Pears (Pyrus communis) produce delicious, juicy fruits in autumn and look attractive in the garden, with a glorious display of blossom in spring. And they’re mostly pest- and disease-free, too.
You can squeeze a pear into the smallest of gardens – if you don’t have room for a full-size tree, you can grow pears as an espalier or cordon. Discover three ways to train a fruit tree.
More advice on growing fruits:
Find out more about pears in our Fact File.
Did you know…
Espalier pear in blossom
To be a sure of a good crop, plant two different varieties that bloom at the same time, so they pollinate each other. If you’ve only room for one tree, choose ‘Conference’, which is partly self-fertile. Get advice from a good nursery or garden centre before choosing your varieties.
Pears are a good source of fibre and potassium.
Pick while still firm and allow to ripen in storage. Check the fruit is ready by holding it in your hand without gripping, then lift and twist: it should come off cleanly, complete with the stalk.
Pears keep best at cold temperatures – a fridge is ideal, or a cool, frost-free shed – on racks, so air can circulate. Allow them to warm up to room temperature before eating. Got a glut? Find out how to make pickles.
How to grow pears
‘Doyenné du Comice’ pears grown as espaliers
Sun, shelter and soil with plenty of organic matter are key. Thin out young fruits, leaving one or two per cluster, after midsummer. Prune in winter – open up the centre to let light and air in. Prune espaliers and cordons in summer. Look out for blossom wilt (cut out unhealthy shoots and fruits), pear midge (remove any blackened fruitlets), scab and wasps.