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How to grow your own pear tree from seed

Written by Nicola Wallis

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Posted on 14 March 2022

Growing a pear tree from seed is possible, isn’t difficult and can be very rewarding if you have the patience as it takes time and care for a fruit tree to bloom.

Some people advise against growing a pear tree as it can take up to ten years for a tree to produce fruit if at all!  Plus, whilst it is still feasible and very rewarding to grow a tree from a pear seed, they do not necessarily grow true to type. They may have different characteristics to their parent tree meaning their fruit may look and taste very different. Whatever the outcome from your pear tree grown from seed, if nothing else, you will always have pretty blossom that the pollinators will adore.

Which seeds should I use?

You can use shop bought seeds, take them from a shop bought pear, or from a friends pear tree harvested when the fruit is ripe or after it falls to the ground, which is usually between August and October depending upon the variety.

When choosing varieties, select pears for seed extraction from parent trees with desirable characteristics and native to your local climate. As a general rule, you should extract, prepare and sow several more pear seeds than the number of trees that you want because even with proper preparation and care it is very unlikely that all seeds will germinate.

When is the best time to grow a pear tree from seed?

Fruit seeds tend to germinate best in late winter or very early in spring. By preparing your pear seeds in February  means that they will have enough time to stratify which will help them to successfully germinate.

How long can it take a pear tree to grow from seed?

It can take anywhere from up to three to ten years to grow a pear tree from seed that bears fruit. It is worth bearing in mind that not all fruit trees bear the same fruit as their parent and some may never produce any fruit.

Do you need two trees to produce fruit?

The majority of pear trees are not self-pollinating, they require another which is compatible close-by or within about 25 metres of it, in order to harvest fruits.

How do you grow a pear tree from seed?

  • Collect your pear seeds from ripe pears and cut the fruit in quarters lengthwise across the core. Then using a paring knife, pick out the seeds. Ensure you have a good quantity of seeds as you will stand a better chance of producing more trees because not all will successfully germinate.
  • Soak your seeds in a bowl of tap water overnight. Any seeds that float to the top won't germinate so discard those keeping only seeds which sink to the bottom. The next morning soak your seeds in a solution of ten parts water to one-part bleach for ten minutes. Rinse your seeds thoroughly and let them dry on a paper towel. 
  • Fill a resealable plastic bag such as a  sandwich or freezer bag with moist peat moss which should be damp and not waterlogged. Push the seeds two or three inches deep into the peat moss and plant at least five seeds in each bag. Seal the bag and place it in the bottom or salad drawer of your refrigerator. Leave the seeds to germinate for three months but check the moss every couple of weeks to make sure it hasn’t dried out. If the moss is dry, spray with water to moisten.
  • When outside temperatures are above four degrees Celsius and after three months have lapsed  you can remove the seeds from the fridge.
  • You will need to soak them again to soften the seeds further. Soak in a bowl of warm water for two days and, again, discard any seeds that float to the top of your water as these will not grow.
  • Fill a small container or, for best results Rootrainers, with a quality potting mix and place each seed in its’ own cell approximately half an inch deep.
  • Water the seeds so that the soil is damp. Overwatering can stunt their growth or cause root rot. Leave the planted seeds in a warm and well-lit place, such as a windowsill with full sun, for two to three weeks. 
  • Watch your seeds over two to three weeks to ensure they sprout small cotyledons which are not true leaves. True leaves are larger than the cotyledons and more like the leaves on a pear tree. When your sprouts have four true leaves, you can replant them in your garden or into a much larger pot should you wish as this will allow you to move the pot inside and out as the weather requires. The tree can be then be planted out at a later date when slightly stronger.
  • Seedlings should be ready to be planted out into the ground between May and June early in the growing season as this will allow them enough time to establish strong root systems before winter sets in.

How to Plant a pear tree

Choose an area in your garden that has well-drained soil and at least six hours of sunlight and enough space for the roots to spread.

Dig a hole in the soil that is slightly larger than the root ball of your young tree approximately 3inches of extra space should be available to enable the roots to grow. Carefully remove your young pear tree from its growing container, replant it in the ground, then water straight away. Plant your next pear tree approximately seven metres away so that it is close enough for cross-pollination to take place.

How do you care for a pear tree?

  • To support the seedling as it grows tie the trunk to a stake. Use something soft and gentle for tender plants such as Softie, it is galvanised metal with a 
    soft outer layer that allows limbs to grow freely without damaging bark.
  • Install a guard such as StrimGuard around the base of the pear tree. This will prevent small mammals from chewing the bark and will protect it when strimming back grass. It is important to avoid damaging the base of the young tree as it can compromise the flow of water and nutrients to the upper part of the sapling and leave the plant vulnerable to infection and mould.
  • Each spring fertilize your pear tree once a year, the fertilizer required will depend upon how fertile your soil is.
  • During dry spells water your pear trees regularily.
  • Prune as necessary or yearly in early spring. This will help to direct nutrients to healthy branches and will also give the tree a nice wine glass shape. The exact method of pruning depend upon the variety and age of the tree but for general tips read our earlier blog... https://www.haxnicks.co.uk/blogs/grow-at-home/winter-pruning
  • It could take between 7 and 10 years for your pear tree to start bearing fruit that can be harvested when the pears change colour whilst still hard. They can then be taken inside to ripen off.

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