How To Grow And Care For Asian Pear Trees

You will be surprised by the juicy, sweet flavor of this crisp fruit.

Close-up of Asian Pear Tree (pyrus pyrifolia)

Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

You may have never heard of Asian pears, but once you've tasted one, you'll want your own tree so you can have all the fruit you can eat. Asian pears (Pyrus pyrifolia) are also known as "apple pears" because they're round and firm like apples. The crunchy fruit is wonderful when eaten fresh. Chilling it before eating enhances the delicious flavor. You can also enjoy the texture in salads and stir-fries.

Asian pear trees require the same growing conditions as their relatives the European pears (P. communis), but there are more Asian varieties that you can grow in areas with mild winters. Historically called "sand pears," these trees can be found in gardens as far south as Florida. If you want to grow a spring-flowering pear tree in central Texas or southern Georgia, try planting one of these apple-shaped Asian varieties.

Plant Attributes
Common Name Asian pear, apple pear, sand pear
Botanical Name Pyrus pyrifolia
Family Rosaceae
Plant Type Deciduous tree, shrub
Mature Size 10-30 ft. tall, 6-30 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Well-drained, fertile, adapts to clay
Soil pH Mildly acidic, neutral (6.0-7.0)
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 5-8 or 9
Native Area Asia
Toxicity Seeds are toxic to pets, toxic to people

Asian Pear Tree Care

Asian pear trees require a sunny location in your garden in deep, well-drained soil. A few varieties are self-fruiting, but even with those you'll get significantly more fruit if you plant two or more different selections. Don't expect a European pear to pollinate an Asian pear, as they bloom at different times. Fire blight is a problem for all pears, though Asian pears tend to be less susceptible than their European cousins. Choose resistant selections if this is a problem in your area. Plan to prune your pear tree annually for vigorous growth, good health, and a bountiful harvest.


Site your tree in a sunny spot with at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Consider whether large trees or buildings will block the sun before you plant your tree. Give dwarf trees at least 6 feet of space from other plants for good light and full-sized pears about 12 to 15 feet.


Asian pear trees prefer deep, well-drained, fertile, loamy soil, but can adapt to other soils. Have your soil tested with the local extension office before planting to make sure that it has a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. They will recommend the appropriate amendments if your soil is too alkaline. Heavy clay soils should be amended with 1/3 peat or coco fiber for drainage. Soils with poor fertility can be compensated for by fertilizing annually. Don't plant your tree where the soil is frequently wet.

Dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the rootball, loosening the soil in the process. When planting bare-root dwarf trees, the graft union must be 2 to 3 inches above the soil line so that the tree will maintain its size. Standard-size trees can be planted with the graft union at or just below the soil line. A potted tree can be planted at the same level as its nursery pot. Loosen or cut any circling roots to prevent girdling. Backfill the hole with the loosened soil, then add 3 or 4 inches of mulch around the tree, making sure it does not touch the trunk.


Water well when first planting and while the tree is getting established. In general, pear trees do best with an inch of water a week. Check the soil first; if it's moist, the tree does not need water. Larger, more established trees require less watering but should be watered during dry spells.

Temperature And Humidity

Asian pears are winter hardy throughout the South. In order to fruit, they require a certain number of chill hours, or total hours in winter when the temperature is below 45 degrees. For that reason, Asian pears cannot successfully be grown in a tropical climate. Some varieties will fruit as far South as Zone 8, while others will fruit in Zone 9. Choose a variety that is known for performing well in your zone.

Asian pears bloom earlier in spring than European pears, which means flower buds can be lost to a cold snap. Don't plant your tree at the bottom of a hill where cold air can drain and create a frost pocket.


It's always best to have your soil tested before applying fertilizer so that you can provide the correct balance of nutrients. If you have fertile soil, a layer of compost and mulch could provide all the nutrients your tree needs. You can feed your pear trees with a fertilizer such as Ferti-lome Fruit, Citrus and Pecan Tree Food, but in some cases this may add too much nitrogen to your soil, encouraging leafy green growth at the expense of flowers. Add fertilizer once a year in early spring.

Types Of Asian Pear Trees

Fall is a great time to plant Asian pears. Look for pear trees at your local nursery, or order online from,,, and The size of your pear tree will vary based on whether it is grafted to standard (at least 20 feet tall), semi-dwarf (12-15 feet tall), or dwarf (10 feet tall) rootstock. Many trees that are labeled as dwarf are actually semi-dwarf, so read the fine print. Here are a few popular disease-resistant varieties for growing in the South:

  • 'Shinko': brown, medium-to-large fruit ripens from late July to mid-August, high fire blight resistance
  • 'Korean Giant': brownish olive green fruit is large to very large, can weigh up to a pound, ripens from late August to mid- to late-September, high fire blight resistance
  • 'Ya Li': classic yellow-green pear color, ripens in September, moderate fire blight resistance, low chill requirement makes it a good option for farther south
  • 'Chojuro': golden-brown skin, notable for its butterscotch flavor, ripens in August, some fire blight resistance


Depending on the rootstock, Asian pear trees can grow up to 30 feet tall. You can prune them in late winter with a light trim to keep them to a more manageable size. They also can be trained as espaliers against walls or onto wire trellises. Expect to prune your tree while it is dormant every year for good vigor and fruiting.

Start by removing broken, diseased, weak, and narrow-angled branches. Using sharp, sterile pruners, make downward-slanting cuts about 1/4 inch from the trunk. It's usually best to give pear trees one central leader, or upright stem that is allowed to continue growing up and develop into a trunk. Make sure branches have at least 2 feet of vertical space between them. As you choose which branches to leave on the tree, favor those that are growing more horizontally than vertically.

If the tree is overburned from a heavy crop, you can thin the fruit when it's between the size of a nickel and a quarter. The pears can be left in clusters of two and spaced 4-6 inches appart. Unlike soft European pears, firm Asian ones should be left on the tree to ripen before picking. You'll know when the mature color develops and a few start to fall from the tree. Fruit can last three to four months if stored in the crisper of the refrigerator.

Propagating Asian Pears

Asian pear trees are grafted to the rootstock of another species to control the size of the tree and improve disease and pest resistance. Grafting also impacts the tree's cold hardiness and ability to tolerate various soil types. For these reasons, it's best to buy your Asian pear tree from a commercial grower.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Most Asian pear trees are at least somewhat susceptible to fire blight. Bacteria infect the tree during warm weather by entering through wounds on the tree. Entry points can be created by wind damage, hail, pruning, or insects. Symptoms include weeping from cankers in the bark, scorched-looking leaves and shoots, and dark and shriveled fruit. If the infection is in the trunk, the tree will eventually die.

In the South, choosing fire-blight-resistant varieties for your garden is the best course of action. Prune diseased twigs and branches of an infected tree in late winter, cutting 4-8 inches beyond affected areas. Sterilize pruning tools with a 10-percent bleach solution between each cut. In spring, don't use a high-nitrogen fertilizer or water the tree. This will reduce the amount of new growth, which is most susceptible to the bacteria.

Leafspot can appear as small purplish-brown spots on leaves and fruit. Remove and dispose of them in the trash, not the compost pile. Fungicides are not always effective, so contact your local extension office for advice if you are concerned.

Pear trees don't usually have serious insect problems or require spraying. Pear slugs and other large insects like Japanese beetles can be picked off by hand and dropped in a can of soapy water. The pear psylla is an orangey-brown, winged, jumping insect that feeds on sap, leaving a residue that can cause sooty mold. Control with insecticidal soap. Soft-bodied aphids that collect on the underside of leaves can be sprayed off with a strong stream of water or controlled with insecticidal soap. Problematic caterpillar infestations can be sprayed with Bt.

Deer and rodents may want to nibble on the tree. Tree guards and cages can help prevent damage to the bark of young trees.

How to Get Asian Pears to Bloom

If your tree isn't blooming, sun exposure or the health of the tree could be the issue. A late frost can also kill flower buds, so weather may be the culprit. The tree must have adequate chill hours, and a mild winter could affect flowering. Asian pear trees can take two or three years to settle in after planting and produce the first harvest.

Annual pruning in winter helps to encourage blooms. Increase light exposure if needed, and take steps to improve the health of your tree if it isn't thriving. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers in the future, unless soil testing indicates it is needed.

Common Problems with Asian Pears

The thin bark of young pear trees can sometimes be affected by sunscald. With very intense sun exposure, the bark can split, allowing diseases to enter. Wrapping the trunk of a young tree with white cloth or a white tree guard will protect it.

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