Asian Pears

Once you’ve tried a sweet, crisp, incredibly juicy Asian pear, you’ll be hooked.

Because the fruits bruise easily in transport, they can be hard to find (and expensive) in grocery stores, but gardeners in much of the country can grow their own.

Asian pear is a handsome oval- to vase-shaped small tree with pretty white flowers in early spring and glossy green leaves. The original species (often called Chinese sand pear) has small, gritty fruits, but centuries of selection and hybridization have resulted in many cultivars blessed with large, tender fruits that ripen in late summer or early fall.

Give this unique and tasty fruit a try in your own garden.

Common name: Asian pear

Botanical name: Pyrus pyrifolia selections

Plant type: Deciduous fruit tree

Zones: 5 to 9

Height: 15 to 30 feet

Family: Rosaceae


Growing conditions

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Loamy garden soil, average fertility
  • Moisture: Evenly moist, but well-drained

Care

  • Mulch: 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch
  • Pruning: Prune to develop regularly spaced branches and a semi-open crown.
  • Fertilizer: Apply compost or balanced fertilizer each spring.

Propagation

  • Grafting


Pests and diseases

  • Susceptible to some insects and diseases including codling moth, fireblight and bacterial canker

Cultivars

  • ‘20th Century’ (syn. ‘Nijisseki’) is one of the most widely available cultivars and has large yellow-skinned fruit.
  • ‘Hosui’ has very large, sweet, bronze-skinned fruit.
  • ‘Ya Li’ has oval fruit with smooth yellow-green skin.
  • ‘Shinsui’ has early-ripening fruit with golden russeted skin.

Garden notes

  • Most Asian pears require cross pollination to fruit, so plant two different cultivars near each other.
  • Asian pears must be allowed to fully ripen on the tree before harvest, unlike European pears which can be picked green and then allowed to finish ripening indoors.
  • You don’t have to relegate Asian pears to a separate orchard—their handsome foliage and pretty flowers make them suitable for specimen planting anywhere in the landscape.

All in the family

  • Asian pear is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae), a large family of woody and herbaceous plants.
  • Many other fruit trees are members of this family, including cherries, apples, peaches and plums.
  • Pears like the familiar ‘Bartlett’ and ‘Bosc’ are selections from Pyrus communis (common or European pear).

Where to buy