How to grow pear trees in containers
Growing pear trees in containers is governed by the nearly same rules as growing pear trees in the ground. There are certain things to consider, so that we increase the chances of our tree survival. The things to consider are the following:
1.) If we choose to grow a pear tree from seed, we will probably have to wait 7-10 years before harvesting our first fruit. If we want to harvest pears in 1-3 years, we may have to follow the method used by most commercial fruit growers, which is to buy grafted seedlings of 1-2 years old. We have to choose carefully the rootstock and the scion according to our region’s climate. Every pear tree variety has a minimum amount of cold needed in order to produce fruits (see Pear Tree Climate Requirements). Ask your local garden store.
2.) We have to choose a dwarf variety (the rootstock determines the final tree’s height). We have to be specific and clear to the merchant that we want a pear tree to grow in a container for the whole of its lifetime. There are many cases in which merchants sell standard height trees as dwarf or semi dwarf.
3.) Most pear varieties are self-infertile. If we plan to grow just one tree and our purpose is to harvest fruits, we can choose a self-fertile variety. Alternatively, we can grow at a close distance two different trees of compatible varieties, with nearly the same period of flowering. Ask your local garden store.
4.) We choose a container at list twice as big as the tree’s root system. A 10-15 gallon (50 lt.) container is a good start. We have to put the bare root tree inside and fill the remaining container with soil mix and dirt. Keep in mind that the point where the scion is attached must be at least 3 inches (7,5 cm) above the ground level. All the containers are naturally built with small holes at the bottom, so that good drainage is ensured (we can also place broken clay pot pieces at the bottom of the pot for the same reason). We have to place the pot at a proper place of our yard, so that it will have full access to direct sunlight. Pear trees –just like nearly all fruit trees – need plenty of sunlight in order to produce fruits. We can move the pots in a protected (but not too hot) environment when freezing outside.
5.) We can water and prune our tree as soon as we plant it. Pruning is very important for the good aeration and health of the tree. Irrigation is the trickiest part when growing pear and apple trees in containers. Many pear trees grown in pots have not survived due root rot from excessive water. Be very careful not to over-irrigate your tree.
6.) We can add 1-4 lbs. (0,5-2 kg) 12-12-17+2MgO per young tree and 6,5 to 11 lbs. (3-5 kg) 12-12-12+2MgO per mature tree (older than 5-6 years old) on annual basis. Fertilizers can be applied from spring to summer (March to July) and the above mentioned quantities can be split into 3-4 applications. It’s better to avoid fertilizing trees that are younger than 2 years old. We always irrigate immediately after applying soil fertilizer or use water soluble fertilizers. Read more on Pear Tree fertilization.
7.) Thinning is important when growing pear trees for fruits. During spring to summer (April to July), we have to remove underdeveloped or unhealthy fruits and fruits that have been invaded by pests. We do this in order to leave valuable nutrients for the rest healthy fruits we want to harvest a couple of months later. We harvest pears in most cases from late summer to early autumn (August to October).
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