 4m, or dwarf forms 1.5m x 1.5m.
Plant type: deciduous tree.
Climate: grows best in cool temperate areas. Look for low-chill varieties in warmer zones.
Soil: well-drained, enriched with compost or well-aged animal manures.
Position: full sun, with protection from strong winds.
Flowering and fruiting: small, fragrant, white or blush pink blossoms smother the tree from spring. Fruits ripen slowly and develop into teardrop-like fruit with golden yellow, green or red fruit from late summer.
Feeding: feed in spring with a complete fertiliser balanced for fruiting trees.
Watering: water regularly.
A medium sized tree with a rounded crown. The leaves are green, glossy and leathery with very lightly serrated margins. Leaves turn vibrant shades of red and yellow in autumn and fall in autumn to reveal a handsome silhouette. Dense clusters of small white or pink fragrant blooms appear in spring and are soon followed by luscious teardrop-like fruit.
Pear trees respond well to training and are often espaliered against fences or walls. It’s highly decorative and a great way to maximise space in a small area.
Most pears are not self-fertile, so require a second tree to help with pollination and fruit set. If space is an issue, seek out self-pollinating varieties, like Fleming’s Nurseries Trixzie ‘Pyvert’ or ‘Pear Conference’. While self-pollinating, they too will perform better when paired with a partner.
Pears can be grown as shade trees or espaliered in small gardens as a decorative feature. The fruit is best eaten fresh, either green and crunchy or juicy and soft, but is also delicious when cooked in desserts.
Pears are best planted in winter when they’re available as either bare-rooted or potted trees, depending on your State. While you can plant potted specimens throughout the year, they can suffer from transplant shock and take longer to establish. When you get the tree home, remove the plastic and soak the roots in a bucket of diluted seaweed solution while you prepare the planting site.
Choose a spot with full sun and well-drained soil. Dig in plenty of organic matter, including compost or well-rotted manure. Dig a hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the existing root ball. Create a small mound of soil in the centre of the planting hole. Remove the tree from the bucket and spread its roots evenly over the mound. Backfill with soil, making sure the tree is sitting at the same level it was in the bag. Firm down the soil and water in well.
Use mulch to create a ring around the tree and this will help direct water to the tree root zone. It will also help suppress weeds and keep the soil moist too.
Prune back one-third of all the branches. It seems counterintuitive, but this will help stimulate new growth and encourage a much stronger tree come spring.
Pears start fruiting after 3–5 years and continue to provide an abundance of luscious fruit for years to come. The fruit is best picked just before they ripen and kept in a cool, dark spot to ripen. This may be days to a couple of weeks, depending on your preference for firmness and sweetness.
Feed with an organic-based fertiliser suitable for fruiting trees in spring. Pears are not heavy feeders and over-fertilising can impact fruit production.
Water regularly to keep the soil moist but reduce watering in autumn and winter. Additional watering may be required during hot, dry weather.
Prune young trees in winter, cutting back branches to develop a central leader, i.e., where side branches extend from one main stem. Winter is also the best time to shape and espalier trees.
Pears don’t necessarily need to be pruned back after each fruiting season, especially if it has been well shaped from the start. But you can prune back to reduce the size and remove dead or diseased wood and any criss-crossing branches. This will help keep the tree healthy and productive.
There are a few pests that affect pear trees:
Pears can be grown from seed, but do this as a fun project rather than a way to grow a productive, fruiting tree. It may never fruit, or the quality will be poor. For best results, buy a recognised cultivar.
After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse fruit well before cooking and eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
Loquat: an attractive, spreading tree with highly aromatic fruit.
Plum: tart or sweet, there’s a plum to suit every taste.
Lemon: a beautiful evergreen tree with luscious, tangy fruit.
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