An Easy Guide to Growing Pear Trees
The range of pears you can buy from the supermarket can be very limited – but the range of pears you can grow from PlantNet® is broad! Pear trees are fantastic, easy to grow fruit trees that deliver beautiful pieces of fruit to home gardeners. Now, you can expand your backyard, courtyard, or balcony to grow green, yellow, or red fruiting dwarf pears that you can’t get in supermarkets!
To help you get the most from your pear trees, we have created this short, 5 point article on How to Grow Pear Trees.
7 Minute Read
Where to plant your pear tree
Plant your pear tree in full sun. Many pear varieties are hardy to frosts so are suitable for cold climates of Australia – particularly our new Summer Crunch® Pears.
Soil preparation is beneficial, and you should start at least 6 weeks prior to planting your new pear tree. Adding compost, well-rotted manure, or another organic soil conditioners will improve the soil in most soil types. Your soil or potting mix should be well-draining for best results. Pears are, however, less fussy about their soil conditions and can tolerate soils that are heavier or stay wetter in comparison to apples.
Follow the complete planting and potting instructions on our Ultimate Guide to Growing Fruit Trees.
How to fertilise pear trees
In the home garden, fertilisers pears as you would apples. Pears perform best with a balanced fertiliser blend with added potassium. Organic fertilisers can be used but at a much higher rate than inorganic fertilisers. The main fertilising period for pear trees is spring and autumn.
To give you a general guide, PlantNet® has created a great guide for fertilising deciduous fruit trees in pots from trial work completed by PlantNet® over a 3 year period. Take the time to read this article, as it includes information specific to apples, which you can use for pears!
Watering and pruning pear trees
In winter a small amount of water once a week is all that’s needed to prevent the soil profile from drying up. The crucial periods where pears require water are following flowering through to early summer to assist with next seasons buds to develop, then again prior to harvesting your pears. The best practice is to use your hand to measure the moisture level of your potting mix. When digging into the top 5cms of potting mix you should look for any sign of moisture – if you see moisture, don’t water; if the soil is completely dry, water well.
Using wetting agents, mulch, and drip lines are all good ways to decrease the amount of time you need to spend outside with a hose in summer and during periods where water consistency is important.
Pear trees need to be pruned at the time of planting, and the best time to plant a new pear tree is in winter as a bareroot tree. The first time you prune your pear tree you should consider the shape you want your tree to be. Check out our ultimate guide to growing fruit trees article for further information on pruning systems and how to get started. Pears grow well when shaped into an open vase or central leader in home gardens but lend themselves well to espalier and more complicated shaping!
Following formative pruning you should then move to pruning for fruit production. This includes removing branches that don’t conform to the shape of the tree, removing dead or diseased branches, thinning old fruiting spurs, and shortening last season’s growth by about 2/3s to encourage spurs to form and keep them close to the main structural branches.
Common pear tree pests and diseases
Pears are susceptible to the same pests and diseases as apples. They are a target for Codling Moth and Light Brown Apple Moth, and will also be attacked by woolly aphids, mites, and QLD Fruit Fly. Pears are favoured by Pear and Cherry Slug, small black slugs which will desiccate the leaves; treat these by throwing handfuls of wood ash over the tree to suffocate these pesky slugs.
As far as diseases are concerned, pear scab is the most prevalent, and treatment is the same as apple scab. All these pests and diseases are covered in our Common Fruit Tree Pests and Diseases article.
Netting is the best way to keep birds and insect pests away from your fruit. Net early in the season, ensuring you use a frame that keeps the net clear of the growing foliage.
Otherwise, a Bordeaux spray is essential before bud burst to address fungal problems. Natural/organic treatments can be used for most pests, otherwise pesticides can be used but always consult the product instructions.
Pear pollination and harvest guide
In order to obtain fruit, most pears require a pollination partner. See below pollination partners. Please note that these can vary depending on your climate. Green indicates compatible pollination partners, red indicates self-incompatibility, and yellow indicates self-fertile (Bonza, Sunshine) or partially self-fertile (Williams, 20th Century Nashi, Mirandino Rosso).
See below for the approximate harvest times for each PlantNet® variety. Please note that these times vary depending on climate and individual trees.
Glowinski, L. (1991) The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia. Melbourne, VIC: Lothian.
Persley, D. (1994) Diseases of fruit crops Vol 1. Brisbane, QLD: Department of Primary Industries.