Pear trees are vulnerable to insect damage and a variety of diseases, which makes them less attractive to homeowners than apple or other fruit trees. However, pear trees are simple to grow with minimal care and attention. The trees can produce large quantities of fruit every year when well-maintained. Pears are sweet tasting, nutritious fruits that can be stored for long periods in your refrigerator. Growing pear trees from seed is an easy way to ensure a nearly year-round supply of this tasty fruit.
Start your pears by placing the seeds about 3mm deep into a container full of moist soil. The ideal time to start your seeds is about six weeks before the last winter frost. Place the container inside a sealable plastic bag and store it inside a refrigerator. After the final frost, remove the container and place it on a sunny windowsill. The pear seedling is ready for transplantation to your yard as soon as the weather remains warm enough to prevent ground frost.
Plant the pear seedling in a sunny location in your yard. You must dig a deep hole to accommodate the root system, and the hole should be twice as wide as the root spread. Mix compost into the garden soil, and gently spread the pear tree's roots and place it into the hole. For optimum growth, you should plant your tree at least 20 feet away from any other trees. Consider this distance when selecting your location, unless you intend to relocate the tree later.
Use a trellis to support the pear tree until the branches are stronger. A trellis also is useful to train your tree into a V shape, which allows for optimum sunlight penetration and prevents fruit from rubbing against other fruit.
Water your tree during times of scarce rainfall. Pear trees do not require frequent water, and about 1 inch of water per week usually is sufficient. Pears planted in sandy soils may require watering twice each week.
Fertilize lightly during the spring starting in the pear's second year. For best results, fertilize before the tree begins to bloom. Rapidly growing trees may not require fertilizer, but you should feed unhealthy trees or trees that are not growing as quickly as expected with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. About 1.5 pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet of soil is adequate for most trees and soil types.
Prune your tree in mid- to late-winter by removing damaged or diseased branches, vertical suckers and water sprouts. You should remove branches touching the ground or growing into the center of the tree. Top off the main trunk of your tree to control its upward growth and ensure access to fruit on higher branches.
Harvest pears in early fall before they are fully ripe. Pears will continue to ripen when removed from the tree. Leaving ripe pears on your tree will attract birds and insects.
Watch for signs of disease. Pears are very susceptible to a bacterial infection called fire blight. Bees spread fire blight during the spring, and the disease causes a burnt look to the leaves and stems, and may cause cankers to form on the branches. If you notice signs of fire blight, cut away the affected areas and at least 6 inches of additional branch. Sterilize your pruning sheers and other tools to prevent passing the infection to other trees. Damage caused by black rot, scab and insects are other potential problems when growing pear trees.