The unusual fruit of the Asian pear (Pyrus serotina) is sweet, juicy and a bit crunchy, unlike other pears such as the Bosc and Bartlett. Also called the “pear apple,” it grows in almost all U.S. climate zones, from zone 5 through 9 (Chicago to Miami). Purchase two different cultivars of this pear tree, because it is not a self-pollinating tree and needs another tree in order for it to form fruit. But armed with a little knowledge and a balanced fertilizer, you will soon be enjoying delicious, nutritious fruit from your own trees.
Plan to grow two trees that are different cultivars of Asian pear because these trees do not easily self-pollinate. (See Tips.)
Plant your trees 15 feet apart in a sunny area that has loamy soil. If you need to add compost to achieve a loamy texture, add a couple of shovels full when you dig your planting hole. Spread a thick layer of organic mulch around the trees after you plant, making sure not to allow it to touch the trunk. Water your trees deeply after you plant them and keep the soil moist if rain is sparse.
Train your Asian pear to a shape similar to a European pear or apple tree, that is, a modified central leader. This will shape your tree somewhat like a Christmas tree. Also encourage good limb angles during this tree’s first year in the ground by bending down small limbs with clothespins or small spreaders. (See Reference 1.)
Fertilize your Asian pear trees three times each year, using 1/3 pound of a standard fruit tree fertilizer at each application. The best times to apply fertilizer are in the early spring, early summer and late summer. There’s no need to fertilize your trees when you first plant them: wait one month and then give your tree ½ pound of a balanced 10-10-10 plant food.
Thin the fruit twice: when the tree is in bloom, remove about half the flowers that you can reach; when young fruit is the size of a cherry, pick off more, allowing 6 inches of space between fruits. If you do not thin the fruit they will crowd each other, resulting in smaller fruit.
Things You Will Need
- Two trees, different cultivars
- Sunny location
- 10-10-10 fertilizer for fruit trees
- Research the different cultivars’ ability to cross-pollinate with each other because not all cultivars will cross-pollinate with all other cultivars. If you choose two early bloomers, they will be most successful at pollinating each other.
- For warm climates, the Shinseiki cultivar is recommended because it is partially self-fertile.
- Hand pick the fruit very carefully because it easily bruises. You might be able to start harvesting your Asian pears in July, but to make sure they’re ripe and as sweet as possible, pick one first and taste it.
- Protect blossoms from spring frost by draping a floating row cover or a sheet over your tree. Also hang an incandescent light bulb under the fabric to provide heat.
- Always prune suckers from the tree’s base and any other stems that grow upright at the base of a branch.
- A disease called Pseudomonas can affect Asian pear trees in the Northwest states. To help prevent this disease, prune your trees only during the drier months of the year, May through September.
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