We don’t know if it’s an easy master, blind luck or it simply runs to the rhythm of our veggie patch, but we’ve always had good success with pear trees. Its suitability to our climate here in Melbourne helps immensely, but there’s been many occasions when suitability doesn’t work out. Dream jobs, housemates, dating websites would be some examples.

Pear trees have similar growing requirements to apples – in terms of pollination and chill hours – but they seem to hold a better structure and better fruit for that matter; we don’t have to thin out an abundance of fruit. In that way, all fruit that sets will eventually develop into tasty treats.

If you’re struggling to find space for matching pollination partners, a dwarf (self-fertile) tree is compact enough to accommodate the smallest of spaces. Alternatively you can plant a full growing (self-fertile) variety in a wine-barrelled size pot, which will help to compact the root zone and growth of the foliage; effectively dwarfing it.


Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball, but a little shallower, thereby allowing you to mound the soil to create a well for drainage purposes (when planting in ground). Thoroughly water in the hole before planting the tree and ensure it is staked – using two stakes approximately 30cm either side of the trunk (avoiding the root zone) – to hold it perfectly upright. Mulch with 2-3cm of pea straw or lucerne hay and then water in with seaweed extract.


In ground: Water daily for the first 2 months while establishing and then cut back to 3-4 times a week in the warm season, otherwise 1-2 times a week during the cool season in the absence of rainfall. Once trees are established – roughly 5 years old – they will get by on 1-2 waters a week during the warm season, otherwise with rainfall in the cool season (for which they are dormant anyway).

In Pots: Water daily while establishing and through the entirety of the warm season, otherwise 3-4 times a week during the cool season in the absence of rainfall.


Before fruiting – in early spring – feed your tree with a heavy nitrogen based fertiliser, such as chook poo.

Pruning is the key to productivity. If you are espaliering, define 3-4 horizontal limbs and then use soft twine to attach to a trellis or fence. Keep other growth in check (particularly any ‘sucker’ growth coming from the root zone), so that the plant can focus its growing efforts on those branches. For standalone trees define 3-4 main limbs that allow for good airflow and easy harvesting access. The best practice is to keep limbs growing at a 45-60 degree angle, that allows them to hold heavy clusters of fruit.

In terms of seasonal pruning, trees should be pruned in late winter, but some smaller pruning is ok into the spring and summer if you must. Avoid pruning during autumn as this will stimulate new growth at the same time the tree should be getting ready for its winter dormancy.

If your trees are especially prolific, some culling of the fruit may be necessary to ensure that those remaining are of good edible quality.


Time until first harvest: adolescent plants will give some fruit early, but it’s best to remove these and allow the plant to focus on growing up for the first 2–3 years. Meaningful fruit will develop from 3 years onwards.

How to harvest: hand pick individual fruit by twisting the pear with one hand while you brace the tree with the other, or prune off with sharp/sterile secateurs.


To save space when planting pollinating partners, plant both trees in the same hole; this technique is called dual planting. This proximity improves pollination and helps to dwarf both of the trees, saving space.


Cool/Mountainous: Apr-Dec
Temperate: Apr-Nov
Subtropical: May-Nov
Tropical: Not suitable


Adolescent tree or graft


Full sun preferred


Dig hole roughly the same size as the root ball of the tree you are planting


3-4 m (unless dual planting; see below in tip)


5.5 - 6.5


Prepare the soil so that it is free-draining and well integrated with compost and well-rotted chook manure


Pots, in-ground


50cm x 50cm


Some self-pollinate, but partners are often required to improve production


300–1000 hours, depending on variety

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