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Pear tree flowers

I have been growing a family pear tree in a very large Vine pot for several years now, a gift from my sister. Although it has had leaves and I think one variety has died there has never been a single flower until this year. Patience is a wonderful thing! Now I am looking forward seeing if there might be a pear or two setting so that I can identify which variety it is. Pears are notoriously difficult to grow down here in Cornwall so fingers crossed. I am a sucker for a challenge.
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  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,511
    Congratulations on your first flowers! I’m interested to know why they don’t grow easily in Cornwall - too dry? too humid? wrong soil?

    Reason being I inherited half a dozen pear trees planted in heavy clay, that didn’t flower last year or the year before that for previous owner, despite looking around 5 years old and having been pruned into lovely vase shapes by the owner before him. They were quite sickly and overgrown though, previous owner did nothing. I cleared away all the grass, mulched heavily, watered copiously. Not a single flower bud. I’m hoping for some this year, fingers crossed x
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • One of the reasons pears are difficult down here are the Spring Equinox storms which blow  the blossom off the trees or damage it. If you have a sheltered walled garden such as at Heligan,( or in my friends garden!), pears will crop. Clay soil is fertile but can be difficult for trees to get established in their early days of being planted. It gets rock hard in dry weather and waterlogged in wet weather.  Your trees at 5 years oldish are still babies in an tree's life span so be patient, hopefully in the next 2/3 years you will get some fruit. Also, when flower buds do appear, watch where they are on the branches, it may be the fruiting buds have been pruned off. Fruit trees can be tip bearing, fruit on 1st year or 2nd year wood so will need to be pruned accordingly. The colour of the bark will tell you which years growth is fruit bearing.

    You have done the right thing in clearing the ground around the base of trees, less competition for nutrients for the trees. Pears are early flowerers, as is quince which have learnt to my cost. They belong to the same family. Also, fruit trees do not start cropping for at least 5 years and sometimes longer. A few years ago I was given 6 whips from 6 different Cornish apple trees to grow on. I only managed to get one to grow, it has taken 7 years to produce a typical fruit, I came very close to throwing it out last year because the odd fruit produced in years 5 and 6 were so disappointing. I discovered it is a tip cropper so pruning has to be judicious, last year just one apple stayed undamaged on the tree until fully ripe and was delicious so the tree has had a reprieve for the time being.

    Commercial growers/breeders are producing fruit trees, patio trees, family trees etc.  which produce fruit on very young trees, however, the trauma of being taken out of its cossetted ideal growing conditions, transplanted into alien soil in an alien area with alien weather conditions will often set back fruit trees for several years.

    Patience and TLC will repay you in bucket loads, eventually!

  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,511
    Thank you so much Joyce, for all that information, seven or eight years before you see a single flower bud? I had no idea they took so long!! Its possible the trees a a bit older than I think. It’s also possible the soil was not prepared properly, they are under stress from our south easterly winds that do hit that terrace (they don’t appear to have ever been staked) or because there is not enough soil depth - it’s hideous hard clay and thin and rocky to boot so quite tricky to find a gap deep and wide enough for planting. I struck lucky with the quince I recently planted (love quince tarte tatin and membrillo) and found a good depth first go, but that’s rare!

    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • As your soil is so poor, do not expect great things from your fruit trees as they are always going to struggle, unstaked trees are a problem as well as the roots cannot get purchase in the soil to feed and grow, because of wind rock, possibly another reason why your trees are not doing well. They reckon you should leave stakes in for at least 5 years as this is how long it takes for trees to establish a secure root system. also as a rough rule of thumb for most trees, the root system of trees extends from the base of the trunk outwards in distance to the size of the head of the tree. ie. a 30 ft tree will have a root system which spreads in a circle 15ft all the way around the base of the trunk, making a 30ft diameter. Does that make sense? If the roots are hitting impenetrable subsoil they will never do well.

    Quince.

    I have wanted a quince tree for a long time and finally bought one. It was supposed to be a 5yrs old half standard Vanja. It was in my garden for 3 years before it had any flowers, which were blown off in the Spring gales, each year since  it has had flowers, most blown off but quite beautiful, and a couple of fruit set but didn't mature. Last year a single fruit matured which I was able to pick, cook  and put with some apple. The tree must now be around 9+ yrs old and is just coming into leaf so I am holding my breath yet again. My soil is very shallow with compacted shale below so it takes trees a long time to establish, I made a raised bed before planting the tree, also I am high up so catch wind badly from any direction, my quince is still staked. Looking at the fruit last year I do not think it is a Varnja but a common quince. I am waiting to see what shape the fruit is going to be this year before I go back to the nursery where I bought it to jump up and down and complain as I wanted a dwarf tree and the one I have is Very VIGOROUS! I have to prune really thoroughly each year to keep its size within bounds.

    Good luck with your quince, and the apple trees!

  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,511
    Thanks Joyce, not sure I have your patience but will soldier on for another year with the pears. My quince is (theoretically) a vranja on dwarf root stock but (a lot) of time will tell!
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,511
    Joyce, my newly planted (I think 2 year old) vranja quince is flowering already, I am thrilled, I did not expect that! We did have a week of solid nonstop rain followed by really sunny weather so maybe that did the trick. No sign of the pears tho, of course!
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Hi Nollie,

    I went to check my Vranja today. It looks very healthy from a distance. On closer inspection I have found about 2-3 ins of die back on most branch ends and some wind burn-frost damage on small shoots lower down the branches. I was quite despondent as I thought there were no flower buds, until I looked very carefully and lo and behold, there are masses of tightly furled, very small flower buds, still tucked up in bed. You must be a good month ahead of me so I hope the late season means the flowers will not be stripped off by the Spring Equinox gales which are blowing through at the moment. The ordinary pear flowers are starting to open so no idea how many flowers will survive the current very chilly East winds.

  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,511
    Congratulations Joyce, fingers crossed your quince flowers survive. I also now have one pear tree in flower which is even better - celebrations all round!
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • I have a couple of pear trees which ineglected for several years until last year when I got interested in gardening. I mulch the trees over winter and started feeding them with fish blood and bonemeal, this year I have had more blossom than ever before. I am a bit worried about the cold.
  • The main problem with cold weather is the lack of insects for pollination, it shouldn't affect the flowers unless the temperature drops below zero when the flowers can become frosted and ruined.

    Cold winds however can strip the blossom and that again means no fruit. If you can, drape a sheet of fleece over the trees if they are not too big, at night if low temperatures are forecast, until the end of May. Pears are one of the earliest flowering fruits which is why they are more susceptible to extreme weather conditions.

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