An added beauty to a Pear tree is that not only can you eat the fruit, but in spring its flowers can be quite spectacular, add to this striking autumn foliage you have a good all round plant for any garden.

In recent years there has been a great deal of work done on the root stock of many varieties to promote dwarfing thus making them suitable subjects for the smaller garden and even containers.

Pear Tree Blossom

Pears prefer warm sites, sheltered from cold winds in moisture retentive, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5.

Unlike most other fruits, pears do not ripen well on the tree.

Pears should be harvested when mature and allowed to finish ripening under controlled conditions.

Good quality pears are smooth skinned, and free of surface markings.

A ripe pear is relatively firm but gives a little when pressed gently.


Week 4:

During the winter, firm any newly planted trees that have been lifted by frost.

Week 5:

Apply 40gms (1½oz) Sulphate of Ammonia and 20gms (½oz) Sulphate of Potash per sq metre, add 50% more if grown in grassed areas.

Pears do not need feeding during their first year.

Week 10:

Apply a fungicide at bud burst stage to control scab disease.

Choose a day when there is no wind and spray drift will not present any problems.

Week 13:

Watch for drying out after bud burst and water the soil if necessary.

After the soil has warmed up but before it dries out, apply a 50-75mm (2”-3”) deep mulch of well-rotted manure or compost 600mm (2ft) around the base of the tree,

Do not allow the mulch to come in contact with the tree trunk.

Week 20:

Drought can also retard the growth of mature trees, although they may not show immediate signs of being affected.

During prolonged dry weather, water the ground around trees at a rate of 4 gal / sq.m.

Week 22:

Digging around the trees is likely to damage the roots, therefore control weeds by mulching and shallow hoeing.

Week 26:

Thin fruit if necessary.

Fruit thinning is generally less than you would do with apples.

Aim for one fruit per spur, or two per spur on trees that are not bearing heavily.

On trees which have some branches heavily laden with fruit and others bare, thin the cropping branches lightly.

Developing Fruit

Week 30:

Pears grown as espalier or dwarf pyramids, require pruning to maintain balanced growth.

Cut back the laterals (side-shoots) on dwarf pyramids to the fifth or sixth leaf above the basal cluster, and reduce shoots growing from espalier branch framework to three.

Shoots that arise from an existing side-shoot or spur should be pruned back to the first leaf.

It is important that the tips of leading shoots required for extending growth are left intact at this time.


Provide support/s for heavily laden branches to prevent damage to the tree.

Week 35:

Commence picking fruit if ready.

The fruits of all but early varieties should be left to mature for as long as possible on the tree.

Test for ripeness by holding the fruit in the palm of the hand and gently lifting and twisting it.

Ripe fruit will part quite easily from the tree complete with stalk.

Ripe Fruit
Harvested Fruit

Where trees are too large for picking by hand, use a long-armed picking tool.

These can be obtained from specialist tool suppliers, or make one from a plastic bottle.

Lay fruit in a single layer on trays or shelves.

Store only undamaged fruit, preferably with there stalks intact.

Store pears in a cool room or shed, dealy at a temperature of around 2º-4°C (36º-39°F).

The atmosphere need not be moist, as it is for apples.

Stored Fruit

Week 37:

Prune cordons as the growth slows down.

Current season's shoots longer than 225mm (9”) should be pruned back to one leaf from the basal cluster if they originate from an existing spur or three leaves from the basal cluster if they originate from the main stem.

Pruning too early in summer results in unwanted secondary growth.

Established full or half-standard pear trees that have shown a reluctance to flower can sometimes be encouraged to crop by lightly pruning laterals now.

Cut back to a convenient bud about 150mm (6”) from the base of the shoot.

Week 39:

Continue picking fruit as it ripens and place the best keeping varieties in store.

Check them over regularly, removing any that may have started to decay.

Week 40:

Where space is limited and in cooler areas, growing the trees as cordons and / or espaliers might be the best option.

These can even be grown on freestanding posts and wires or against a fence / wall.

*Construct supporting framework by fixing two horizontal wires one at 900 (3ft) and the other at 1800mm(6ft) above ground level.

Tension these wires with adjustable straining bolts fixed to 3.0m x 100x 100 posts (idealy set in concrete) spaced at 3.0 metres (10ft) apart.

*The supporting structure should be positioned where the trees will receive maximum warmth from the sun and are easily protected from late spring frosts.

Tie the branches into the wires as they grow.

Week 45:

Plant out any time from now until March in well-drained deep soil that does not dry out in summer.

When planting oblique cordons, set the first tree 2 metres (6ft) in from the end of the row to allow for its ultimate length, and plant at 45 degrees, with the graft union uppermost.

This will prevent the union being forced open if the tree is bent lower when it reaches the top of the framework.

Improve thin soils by adding bulky organic matter, e.g. farmyard manure.

Do not plant when the soil is frozen or saturated.

If planting cannot be done on receipt of delivery store them in a frost-tree shed until suitable planting conditions prevail.

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