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Espalier pear trees

Pears are probably the most common espalier trees after grapevine. Cultivating pears as espalier is interesting in climates where pears wouldn't thrive otherwise, like high altitudes or colder climates. Some cultivars can easily be grown on sunny walls as espaliered pears. In regions with milder climates, growing pear trees as espaliers on facades allows to chose high quality pears which otherwise would only grow in southern countries. If "winter pears" are selected as espalier fruit, a cold, moist storage area must also be available to ripen the fruit... 

Latin: pyrus communis

Winter-pear on a wooden trellis

Requirements / Provenance

The soil should be deep and warm, the wall or facade should be facing south or west. In urban residential areas with ornamental juniper trees there is a risk of pear trellis rust. Pear rust is a fungus that uses the juniper as an intermediate host. It limits the assimilation capacity of the affected leaves, but does not afflict the fruits. Aesthetically, this fungus is a deathblow for a pear trellis. Already pruned pear espalier trees are available at local nurseries or via online stores.

Characteristics and Pruning

Fruits espaliers are trees formed by pruning. Pears are not self-fertile. There must be simultaneously flowering pollinator varieties, at most 200 meters away in the neighbourhood. There is information available online to find wich cultivars are suitable as pollinators for a given pear cultivar. This is especially important outside of arboriculture areas. Another difficulty is the different flowering times of different cultivars, and the fact that espalier fruits that are grown next to a wall or a facade are flowering much earlier. Having several other varieties in the area is certainly a good way to reduce the risk of infertility.

The espalier tree must be pruned according to the variety. There are many good instructions available in the literature or online, wich describe exactly where the cultivar will bear fruits and how it must be pruned.

When purchasing a tree, it must be ensured that they have been specially grafted as a "spindle bush" or "spindle tree" and that they are specifically sold as espalier trees. Some tree nurseries even provide trees with a double graft so that fertilization is assured.

Growing support for a pear

There is a table of all suitable shapes for wire rope trellises a the bottom of the page. For an optimal distance between the tree and the facade, choose a trellis in the heavy or massive range, if needed also in the middle or simple ranges. Pear espalier trees can be grown on a wooden trellis. In a field, use a 0050 trellis.

Pears can easily be pruned into various shapes by binding them to "climbing aids" or trellises, with either several horizontal levels, with vertical "U" shapes or angled "palmette shapes". To reduce maintenance efforts, there was trend from 1950 on to move away from strict shapes to nearly natural free "fan" shapes. Since two decades, tree nurseries provide already pruned and formed trees at affordable prices, wich has lead to a renaissance of traditional espalier shapes. The wire rope trellis form must be adapted to the tree it supports. Free shapes are require simpler trellises.

As described on the page dedicated to "formed trees", pear espalier trees need trellises whose main axes are spaced 35 - 40 cm apart. Wire rope trellises that are designed as square meshes must be modified accordingly during assembly.

Suitable wire rope trellis

Click on the image to find a suitable facade trellis design.

Small pear fruit tree
Espalier pear on an ancient historical meaningful building
Espalier fruit tree grown on the facade of a half-timbered house - the cultivar is probably "Josephine von Mecheln". Kohren-Salis / Saxe
Pear espalier tree on a wire rope trellis right before the harvest

Pruning and wire rope trellis

This gallery shows pictures that detail the pruning of the pear trees as well as trellises for espalier pear trees.

Simple "U" shape on a grapevine trellis with horizontal wires
Vertical branches - Pear tree with double "U" shaped branches - horizontal wires and cables (similar to wire rope trellis 8010)
Pear tree as a horizontal or vertical espalier fruit tree
Six-armed Verrier Palmette on a horizontal wire rope trellis
Espalier structures were built by tensioning horizontal wires between bamboo sticks.
Flowering espalier tree pruned to an irregular fan shape. Historical picture.
And so it begins: planting a grafted pear tree with a protection against rabbits.
Six years later: the pear (to the left) has been bound with a wire rope trellis system by FassadenGrün, pruned to a "free shape" and overflowing with fruit, next to two other trees.
Small pear espalier pruned to a vertical shape.
Pear tree trained with verticals and horizontals in winter
Pear espalier tree trained to a "U" shape and bound to a wire rope trellis from our "Heavy" range.
This espalier tree fruits has been trained to horizontal shapes
Espalier pear tree pruned to a mainly horizontal shape on a 1030 wire rope trellis.
Espalier tree on a horizontal wire rope trellis from our middle "Classic" range of trellises.
Espalier tree with a high trunk, trained by a tree nursery to a horizontal shape and fan shape.
Large pear espalier tree as a free form, Kohren-Salis / Saxony
.The same fruit tree espalier in spring during the flowering

Pears as espalier trees

Even if the trees have a perfect geometry, they often do their own thing in later years... Examples of decades-old espalier trees.

Ancient espalier pear prund to a fan-shape. Ludwigsstadt / Bayern
Pear espalier with three trees
Pear fruit espalier tree
Ancient espaliered pear pruned to a free shape in the frontyard of the castle Dornburg / Thuringia
Pear as espalier fruit. Piesteritz / Saxony-Anhalt
Wall greened with a pear espalier. Rochlitz / Saxony
This espaliered pear has been grown so as to reach up to the electrical wiring.
Two pear espalier trees with autumnal foliage
Old fruit espalier in winter (see summer photo on this page). Kohren-Salis / Saxony
These four house pears are grown on a 1010 wire rope trellis on a facade.
Who wouldn't want to dwell here in the soothing shade for a while? This pear was originally grown as an espalier, but lost its shape due to poor grafting and has grown to a full tree.
This pear has not been grafted and lost its shape, developing a large trunk.

Suitable wire rope trellises for pears.

Please click on the graphics to see a detailed view of each design!

= suitable       = sometimes suitable     = not suitable