The general consensus from homesteaders and gardeners alike is that a pear tree is a must have for any landscape. Aside from the fruit, pear trees produce beautiful white blossoms. While they have a tendency to grow vertical, they’re fairly easy to maintain as long as you keep up with them and can be kept in a relatively small space.
Some things to know about pears. There are two main varieties, hard and soft. Hard are good for cooking and preserves or even making wine if you’re so inclined. Carnes, Keiffer, Orient and Pineapple are all examples of hard pears.
Soft pears have a smooth texture and are great for eating right from the tree. Baldwin, Hood, Flordahome and Leconte are varieties that will do well in Florida.
Over the winter I selected what I thought would be the best location and chose the 3 varieties listed below. To be honest I picked them because they were what the nursery had at the time, so it was mainly the luck of the draw. All were purchased from the Ace nursery on San Jose Blvd. My oldest daughter likes hard crunchy pears and I enjoy both the hard and soft variety, so we have something for everyone.
Descriptions from Just Fruits and Exotics
Keiffer Hard Pear – Old Timer!
Hard cooking pear with great disease resistance. Keiffer Pear is one of the oldest and most disease resistant varieties of pears in the south. Great for pear preserves and pear honey. Fruit ripens July-August. Pollinate with COURTHOUSE, GOLDEN BOY, LE CONTE, ORIENT, SOUTHERN BARTLETT or TENNS. Zones 8-9B.
Le Conte Soft Pear- Super Soft and Flavorful!
Le Conte is thought to be a Chinese sand pear European pear hybrid. The fruit are a beautiful bell shape and pink-blushed golden color, Le Conte pear has a soft melting texture. It will ripen on the trees or can be picked when the ground color lightens slightly for long term storage. Le Conte is an extremely productive tree with good resistance to fire blight. This pear is referred to in a book printed in 1886 (Florida Fruits and How to Raise Them, by Helen Warner) as being a fine-flavored, juicy aromatic fruit. Incidentally, it was bringing in $5-6 per bushel in Liberty County, Georgia at that time! Ripens mid to late August. Pollinate with COURTHOUSE, GOLDEN BOY, KEIFFER, ORIENT, SOUTHERN BARTLETT or TENNS. Zones 8-9.
Pineapple Hard Pear- Old Fashion Hard Pears!
This is the old-fashioned pear your Grandmother raised. Tough, hardy and hard to kill. Pineapple pear trees produce bushels of hard cooking pears. Fruit ripens early August. Pollinate with BALDWIN, CARNES, FLORDAHOME, HOOD or SUG. Zones 8-9.
In my experience it’s best to plant trees in the winter when they’ve gone dormant. The tree will work to build the root system and not put energy toward leaves, so by the time spring comes they should be pretty well established. The three pear trees went in the ground a couple of weeks apart. All in holes 3 times the size of the root ball. After the first 5 or 6 inches, my soil is kind of a hard packed sandy mix, so I amended the holes with a good amount of gardening soil, leaving the root ball level with the ground. Once they were in I watered them thoroughly and also used the Fertilome liquid root stimulator.
Pear trees even if self-fertile will do much better with a partner. I’m relying on my Keiffer and Leconte to cross pollinate, and I should have enough variety that they’ll also help the pineapple pear as well.
I don’t recall exactly when they were planted, and honestly I can’t remember which is where (That will be easy enough to determine once they set fruit). However, shortly after they went in the ground, all of the leaves fell off. It was discouraging to say the least. On top of killing three trees, I thought about all of the wasted time and money. As luck would have it, I was a little to hasty in my assessment.
A month or so later I started seeing buds on the trees..then voila..Someone once said that patience is a virtue, if you’re looking for instant gratification, then home gardening and growing trees isn’t the thing for you. I’ll admit it’s taken me some time to get used to the growing cycle, but once you’ve seen it in action, it’s worth the wait.
Watering and Fertilizing
The first year is critical, make sure to water twice a week on light soils or once a week on clay and hard pack. Once established, pears need about an inch of water a week
Fertilize 3 times a year, late February, late May and late July or early August. with a 10-10-10, 1 cup per each year of the trees life up to 9 cups. I know that’s a lot of fertilizer.