In the United States, three dominant pear tree varieties include European Pears, Asian Pears, and Oriental Hybrids. Determining which variety or hybrid grows best in your climate zone is essential to planting a pear tree that will provide luscious fruit for your backyard harvest.
Choose a pear tree variety or hybrid that will thrive in your local climate conditions. Cold hardiness depends on the maximum lowest winter temperature your area sustains. Patten, Jubilee, and Golden Spice varieties are amongst the hardiest, and are comfortable at temperatures below -50 degrees F. Ayers and Summercrisp survive temperatures to -50 degrees with some risk of injury due to cold. Tyson will thrive to -40 degrees, and trees that fare best in the moderately low winter temperatures of zones 5 and higher include Moonglow, Seckel, Maxine, and Starking Delicious.
Most pear tree varieties require a partner tree for pollination. However, not every tree pair will pollinate each other. According to the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension, Seckel and Moonglow will cross pollinate other species and each other when planted together. Consult the nursery you purchase your pear tree from for pollination partners. Pear trees should be planted 40 to 50 feet apart.
Select a tree from nursery stock that is less than two years old, with a trunk at least 1/2 inch in diameter and 2 to 4 feet tall. Older trees may not have enough transplantable root system. Look for overall health of leaves and branches. Bare root trees should be protected with a moist packing media.
Always call your local utility safety hotline before you dig to avoid hitting electrical lines or underground pipes. Pear trees like full sun and bright morning sunshine to prevent disease and for optimum fruit production. Soil should be well drained and sandy, or partly clay or loam. Choicest pH ranges are from 6.0 to 6.5, which can be determined through a soil test. Don't fertilize your tree during planting as this may cause a vulnerability to disease.
If the tree is in a container when purchased, loosen the pot gently and handle the tree by the root ball and not the trunk or branches. Dig a hole one foot deep and about 5 times the width of the root ball. The Arbor Day Foundation suggests that roots appearing to circle the ball be cut and encouraged to grow down instead. Place the tree and gently fill in the hole around the root ball, trying not to leave air pockets. Pack the top soil but don't tamp it too firmly, and use the soil to build a little water trough circling the tree. Water thoroughly after planting and then again once a week throughout the first year. Mulch up to three inches around the tree, ensuring that the mulch doesn't come into contact with the trunk.
For a bare root tree, soak the roots for up to six hours prior to planting. Dig up the soil up to 3 to 5 feet wider than the diameter of the roots, then dig down to a level where the roots will be able to stretch out below the soil line and the ball is completely covered. Grass in this area should also be removed. Place the tree in the hole and partly backfill until lower roots are covered. Then gradually add soil, working it gently around the roots, and avoid creating air pockets. Create a water trough and water well, then mulch about two inches on the top soil avoiding the trunk. Water weekly to encourage root establishment.