Growing in Containers
Asian pear trees generally grow too large to successfully grow in a container for more than a few years.
Do not exclusively use soil from your garden in your pot; instead, use up to 1/3 native soil, 2/3 potting soil mix, and add a generous portion of fertilizer-free compost or well-rotted manure. For larger pots use a potting mix that has a larger particles in addition to smaller ones.
Care and Maintenance
Asian pears are unusually fruitful plants. They mature early (usually starting blooming and producing fruit 1-2 years after planting), and they set LOTS of fruits! In fact, unless you aggressively thin the fruits, you will have hundreds of small pears that are mostly skin and seed.
After the traditional self-thinning event known as "June drop" - which usually occurs in early June and consists of the tree spontaneously releasing up to 10% of its fruit - you should go in and thin out 40%-50% of the remaining fruits. This seems excessive, but the remaining fruits will swell and develop into the good-sized pears you want them to be. In clusters of 1-3 fruits, thin to the best single fruit; in clusters of 4+ fruits, thin to the best 2.
DO NOT SKIP THIS TASK. If allowed to expend all of its energy ripening the fruit it has set, the young tree will exhaust itself and "runt out" - stay small, thin, poorly rooted, and die early. Asian pears need to be thinned to moderate the vigor we have bred into them. Thorough thinning will make better fruit and promote a healthy, well-rooted, long-lived addition to your home orchard.
WATERING YOUR PLANTS
This is the most important and often the most difficult part of successfully growing plants. There are many factors, including the humidity, temperature, soil type, wind, and amount of direct sun that affect how much and how often water should be applied.
A general rule of thumb for plants in the ground is to ensure they receive an inch of water per week over the root zone. An inch of water is equivalent to about ¾ to one gallon per square foot of soil surface area. The typical three foot diameter planting hole would need 7 ½ to 10 gallons of water per week provided by rainfall or by the gardener.
Apply this water once a week, two times per week if soil is fast draining. This will of course depend on your own conditions and the plants you are growing! DO NOT water lightly each day because this results in a wet surface and dry root zone area. The soil should be moist, but not soggy, to a depth of about a foot for most growing plants. The top inch or two can feel dry, and the plant will still be well watered. The trick is to have the water available where the roots are. In hotter and sunnier areas, a mulch of wood chips, straw, bark, etc. can greatly ease the burden of summer watering. For plants in containers, water until the soil is saturated and water comes out of the drainage holes. Let the container dry until the soil is dry to the touch 1 to 2 inches down (more deep with deeper pots) and the container is lighter in weight. A plant that has wilted can be receiving either too much or too little water.
In rainy areas like the Pacific Northwest most of the plants that we offer will need relatively little supplemental irrigation ONCE THEY ARE WELL ESTABLISHED in the ground and have had a chance to develop a good root system. However, even here it is important to make sure plants have regular, deep watering during the first couple of growing seasons, and the first summer is especially critical. In drier areas, or where soils do not retain water well, permanent irrigation is essential. Remember that you don’t want your trees to just survive, but rather to thrive. Make sure they get the water where they need it, starting at the drip line and extending away from the tree up to several feet ( for older trees) where the feeder roots will be. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses can be an efficient way to deliver the water.
For good steady growth and high productivity, your trees need to have adequate amounts of various mineral nutrients. Some people are fortunate and have naturally rich, fertile soil.
Use an all-purpose or balanced fertilizer. A couple of inches of well-rotted compost on the root zone can also be an effective fertilizer. A generous leaf or straw mulch around your trees will not only conserve moisture and help in weed control, but also keeps your soil healthy by building up humus, attracting earthworms, and supporting beneficial fungal organisms. This encourages young trees to be strong, healthy and productive. Avoid applying fertilizer after early summer; doing so can encourage lots of soft new growth that is much more likely to be damaged by winter cold. Excessive use of fertilizer can increase disease problems on your plants and can even kill them.
As a general guide, if your tree is producing about one foot of new growth or more a year and has healthy-looking foliage, it may not need much, or any, fertilizer.
Pest and Diseases
Find out what insects and diseases are typical in your area. Ask your local co-operative extension professional what the typical insect and disease issues are in your area. Then you can make selections based on resistance or tolerance information available on our website, or make a plan for controlling problems you can expect with the susceptible varieties you prefer to grow. If you see resistance information about a particular disease for one variety but not another of the same kind of fruit, then that variety may be susceptible or might not have been tested - so its resistance could be unknown. The following are some of the more common issues.