Hardy pear trees are those that are able to grow and bear fruit even in cold or hot climates. Most are cultivars of Pyrus communis, or the European pear, which has a traditional pear shape and soft, juicy flesh. Although most European pear trees require pollination by another pear, a very few are self-pollinating, or self-fertile. Home gardeners who want to grow a pear tree, but live in cold or very hot climates and have limited space, should consider a hardy, self-pollinating variety.
The Kieffer pear is a hybrid of Pyrus communis and P. pyrifolia. It is extremely hardy, produces plump, greenish-yellow fruit -- and will thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, according to the Arbor Day foundation website. It is also self-pollinating, but even so, it will produce more fruit if planted with a pollinator. Kieffer pear trees grow to between 15 and 30 feet, with a canopy width of between 12 and 20 feet.
Bartlett pears are popular for a reason. Hardy and compact in size, they produce the best quality fruit of all pear trees, according to the University of California's Extension website. In fact, Bartlett trees account for over 75 per cent of commercially grown pears in the world. Unfortunately, they only self-pollinate in the arid west, including the valleys of Southern California. Bartlett pears grow in USDA zones 5 through 7 and have a maximum height and width of 20 feet.
Southworth pear trees are very hardy and can survive temperatures as low as 10 degrees C below zero F. This strong, self-pollinating tree is desirable for its hardiness and fruit, which is similar in size, shape and flavour to the popular Bartlett variety.
Nova is another pear tree that can survive temperatures well below zero. This versatile fruit does not drop early from the tree like many other pear varieties and is self-fertile. The fruit can be consumed before it is ripe, or after it ripens on the tree in mid-September.
Manning-Miller is rated as "very hardy" by St. Lawrence Nurseries of New York. This self-pollinating pear tree features firmer flesh than many that stands up well to processing and storage. This strong tree is also a prolific producer.
California is a hybrid of the red Bartlett and Comice varieties. This tree is self-pollinating and harvests earlier than most, in August. Unlike many other varieties, this one is considered hardy for its heat tolerance. This productive tree will thrive even in hot, inland valleys.
Comice is a strong, heat-hardy pear that is often used in gift packs because it ships so well. It is self-fruitful only in the arid west. It has a round shape with a very short neck and yellow to green skin with areas of red.
Warren is an excellent dessert pear, with soft, sweet flesh. Hardy to -6.67 degrees C below zero F, it is also self-fruitful, resistant to fire blight and stores very well.
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- St. Lawrence Nurseries: Pear Trees
- Arbor Day Foundation: Kieffer Pear
- University of California Cooperative Extension; Growing Temperate Tree Fruit and Nut Crops in the Home Garden and Landscape; Paul M. Vossen and Deborah Silver
- Dave Wilson Nursery: Pears --- European and Hybrid
- Arbor Day Foundation: Bartlett Pear