Apples and pears make themselves at home
By Urban Harvest
Apples and pears are a delight in the home garden — beautiful
when in bloom, rewarding when in fruit and offering a graceful
As if their beauty and delicious harvest were not enough, apples
and pears are one of the easiest fruits to grow in the home
garden. They require less pruning than stone fruits, and they do
not demand a complicated spray schedule.
Apples and pears are in the family of fruits known as pomes
fleshy fruits with several seed chambers instead of the
single-seed characteristic of stone fruits such as peaches and
plums. Other well-known fruiting pomes are loquats and quince,
and ornamental favorites such as hawthorns, roses and pyracantha.
pear tree can be expected to
live for decades, so choose your tree wisely. There are a few
things you must take into consideration before making your
selection: chill requirements, pollination, location and
Apples and pears grown in most of the Houston area must be rated
as "low chill" varieties. Explaining chill hours thoroughly can
get a bit complicated. Simply put, many fruiting and flowering
plants require a period of exposure to temperatures between 32
and 45 degrees Fahrenheit in order to complete dormancy, and be
ready to bloom and set fruit the following spring.
This exposure does not have to be continuous. It is the
cumulative number of hours throughout fall and winter. The total
number of chill hours required varies greatly by variety.
The number of chill hours that can be expected also varies
widely across the Houston area. The Cypress/Bear Creek area can
expect approximately 600 hours, downtown can expect 450 hours,
and the Pasadena/South Bay area can expect 350 to 450 hours.
There are apple and pear varieties that are self-fruitful,
meaning they do not require another variety to provide pollen in
order to set fruit. Some do require pollen from another variety
and even those listed as self-fruitful will benefit if there is
another variety in the area.
This can be a concern for homeowners with space limitations.
There are several ways pollination can be assured without
planting an entire orchard of apples and pears.
Remember pollinating insects have a feeding range. The tree that
provides pollen to your tree does not necessarily have to be in
your own landscape. If a neighbor has a suitable variety in
their landscape, your tree will benefit.
The pollinizer does not necessarily have to be a fruiting
variety. Bradford pears and flowering crabapples can be used as
Another method to assure pollination is to plant the new
two-in-one trees. These trees have two varieties grated to one
rootstock, and are the perfect solution for the small garden.
Apples and pears need plenty of sunlight to bloom and fruit
properly. You will need a location that receives sun most of the
day. Early morning sun and adequate circulation help the dew dry
quickly, which can help to reduce the incidence of
moisture-borne disease, lessening the need to spray.
Apples and pears require excellent drainage. Avoid any location
where water stands for several hours after a rain. Plant them in
raised beds if there is any doubt.
Apples and pears lend themselves to more choices in training
than almost any other fruit. They can be grown in standard tree
form; trained as espalier against a wall or fence; or as a
cordon, a row of trees each trained to a single, fruit-bearing
Apples and pears are well-suited to the new high-density home
orchard management system. This system is new relatively and it
opens up opportunities to grow more varieties of fruit in the
space allowed. Urban Harvest offers a class and the information
Angela Chandler's website
Dorsett Golden are two
low-chill apples that are well-suited to our area.
Suitable pear varieties include Hosui, Atlas Super Orient,
Southern Bartlett, Southern Queen,
Tennessee and Tennesui.
These apples and pears will be among the fruits available at
the upcoming Urban Harvest fruit tree sale
on January 19th.
This article is provided by Urban Harvest,
Inc. To learn about gardening classes, farmers markets, school
and community gardens and more go to
www.urbanharvest.org or call 713-880-5540 for more
information. The article is written by Angela Chandle, who is a
Harris County Master Gardener and Heidi Sheesley who is the
TreeSearch Farms Inc., a
wholesale grower of perennials, natives and unique plants,