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Can I prune a conference pear into a cordon?

In March I planted out a conference pear. Its probaly 2 to 3 years old. My patch is quite small so I would like to prune it into a so it's just one vertical stem. It's spur bearing which makes it suitable for a cordon however it's not a dwarf variety (or dwarf rootstock - I'm not very good with my terminology sorry 😅)
Happy Gardening


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,281
    If its not on a dwarf rootstock you may struggle. Pears are usually grown as espaliers flat against a wall, or free standing.  When I was a child a neighbour had a wonderful row of espaliered fruit , grown on wires at the side of a path. They can also be pruned into u shape, but it really depends on how established your tree already is.  My conference started out supposedly as a maypole type. It did nothing by way of fruit. I let it have its head and it fruits well now.  I believe it needs a Quince A rootstock to grow as a cordon.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,157
    edited May 2022
    This has the information you need  

    My successful espaliered Concorde pear is on Quince A. 

    It was explained to me that a dwarfing rootstock is not used for espalier pears as they need a degree of vigour to respond to the severe pruning and produce the growth needed for the lateral branches.  It also helps overcome pear’s tendency not to fruit until more mature. 
    As with the espalier, you can stop your tree when it reaches the height you want. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • I'm not sure which rootstock it is. Ill have to have a look around for the label. I'm in a bit of a dilemma as I'm not growing it against a wall as I don't have any south facing and large enough walls for an espalier. I may have to prune it to a small pyramid?
    Happy Gardening
  • Would training the tree into a multi cordon be better with a u or double u shaped.
    Happy Gardening
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,157
    Our espalier isn’t growing against anything 

    We put in two posts and three strong wires to train it to. It acts like a fence screening our sitting out area from the veg patch. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 10,965
    West facing would be fine if that's an option for you - I have 4 pear cordons against a west-facing fence and they do well

    I've tried pruning an apple on dwarf rootstock into a pyramid and it didn't really work (but that my just be down to me). There's such a tangle of branches in the middle, many fruits got wedged-in and rotted and little air could circulate.
    I decided to cut all the middle out so it's more goblet shaped now and I think that will work better.

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • pinutpinut Posts: 187
    edited May 2022
    A tree can be shaped into any reasonable shape that you desire.

    For a self standing pear tree it must be shaped so that it can support the weight of the potentially heavy hanging fruit.

    If the main trunk and the branches are too long and not sufficiently thick enough then they will snap with a strong gust of wind when laden with fruit.

    Picture in your mind a self standing coat rack (a central pole with short pegs sticking out like arms) - that is the best shape for a columnar-like pear tree.

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