Juicy and succulently sweet Pears are a summer and autumn treat! The mellow sweetness and creamy textures are something we all look forward to each year! It’s easy as pie to grow your own Pear tree!
Wild Pear trees (Pyrus) were originally grown and bred in both Europe and Asia. Ancient farmers looked for specimens that had larger, sweeter fruit and bred these parent plants over time. Romans were likely working with about 50 Pear species of improved Pears. In 1860, American author T.W. Fields noted there were about 850 known Pears!
Modern Pear trees are hardy, disease-resistant and produce mouth-watering fruit. Some tolerating cold climates down to USDA zone 4 all the way up to sweltering hardiness zone 11! They bloom in a flourish of fragrant white blossoms and fill out in dark green glossy leaves.
From the tiny Chojuro Pear to the massive 40 foot tall Oriental Asian Pear, here are some pointers and information to get you started harvesting your very own homegrown goodness regardless of how much space you can spare!
Pears are some of the easiest fruit trees to grow and there are two main varieties, namely the European and the Asian. Both types require a different harvesting technique, there are also differences in storage, cooking and usage.
Asian Pears are round like Apples and are large, crisp, crunchy and loaded with juice. The Asian Pear is also known as the Apple Pear because of the firm crisp fruit. Shaped and sized a bit more like an apple, an Asian Pear snaps and crunches when you bite into it.
European Pears have that characteristic narrow neck. European Pears are softer fruit with a nuanced flavor. Epicurean European Pears offers delectable taste experiences, too. Seckel Pear produces very sweet, small Pears that are used in canning. Comice and D’Anjou Pears are both a staple in high-end food gift packages. They all offer a desirable flavor for fresh eating, baking, canning and preserving.
A happy Pear tree can live up to 100 years. They just need a location in full sun, in well-drained soil and provide them with moderate, consistent moisture.
Pear trees are fast-growing and usually begin to bear fruit within three to five years after planting. Choose the largest container size we have in stock; these are older trees and give you a jump start on the harvest. Like Apples, Pears are usually sold as grafted trees and require similar pruning and training.
While you’ll find a variety of self-pollinating Pear trees, a pollination partner that blooms at the same time gives you the largest harvests. Choose two European Pears or two Asian Pears. Asian Pears bloom earlier in spring than European.
All Asian Pear cultivars should be considered self-incompatible, which means you need to plant another Asian Pear cultivar as a companion for pollination purposes to produce more fruit.
Some European varieties, like Bartlett Pears, are in the partially self-pollinating trees category. While fully self-fertile in some parts of California, it’s best to plant another compatible Bartlett hybrid nearby to help with pollination, and both trees will produce significantly more fruit.
European Pears and Asian Pears usually won't cross-pollinate with each other. That is unless you happen to have a late-blooming Asian cultivar and early-blooming European Pear trees.
When to Prune a Pear tree? Depending on the type of pruning you are doing.
If you are going for size control and removing water growth, then you want to prune in the summer after your blooms are done. Many varieties, including Asian Pears, can be very large. So it’s important to thin your fruit tree during the growing season to keep one piece of fruit per fruiting spur.
For removing suckers and dead, diseased or crossing limbs, and to open the canopy for air circulation and sunlight to reach the interior, prune in the late winter or early spring, when everything is completely dormant. While leafless, it’s also easier to see the branching structure.
With the dizzying array of Pear tree varieties available today, it may be hard to choose just one! Pears are not the earliest ripening type of fruit trees and most are ripe between July and October. Here are a few varieties for each part of the growing season for you to choose from or to extend your harvest season so you can enjoy Pears all summer and into fall or even well into the winter months!
Known as Summer Pears, the first fruits in the earliest part of the growing season are typically ready in July and August depending on your climate and growing zone.
Straddling the summer and fall months, mid-season Pears are great early fall treats just as the leaves on other deciduous trees begin to show their color.
Ending the season and even ripening through cold and occasional frosts, late-season Pears are also known as Winter Pears.
Again your weather and climate will alter these dates, so staying in contact with your County Extension Office, learning about your region and talking with other gardeners will help immensely!
Stunning on and off the tree, Sensation Pears are a type of Bartlett that truly lives up to its name in every category! It’s kind of like the Jack-of-all-trades as its exceptional flavor lends itself well to eating fresh, canning, baking, and drying. Pair with Orient or Bartlett to maximize your harvest.
Comice was a recipient of the Award of Garden Merit, given by the Royal Horticultural Society. Prized among gardeners for its top-notch taste fresh off the tree, this variety is sometimes called the Christmas Pear and can be found wrapped individually at stores being sold for top dollar. Skip the grocery store and grow this Award-winning antique variety yourself!
If you’re looking for a Pear with a big of a crunch, we can’t recommend Bosc enough. It’s known for the crisp, dense, spiced white flesh that’s great fresh and even better when baked, dried, or canned as preserves. Bosc is one of the best options for baking, drying, and canning.
Warren is a medium to large long-necked Pear with a smooth, almost buttery texture that makes it great for desserts! The tree grows in a natural pyramidal shape and has an above-average resistance to Fire Blight. A pollinating partner isn’t strictly necessary, you’ll get a much larger harvest with a second Pear tree planted close by.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone, but the most popular Pear is of course the Bartlett! In fact, it’s one of the most popular Pears in the world! So popular that there are a number of spin-offs like Southern Bartlett and Red Bartlett. Its origins date back to the 1400s which makes it an heirloom antique variety that’s withstood the test of time!
The tree itself is tolerant to urban conditions, a vigorous grower, and long-lived. The Pears have crisp white flesh that’s perfect for eating fresh, cooking, and baking, and they keep very well in storage.
Most Pears rarely ripen on the tree and ripen slowly after harvest, a few varieties ripen on the tree, like some Summer Pears and Asian Pears.
Pears give slightly when gentle pressure is applied to the neck closest to the stem. Check to see if it looks the right color, smells ripe, and easily comes off with a gentle twist - you will know it's ready for picking! Once it's close to the harvest time, you can pick a few a bit early and let them ripen on the counter or in a brown paper bag as tests.
Watch for color changes on the skin and rosy or russet blush on the side facing the sun. However, not all Pears change color, so know your variety. This is usually a good indicator that they’re almost ready! Unless they are tree-ripened varieties of Pears, harvesting too late will result in mealy/grainy flesh.
Pick European Pears when they are still a bit firm. European Pears should be picked when the fruit matures, but before they are ripe.
Ripening Pears on the counter, or in a brown paper bag speed up the process, and many varieties are good for long storage. Tossing in an apple will speed the ripening process thanks to the ethylene gas they emit.
Great-tasting Pears are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Pears do not contain cholesterol or fat, and they are low in calories. Pears are an excellent source of potassium and calcium!
They are excellent for eating out of hand and in salads. Slice a few crisp Pears onto a grilled cheese or serve up onto a charcuterie with a selection of cheeses. They’re so versatile and pair well with both chocolate and vanilla, caramel, and maple syrup. Spices like cinnamon, anise, mint and ginger, while also savory herbs like thyme and rosemary too! They seem to go hand in hand with nuts, pork and game, and both red and white wine.
So after eating yourself silly on fresh Pears, you can try your hand at grilling them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a delicious sweet and sour side dish. Bake into pies, tarts and desserts, or blended into smoothies, churned into ice cream, or made into a sauce, like applesauce. Make shortbreads or blend them into pancakes.
Still have more and already loaded up your friends and neighbors? Pears can be pureéd and prepped for kid-friendly homemade fruit leather! Pear jelly and jam, spiced Pears, canned pear cubes or slices in syrup, and many other kinds of preserves await you as well! Freeze or dry slices for tasty snacks during the off-season.
Pears also make excellent homemade baby food. How nice to know exactly how your fruit was grown and what sprays were used!
Boost food sustainability and access to fresh pesticide-free produce right in your own backyard! Hurry and order your own perfect Pear tree for your own edible landscaping and enjoy a sweet, juicy harvest of these fan-favorite fruits! Available in containers and bareroot shipping from NatureHills.com!