How to Grow a Pear Tree from Seed: Expert Tips and Tricks for Successful Germination

Pear trees (Pyrus communis) bear sweet fruit with crisp, white flesh. Many gardeners tend to shy away from growing fruit trees due to their delicate and temperamental nature. However, it’s quite easy to grow a pear tree from seed —you just need a little knowledge, patience, and careful planning. 

Typically, pear trees need at least three years before they’re able to produce fruit. When growing a pear tree from seed, it’s vital to note that most pear varieties aren’t self-pollinating. You’ll need to plant 2 different and compatible varieties of pears close by in order to harvest fruit. Also, pear seeds don’t always grow true to type and the fruit can look and taste totally different from the parent tree.

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What Are Pear Seeds?

Pear seeds are the small, brown, stony seeds inside a pear used to grow new pear trees. It’s possible to harvest seeds from inside the pears bought from the grocery store. The right time to collect then is when the pear is ripe, as you need mature seeds. Some pears ripen early in summer, while others later in the season. 

Cold stratification and indoor pear seed germination before planting them in the ground help increase the chances of them growing into healthy and fruitful pear trees. Saving pear seeds for an extended period of time isn’t recommended, as they lose viability over time. However, if you want to store them for a year or two, place them in a breathable container and put these containers in a room with low humidity. This will prevent the seeds from rot. 

Saving Seeds from Pears

Saving seeds from pears is simple and pretty enjoyable. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Cut open healthy, ripe pears with a sharp knife. We’d suggest one sharpened by an electric knife sharpener to ensure it’s been properly sharpened. 
  • Scoop the seeds out of the pear with a spoon and place them in a small bowl. 
  • Add warm water to the bowl and rinse the fruit pulp off the pear seeds. 
  • Lay the seeds onto paper towels to dry.
  • Fill a plastic bag with moist peat moss. Bury the pear seeds 2 to 3 inches in the peat moss and close the bag. 
  • Place the plastic bag in the bottom crisper drawer of the refrigerator for up to three months, or until the last frost date has passed. 
  • Ensure that the peat moss stays damp but not soggy the entire time it’s stored in the refrigerator.
SEE ALSO:   Bromeliads

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When and How to Harvest Pear Seeds

Before we tell you how to grow a pear tree from seed, let’s first look at the correct way of harvesting pear seeds. The best time to collect these seeds is from January to early February when the weather is still cold. This allows your seeds ample time to chill and germinate inside the fridge. 

You can plant your pear seeds in the ground by May or June once the danger of the last frost has passed and there’s plenty of sunshine. Some pears ripen early in the summer while others later in the season, depending on the variety. Be sure to collect seeds from ripe pears. Eat the pear and scoop out the seeds with the help of a knife. 

Collect as many seeds as possible because not all of them will germinate. Planting more seeds increases the likelihood of growing more trees. Soak the seeds overnight in a bowl of water. Keep only the seeds present at the bottom of the bowl, as the ones floating won’t germinate.

How Long Does It Take to Grow a Pear Tree from Seed?

You now know how to germinate a pear seed, and you might be wondering: how long will it take till I can harvest my very first pear?

Well, the total time it takes to grow a pear tree from seed includes the germination time and the time it takes for the seedling to mature once you transplant it. 

You first have to keep the seeds in a resealable plastic bag for 60 to 90 days to start the germination process. The rate of germination will depend on the variety of pear seeds you have. After this cold stratification process, you’ll have to leave the seeds in a bowl of warm water for a couple of days before planting them in peat pots.  

After transplantation, a seedling can take from 3 to 10 years to mature into trees that can bear fruit.

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5 Tips for Growing a Pear Tree from Seed

Growing a pear tree from seed is a lengthy process and requires a series of steps. The following tips can ensure that your pear seed grows into a tall, healthy, fruit-bearing tree:

  • Preparing the Pear Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide

To grow a pear tree from seed, first, fill a resealable plastic bag with moss and bury at least 4 viable pear seeds in it. Make sure the moss is damp and not waterlogged.  

SEE ALSO:   Outdoor Plants - Campanula

Keep this bag in your fridge drawer for 60 to 90 days to start the germination process. Be sure to check the moisture level in the peat moss every couple of weeks.

Remove the seeds from the refrigerator and the plastic bag when outdoor temperatures remain steady above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Soak them in a bowl of warm water for two days to help soften the hard outer shell. 

Place biodegradable peat pots on top of a plastic water tray. Fill the peat pots 3/4th of the way with organic potting soil. Remove the pear seeds from the bowl of water and lay one pear seed on top of the potting soil in each peat pot. Cover it with a 1/2-inch layer of potting soil.

Water the pear seeds until the soil is moist. Cover the peat pots loosely with plastic wrap to raise the humidity. Set the plastic tray and peat pots indoors in a warm location that receives plenty of indirect light. Keep the soil moist until the pear seeds germinate.

Remove the plastic wrap when the pear seeds sprout above the soil line in each peat pot. Move the water tray and peat pots to an indoor location that receives brighter light, such as a windowsill. Continue keeping the soil moist for several months or through the winter months.

The first sprouts that you see in the cup are cotyledons and not actually leaves. Wait until you see leaves that look like pear tree leaves. When you see at least 4 true leaves on the seedlings, it means that they’re ready to be transplanted. 

  • Choosing the Right Soil for Pear Seed Germination

A sterile, well-drained germinating medium that consists of equal parts sand and peat moss, vermiculite or perlite is best for indoor pear seed germination. Moss retains water, so you won’t need to water it too often. 

  • Optimal Temperature and Lighting for Pear Seed Germination

During the germination period, keep the containers or pots you’ve planted the seeds in covered with a glass or plastic covering. You can also place the entire container in a plastic bag to increase the humidity, reducing the need for frequent watering. 

Make sure the containers receive plenty of bright but indirect light. 

The optimal temperature for pear seed germination ranges from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the seedling emerges, remove the glass or plastic covering and reduce the watering frequency.

  • Watering and Feeding Your Pear Seedlings: Dos and Don’ts

Keep the pots that contain your pear seedlings moist and not soggy, as too much water can stunt their growth or result in root rot. Make sure that the pots have a small hole at the bottom to allow the water to drain. Adding mulch helps to avoid loss of moisture. 

  • Transplanting Your Pear Seedlings: How to Do It Right

Plant the pear seedlings in well-draining soil, in a location that receives full sunlight when the threat of frost has passed. Break up the soil in a planting area twice the size of the peat pot the pear tree is growing in, and mix in organic compost. 

SEE ALSO:   Horse Chestnut Tree

Dig a hole the same size as the peat pot. Trim off the top edge of the peat pot, so it is even with the soil level inside. Place the peat pot into the planting hole and backfill it with soil. Water the soil well. Space multiple pear seedlings at least 20 feet apart from each other to accommodate the growing root systems.

How Do You Care For a Pear Tree?

Keeping the following tips in mind while caring for your pear tree will ensure that it thrives:

  • Support the young pear tree trunk with a wooden stake. This will keep the trunk erect while it grows stronger.
  • Install a guard around the tree’s base to protect it from animals. Damage to the young tree trunk can disrupt the flow of nutrients and water to various parts of the sapling, leaving it susceptible to mold and infection.   
  • Adding ammonium nitrate fertilizer once a year in spring helps to keep the soil fertile. Start using less fertilizer once your pear tree starts growing faster. 
  • Water your tree weekly during the first year to keep the soil moist. During dry spells, be sure to water it regularly to help it grow.
  • Pruning in early spring or when necessary helps to ensure a steady flow of nutrients to healthy branches.

Conclusion

Not many things can compare to the joy of seeing a tree grow from the seed that you’ve planted. Growing pear trees from seeds not only makes it possible for you to enjoy fresh and organic pears that you’ve grown yourself, but they’re also a great addition to your landscaping display.

Prepare to spend at least a few months just readying the pear seeds for germination before planting. If you take good care of your seedlings, you can grow pear trees from seed that will bear large bounties of fruit year after year.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2013 and has been completely updated.

6 thoughts on “How to Grow a Pear Tree from Seed: Expert Tips and Tricks for Successful Germination”

  1. Douglas Klug

    I have had great success growing pear seedlings from seed using the following method with close to 100% germination and it has worked so far with bosc, bartlet, anjou, red, and apple pears.
    1. Buy your fruit from your favorite vendor.
    2. Eat your pear and then by hand squeeze or otherwise remove the seeds discarding any that are not fully developed.
    3. Rinse the seeds in water to remove excess pulp and using paper towels remove any more pulp that you can.
    4. Carefully remove the outer husk using your fingernails and discard any you damage or any that are not a light almond color.
    5. Put your seeds between 2 moist paper towels(not dripping wet) and put in a warm location.
    6. Check carefully every 12 hours for signs of sprouting, plant at first sign of any growth.
    7. If the paper towel dries up or you miss the first sprouting, you will probably need to start over.

    I have 37 pear seedlings about 3-4 inches tall and have only lost 2 after the leaves appeared. This method is also working on grapefruit but the husk is harder to remove, I have 7 grapefruit seedlings about the same size as my pear seedlings.

  2. Anita Lou Godkin

    This is what I did for a simple successful germination. I just planted 3 seeds in very good potting soil and three days later, I have 3 pear seedlings…just like that!

    1. KELLY L SCOTT

      stratify your seed Barbara in a cool place for several weeks until you see them swell and begin to sprout .. then plant in a good soil medium and keep them watered every other day or so but not soaking them .. just light watering .. they will be ready to put into a larger pot in spring of find a safe place to plant in spring .. 🙂 I have a half dozen red pears growing .. so much fun .. can’t wait to get them into the ground this spring when safe to do so

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