Pears Garden Guide

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Pears Care At A Glance

  • Pear trees require two different cultivars for cross-pollination.
  • They require organically rich soil with good drainage.
  • Either standard or dwarf rootstocks are available.
  • Pear trees reach maturity to bear fruit in 4-6 years from planting.
  • They are all hardy to USDA zones 5-7, with some rated to zone 4.

Planting Instructions

Follow the same planting instructions, as you would for other bareroot trees.

  • Amend existing soil appropriately with organic material to help improve drainage.
  • NOTE: Proper drainage is critical for fruit-bearing trees to do well long-term. Do not use potting soil.

  • Soak roots for 8-24 hours prior to planting.
  • Tip prune the top of the main leader by 1/3 to 1/2, immediately after planting.
    • With clean pruners, cut at a slight angle, just above a visible bud.
    • If trees arrive with side branches, they should also be pruned back by 1/2 their length.
  • Properly water newly planted trees using the 1 inch per week rule for the entire first growing season.
    • 1 inch of water equates to about 2.5-3 gallons every other day.
  • Remove competitive grass & weeds to form a 3-4 ft. tree well and add 2-3 in. of compost or mulch.
  • Cage or wrap tree trunks to prevent predation from deer or rodents.
  • NOTE: DO NOT rely solely on rain events to provide enough moisture to newly planted trees.

Pear Rootstocks


  • Typically OHxF97 which stands for Old Home x Farmingdale clone is a hybrid developed by Oregon grower Lyle Brooks in the 1960s. It is most often used for Asian, European, and ornamental pears.
  • OHxF97 is vigorous, disease resistant, and trees are typically early bearing and productive.
  • Standard means full-sized trees.
  • Pears typically grow to 20 feet x 20 feet but can grow to 30 feet.
  • Typically reach maturity to bear fruit in 4-6 years.
  • Sturdy rooting trees do not require staking.


  • OHxF87 which is actually a Semi-dwarfing rootstock. (Old Home x Farmingdale)
  • This dwarfing yields trees approx. 1/2 the size of a standard or seedling pear tree.
  • Dwarf pear trees typically grow 12 to 15 feet high & wide.
  • Cold hardy, disease resistant, and very productive with strong roots.
  • Trees on OHxF87 are more precocious than trees on OHxF97 (standard) roots, typically reaching bearing age sooner in optimal conditions.


  • Most pears are not self-fruitful and require cross-pollination from another cultivar.
  • Planting two varieties ensures reliable crops of bigger and better-quality fruits. Although all pears are considered early season blooming, some are earlier blooming than others. Proper cross-pollination will come from trees that bloom at the same time.

Early Season

  • Bartlett (Partially self-fruitful) Good pollinator for most European pears. (Bosc or Comice included). Bartlett can also pollinate Asian pears.
  • Clapp's Favorite
  • Potomac
  • Ubileen

Early Mid-Season

Asian Pears

Asian pears bloom earlier than most European pears. Bartlett is an exception, with overlapping bloom periods. Asian pear trees are reliably hardy for USDA zones 5-7 with a requirement of only 400 to 500 chill hours to bear fruit.

Korean Giant (a.k.a Olympic)

  • Considered standard-sized tree, grafted to Pyrus betulifolia, which makes strong-rooted vigorous trees.
  • Trees typically mature to at least 10 to 15 feet high & wide.
  • Requires pollinator. Use 'Chojuro' or other Asian pear cultivars like 'Anjou', or 'Korean Giant'.
  • Trees typically mature to bearing age in 2 to 4 years.
  • Fruits usually ripen in October and have long storage life when refrigerated.
  • Shows moderate resistance to fire blight.


  • Considered a semi-dwarf, grafted to OHxF513 rootstock which matures to 10 to 12 feet high & wide.
  • Requires pollinator. Use 'Korean Giant', 'Anjou', or 'Bartlett'.
  • Bears fruit in about 2 to 4 years from planting, with fruit ripening in mid to late September
  • Shows resistance to fire blight.

Pruning Maintenance

Pruning must be done systematically every year to promote proper fruit-bearing wood and a healthy branching structure. Generally, pear pruning should be done more lightly than with apples, to avoid too much vigorous, succulent growth that becomes more susceptible to fungal diseases like fire blight. As with other fruit trees, root suckers or water shoots can be removed as needed, at any time.

Starting the 2nd season follow these basic pruning rules:

  • Hard annual pruning should be done while trees are dormant in late winter to early spring.
  • First, remove diseased, broken, or damaged branches or limbs.
  • Next, remove any crossing or rubbing branches, including those that are or will grow across the central leader.
  • Lastly, remove branches as needed to open the canopy to allow for air circulation and sunlight penetration.

Proper Pruning Cuts = thinning cuts, which remove a branch all the way back to where it emanates from.

Avoid Heading Cuts = those that only remove part or the end of a branch or limb, which leads to more foliage growth that then can inhibit flowering & fruiting.

Root Suckers & Water Shoots can be pruned off during summer or outside of winter dormancy, without worry.

NOTE: Proper pruning of fruit trees has the biggest effect on fruit production and tree functions.

TIP: Avoid watering while pear trees are in bloom, as this can increase susceptibility to fire blight infections. Providing supplemental water from fruit set to harvest, is beneficial, especially during periods of heat and drought.


Like all fruit trees, maintaining proper nutrition is important for trees and eventually fruit development. Fertilizing should be done in early spring, just prior to the tree leafing out. Apply a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or use an organic food with a complete 3-5-3 formula according to product label instructions.

NOTE: Although all plants require some nitrogen for proper growth, too much nitrogen can lead to improper growth and limit or halt flowering entirely.