Starting Pear trees from seed

melani_moSeptember 9, 2003

My mother collected some seed from some old pear trees that produce wonderful pears. I've never tried something like this from seed and wanted to ask for your advice.

Do they need a cold treatment, pre-soaking, etc? What would give me the best odds of being successful? If it matters, the seeds are from the Ozarks.

Thank you,


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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)


Just so you know before you embark on this project, seeds from pears will not give you the same pears.

The only way to propagate a specific variety, known or unknown, is to do it by vegetative propagation, meaning taking scion cuttings and grafting, etc, It isn't easy for the novice. Sigh.

That's not to say you might get something interesting 5-8 years down the road, you might, but it won't be the pears you knew from that tree.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2003 at 5:49PM
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Oh really, I thought since they aren't hybrids that I'd get the same tree and fruit. Well, this changes things, guess I won't bother.
Thanks for your answer, though.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2003 at 6:41PM
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As others have indicated, seedling pears won't necessarily produce fruit anything like the parent that bore the fruit - it's something of a genetic crapshoot. Additionally, seedling pears have a relatively long 'juvenile' period - you might be waiting 15-20 years for them to fruit; there's an old saying, "Plant pears, plant for your heirs"- a testament both to their longevity, but also to the long juvenile period.

Pears are one of the easiest species for a novice grafter to work with - I often kid that if you can get the scion(cutting from the original tree) and the rootstock in the same room together, you're almost assured of success. Grafting is not rocket science, and you don't have to have any expensive equipment - pruners, a boxcutter/exacto knife, a rubber band, and a wax toilet gasket will work just fine, if you're not intending to do large numbers of grafts. Pear rootstocks are pretty inexpensive(you could even buy a cheap Bradford pear and 'convert' it over to a fruiting pear tree. Or, you could grow out your seeds and use them as rootstocks for topworking to varieties with known fruit quality.

Some pears can be propagated from cuttings - I've seen some started just by sticking a sizeable cutting in the ground, but suppose that rooting hormones, etc. would increase successes with those varieties that lend themselves to propagation in that manner.

The MU Hort Agguides have several good online publications on grafting/budding, or you could check with your county Cooperative Extension Service office for information.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 11:36AM
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Mader631(z4 WI)

How easy is it to take cuttings of pears??? I mean Clone them just with Rooting Hormone......?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2004 at 5:42PM
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If you want to start the pear seeds they will start in moist peat.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2004 at 9:27AM
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If you haven't already, I suggest you check out the Fruit forum on here. When ever I have questions regarding my peach trees, I go there and ask and they are able to answer all my questions and more.


    Bookmark   October 31, 2004 at 3:54PM
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kathyjo_mo(z5 Mo)

I was wondering if you ever had any luck with your seeds? I want to try it this year. My cousins have what I think is close to a seckel pear. It has almost definitely come up from a seed from another pear tree about 100 feet away.

What I believe is the parent tree has even smaller pears and even the leaves look a little different.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 6:31AM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

may i tell you my experience? and, i am in the ozarks.
when my mother died , she had just picked up a wheelbarrow of keifer pears from our trees. well, with everything going on, they rotted, and were dumped into the pasture. the 2 trees that are there now, ARE pear trees, but the trees have thorns, of all things! the pears get about the size of a golfball, round, with the nubs on the ends like a delicous apple, and are completely inebile, also very, very hard.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 8:42AM
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mistercross(z6b Ozarks)

On the other hand, you can sometimes get a tree producing fruit the same as what you planted. 7 or 8 years ago I saved pits from all of my storebought fruit. They got no special care, some of them sat around for months until they were all set out and covered with a little dirt. Naturally most of them didn't grow, and only one eventually survived, but there was now no way to tell what type of fruit tree it was. Finally, after waiting many years, the tree produced a few apricots. They were large and bland-tasting, just like the storebought apricots that produced them!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 5:02AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Mistercross, apricots self-pollinate so they are more likely to come true to seed. Same goes for peaches. Pears and apples are cross-pollinated so ceresone's experience is the common one. Pears do have thorns when they are immature, but when you buy a young tree the tree was grafted and so the top part has already passed through its juvenile period. I was pruning my pears a few weeks ago and noticed some thorns on one. Looking at the base of the tree I noticed this limb was a sprout from the seedling rootstock, not the main variety, and I pruned it off.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 9:50PM
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kathyjo_mo(z5 Mo)

I bought three peach trees in the early seventies that all died above the graft. I let them grow from below the grafts and they produced the most wonderful white peaches I had ever tasted.

I was also thinking if I was successful with starting small pears trees and the pears weren't very good to eat, I or someone could graft some other variety on them.

However, as Lucky states above you plant pears for heirs. I may be in my mid 70's before I figure out what kind of pears these produce.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 6:18AM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

these trees are way past the immature stage, i think they will always have thorns--but--it does keep the horses away from the fence. trees started from the rotten pears in 1977. But, the trees i started 5 years ago are bearing, they're a oriental type, i believe, extremely sweet soft type pear.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 4:18PM
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I live in North Fl, and most of the pears that do well here are hard, have hard spots in them, and not very good, called sand pears. I found one that was producing very good tasting hard pears with no hard spots, and produced heavily. I have potted some dormant cuttings and am waiting to see what happens. I was reading some things about grafting onto quince rootstocks. I don't know what a quince is or where to get their seeds. I also have some seedlings from the same pear. Does anyone know if the Florida sand pears take well from cuttings, and what is the best season in which to take the cuttings, or if pear seedlings make a good rootstock, or where to get quince seeds, and if quince rootstocks are a good idea for florida? thanks,


    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 10:26PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Michael, sand pears are crosses made from Asian and European pears. They are not likely to be able to root from cuttings. Pears can be grafted onto either quince or pear rootstock. Some varieties are not compatible with quince and so pear may be your best choice. Mellingers for example sells pear rootstocks. If you buy several of them and try grafting on all of them you will probably get at least one that works. Googling on grafting will pull up plenty of descriptions on how to do it; pears are a good tree to start on since they are one of the easiest kinds of trees to graft.

I don't know a whole lot about sand pears, but it could be the one that you like is a standard variety that is just planted in a better spot. Most sand pears are the "Keiffer" variety which is very popular in the south--it is resistant to fireblight and in general very easy to grow.


    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 10:03PM
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I agree that pears are a good subject for grafting. I have grafted pear onto fruiting quince (cydona)which acts as a dwarfing rootstock. However I recently grafted Bramley cooking apple onto ornimental pear rootstock, and European onto Asian pear. I have also grafted pear onto Hawthorn (Crataeagus Monognya)which was very sucessful.

Next year I am hoping to graft flowering quince onto the top of a pear tree to create a massive flowering tree. Has anyone tried it or seen it done? MacD

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 10:49PM
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I'm reading this thread with interest...

About 5 years ago, I transplanted a Bradford Pear sucker, from one of my existing trees. The tree is now 12 feet tall and doing well. Execpt for the fruit. This year the fruit is huge, almost the size of a full sized pear. 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Has anyone ever see this?

Is is possibly safe to eat?

Comments welcome,


    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 9:11AM
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kathyjo_mo(z5 Mo)

I would certainly think the pears from this tree would be safe to eat. You may already know this but pick the pear before it's ripe and let it ripen off the tree. I would love to know how this turns out.

I have some really neat looking baby pear trees from the pear tree seeds I mentioned above. I am going to try whip grafting in the early spring from the original old tree onto my selfgrown rootstock.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 9:49AM
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I have some seed from an old, old pear tree my great grand parents started in the 20s. I got the seed from a pear that was harvested from it last year. I havenÂt ever found a pear that tastes as good as these. Someone said earlier that pears were cross-pollinated but, my grandmother tells me that they only had this ONE pear tree on the farm. Is this possible and if so, wouldn't that make my seeds exactly like the parent. Thanks, Spencer.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 11:47PM
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I live in Michigan, and I've managed to get seeds from a pear tree that is over 200 years old. I believe it was a seckel pear... the sad part is that the owners of the tree tell me that the tree was dead, and they're going to cut it down. I'm just grateful I was able to find some of it's dried up rotten pears on the ground... I think it'd be cool to have some pear trees whose mother was the oldest pear tree in our area. I wouldn't mind it being a different variety. I'm new at gardening, (I'm 16) but I have had very good success so far at whatever I've planted, and I figure this would be kind of a cool experiment. I'm looking for any tips I can get regarding planting pears from seed.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 11:56AM
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Some of you might benefit by looking up Nafex.

Pears rarely come true from seed, however, Seckel is one variety that quite often produces seedlings as good as or sometimes better than the parent. Keiffer is the exact opposite. It rarely produces pears as good as the parent.

There is a grove of pear trees near Dadeville Alabama started by a guy who just liked to collect different types of pears. The last count I had, there were over 350 different kinds in a 4 acre plot.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 10:20PM
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I learned an interesting lesson about seedling pears just last week...

Some seedling pears turn out to be quite bitter and astringent, or rock hard... but it's not a good reason to totally discount them... at least until you see what they are like if you totally ripen them and/or cook them...

Several I found in the area here are like hard, brown, astringent golf balls until a couple of hard freezes completely kill them and turn them soft...

Then, they turn into something magical that is worthy of cultivating for Jelly and Pear Cider.... The flavor comes out Big Time! One of them has a brix that runs in the 19-20 range with wonderful tart acidity.... but it's totally unpalatable until it is dead ripe and gets frozen a couple times.... and is quite gritty, even when mushy ripe.... but you wouldn't believe the jelly it makes!

So... I would plant them out, just to see what happens....


    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 3:03PM
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So just how long does a pear tree grown from seed usually have thorns instead of fruit? Mine's about 5 years old and I'm about ready to take it down before I lose an eye or bleed to death.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 4:23PM
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found a local sand pear with nice fruit. would like to start another from cuttings.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 10:47AM
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