espaliered pear trees

Garden Structures

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I have two espaliered pear trees in my community plot. This week I pruned them and tired up some stray branches. My new pear tree has 5 little pears that set. The older Bartlett tree again had no fruit – like last year. It has crossed my mind that maybe its because I am pruning them wrong. Could this be? Maybe I should prune earlier in the year.

9 Comments. Leave new

  • Your espaliered trees look really good Kathy! Have you looked into pruning techniques to ensure maximum fruit? I've always wanted to learn how the experts do it.

  • No I haven;t. I would like to know too!

  • The last book I read on pear trees said to prune in the late winter, February or March, but I'm not sure if that's true for espaliered trees.

  • Pears need cross pollination. What kind is your new pear?

  • I have forgotten the name of my new pear. That's why I have two – for cross-pollination. A pair of pears….

    What I can't figure out is why the second pear tree has fruit on it when the first (the Bartlett) did not flower. Hmm. I suppose another pear tree within pollination distance.

  • I am wondering if I am pruning too late (June) and cutting off next year's fruiting buds. I think I will try pruning late winter as you mention. Why would espaliered be any different?

  • Kathy, I also have two espaliered pear trees in my backyard (Toronto, ON). Only one of them flowers – the other, late in leafing and no flowers – 4th year now. They are also full of rust, unfortunately – host culprit is the weeping false cyprus (probably 15 years old, if not older). We didn't spray with dormant oil this spring – did last year and rust spots were greatly reduced. Oh well…I may trade them in for apple trees if the unsightliness causes me to lose sleep! Not so far…to much else to do in the garden!

  • Normally fruit trees are pruned when they are fully dormant, sometime in the winter. Here in my climate, most people do this just after the winter solstice in early January, but that might not be practical for you. The idea is you should let the tree keep as much of it's foliage as long as possible, so it can store up energy for next years harvest.

    You can also do summer pruning, but this is usually for the purpose of stimulating new growth.

    I don't have any espaliered fruit trees, nor do I know anyone personally who does. It could be you have to take a completely different approach for these, I don't know…

    Fruit trees depend on pollinators. If there are no bees around when the trees are blooming, they won't set fruit unless you hand pollinate with something like an artists paintbrush. Usually pears are late enough, but for example peaches and nectarines in many climates bloom before the pollinators come out, and often have to be hand pollinated.

  • I only just discovered your blog today, and I love it! I will put this link on my gardening website's blogroll. I have an espaliered belgian fence consisting of mini-dwarf apple trees and one barlett pear on mini-dwarf rootstock. My tree is about 5 years old, and it too has not ever set any fruit, but lots of flowers. I think, at least for me, part of the problem is I don't have another tree apparently that is acting as a polinator for the pear–it does bloom first of all the trees. I was hoping a crabapple tree would polinate it, but it looks like it isn't. Another thing an old-timer with fruit trees told me is the color of the polinator's blossom is best if it matches the color of the fruit tree you want it to polinate, so white in the case of the Bartlett. I think I'm going to have to find out what will polinate the Barlett, and then graft it on. For pruning, you might want to see if your library has Pruning and Training: A Fully Illustrated Plant by Plant Manual, by Christopher Brickell and David Joyce, part of the American Horticultural Society line of plant reference books. It has a good section on espaliered fruit trees that might help.


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