Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) Care Guide
Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), a deciduous woody plant of genus Pyrus, has simple and aromatic flowers blooming in early spring. The tree has a lifespan varied from 20 to 150 years and can grow to an average height of 8 - 9 m. Regardless of the species, the fruits of the genus Pyrus are all called pears, which ripen in fall and reward you with delicious taste.
Quick Care Guides
Water and Hardiness
Callery pear is cultivated widely in temperate and sub-tropical climatic conditions as it is resistant to both cold and heat. It can tolerate temperatures low as -26 ℃when it is dormant ( for some species and cultivars of genus Pyrus this can be even lower) and high as 45 ℃ in the growing season. Frost in spring is detrimental, and temperatures of 3 ℃ and less can kill open flowers, leading to fewer fruits.
It prefers medium or slightly dry conditions and demands little on humidity or watering. It is quite drought-tolerant once it established, but it may not be the case with waterlogging, so a site on higher ground or one not prone to waterlogging will be favorable for it.
callery pear grows in a wide range of soils, even sandy or chalky soils, but however, loamy soil can be the best. It does well in soils that are well aerated and well-drained, which is why they sometimes need slopes. Callery pear also likes slightly acidic to neutral soils (6.1-7.3), especially soil with a pH near 7, although some other species and cultivars can grow well in slightly alkaline soil.
Growing conditions for callery pear are fairly simple. It is not a fussy plant and not difficult to grow. You can start with a seedling purchased in a nearby nursery or online. Seedlings that are one year old can be transplanted into your garden where soils are well-drained in mid-winter. Space your trees 6 - 8 m apart to ensure air circulation.
Although some species can self-fertilize, you are recommended to plant at least two trees in the garden or orchard so that they can cross-pollinate to produce fruits. Notice that although different species and varieties can generally interbreed without compatibility issues, if you want to interbreed, ensure your trees are blooming at a similar time first.
If you want to grow your callery pear in containers, you are recommended to choose dwarf cultivars. Choose a large container at least twice as big as the root ball of your tree. Fill the pot with soil after putting the tree inside. You can place the pot where under full sun then.
As a drought-resistant plant, your callery pear does not need additional watering unless suffering from a long period of drought with heat. Callery pear should be watered when it is young during dry spells, as with pot plant. Generally, potted ones need 2.5 cm of water per week. If this is hard to measure, water deeply once you see the topsoil is dry and slightly whitish. Let it dry out between watering intervals and avoid frequent watering which can lead to root rot.
Manure and fertilizers should be applied each year early in spring. Be careful with nitrogen-rich fertilizer as overloaded nitrogen can lead to vulnerability to diseases. Callery pear is prone to boron deficiency, which can result in cracked or pitted fruits. When symptoms are observed a spray of 0.1% boric acid can be applied. If the soil is fertile, use less fertilizer.
The best time to prune callery pear is when the tree is dormant from winter till early spring, after leaf fall and before bud-formation. The central leader method is popularly used, to reduce old woody growth that is not productive to improve yields of the fruit. Never remove more than 25% of branches. this can be applied to pot trees as well.
Depending on the variety and species, callery pear takes 3 to 10 years to bear fruits, and the fruits mature by mid-summer to fall. Pears should be harvested when they are mature, but not ripe. They will ripen in storage. An easy way to do this is to put them together with fruits like bananas and apples, since ethylene that those fruits give out can accelerate the ripening. Unripe fruit can be stored in cool temperatures around 4 ℃ in the dark, without any light, for 1 to 2 months. After ripening, the fruit is usually consumed fresh or is processed by drying, pureeing, and canning, depending on your purpose and preference.
There are various methods used to propagate callery pear. You can collect seeds from mature pears, and you are recommended to prepare more seeds as the germination rate is low. Dry the seeds, wrap in wet paper towels in groups of 3, put the towels in seal bags, and place them in a dark but warm place to germinate. You can check every 15 days to see if you need to wet the towel again. plant those germinating seeds in pots and place them where sunny and warm. Keep the soil moist and wait for them to grow until you can transplant them into your garden.
If you think this is complicated, sow the seeds directly in the ground in winter also works. However, you can expect an even lower germination rate.
You can also do the grafting. Buy a rootstock for grafting if you are aiming at fruits. Grow your rootstock with seedlings. Grafting is best done from late winter to early spring.
Why are the leaves of my callery pear curling?
If there is no sign of pests or disease, your tree can be suffering drought. Water your tree more frequently and water deeply. As callery pear has a deep root system, watering only the topsoil cannot help.
Why is my callery pear not bearing fruit?
There can be various reasons for less- or non-productivity. Some species of Pyrus are not self-fertile as they cannot bear any fruits without either another compactable pear tree nearby or pollinators. If this is the case, you can hand pollinate them. Another reason can be insufficient sunlight. Because callery pear is hard to transplant after establishment, if you cannot make it unshaded, it may never fruit. Additionally, notice that if your tree is grown from a seed, it may hardly bear fruits in a couple of years.
Pests and Diseases
Fire blight is the disease that threatens callery pear the most. It develops during warm and wet springs by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora. The bacterium attacks the flowers and new shoots, causing shoot blight of growing tips, leaf wilt, and flower blight, initially. Then it can travel within the tree to the stems and affect trunks and branches and manifest as cankers. Affected fruits turn black and shrivel. The bacterium remains dormant in winter so prune all cankers in winter to stop further spread. Apply a copper spray to growing tips and stems in spring. As a last resort use chemicals such as streptomycin.
Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella) is a problem even when present in small numbers. The adults emerge in early summer and lay eggs on leaves and young fruits. The eggs hatch within a week and start boring into fruits. So, the best time to control this pest is to capture them as adults before they can lay the eggs. Use pheromones traps set once each week, or pheromone spray to disrupt mating. When all measures fail, use chemical pesticides.
Other Uncommon Pests or Diseases
Pear Psylla (Psylla pyri) is an insect found in the Pacific Northwest and is dangerous only in large numbers. Pears also differ in their susceptibility to psylla. They suck sap from leaves and produce honeydew which can coat the tree parts and lead to sooty mold growth. The pests cause premature leaf drop, weak fruit buds, and reduced shoot growth. In severe cases, the trees can get stunted or even die. Agricultural methods to control this pest are to limit vegetative growth by summer pruning and reducing nitrogen application. Insect predators, such as species of Anthocoris and Orius can also be used. You can try chemical spray as a last option.
Moreover, there are some less common pests and diseases listed below that need your attention:
- Powdery Mildew
- Crown, Collar and Root Rot
- Spider mites
- Pear plant Bugs