How To Grow Medlar Trees: A Guide For Gardeners

Growing Medlar

Growing Medlar

Medlar is a unique and rewarding plant to grow, as it is both edible and has many decorative uses. Medlars have a sweet and tangy flavor, perfect for adding to desserts, jams, or making into jellies. Growing medlar is also a great way to bring in some extra pollinators to your garden. The white, fragrant blooms attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects, as well as adding beauty to your property. Medlar is a versatile and rewarding plant to grow, producing fragrant blossoms, delicious fruit, and offering a variety of uses in the garden.

How to Grow Medlar Trees: A Guide for Gardeners

Choosing the Right Variety

When growing medlar trees, it's important to select a suitable variety for your climate and garden conditions. Some popular choices include:

  • Nottingham - a self-fertile variety with large fruits
  • Royal - produces heavy crops and has a sweet flavor
  • Westerveld - known for its disease resistance and early maturity

Planting Medlar Trees

Follow these steps to ensure successful planting:

  1. Choose a sunny location with well-drained soil
  2. Dig a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the tree's root ball
  3. Place the tree in the hole, making sure it sits at the same depth as it was in the nursery
  4. Backfill the hole with soil and tamp it down gently
  5. Water the tree thoroughly after planting

Caring for Medlar Trees

To keep your medlar trees healthy and productive, remember the following:

  • Water regularly, especially during dry periods
  • Apply a layer of organic mulch to conserve moisture and control weeds
  • Prune in late winter or early spring to remove dead or diseased branches
  • Protect young trees from frost or extreme temperatures
  • Fertilize annually with a balanced fertilizer in early spring

Harvesting and Storing Medlars

Knowing when and how to harvest medlars is crucial:

  1. Wait until the fruits have softened on the tree before picking
  2. Gently twist each fruit off the branch
  3. Place the medlars in a cool, dark place to "blet" or soften for about 2-3 weeks
  4. Once soft, enjoy the deliciously unique flavor of medlars or use them in recipes

Growing medlar trees can be a rewarding endeavor for gardeners. With proper care and attention, you'll soon be enjoying the delightful taste of these ancient fruits!

Medlars are a type of deciduous tree native to parts of Asia and Europe, prized for their sweet and tart fruit that can be used in a variety of dishes. Often considered a “forgotten” fruit, medlars are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants—making them a great addition to any home fruit orchard. Growing medlars is relatively easy, as long as some basic requirements for soil, climate, and care are met.

Choosing The Right Spot

Medlar trees prefer to grow in moist, well-drained soils in sunny or lightly shaded areas. Avoid planting in excessively wet or dry soils, or in areas with full shade. Before planting, ensure that the area is free of any obstacles that will obstruct the growth of the tree.

Preparing Soil And Planting

If possible, prepare the soil before planting by adding organic fertilizer (such as compost or manure) and turning it into the ground to create air pockets. Plant medlars in holes no wider than twice the width of the tree’s root ball; however, make sure that the holes are deep enough so that, when filled, the root ball will be held firmly in place.

Watering And Pruning

Water medlar trees deeply 1-2 times a week (or more if the weather is especially dry). Prune in the late winter and early spring to add shape and structure. Trim off any dead or diseased branches, as well as any suckers (offshoots from the base of the tree).


Fertilize medlar trees twice a year—once in early spring and again in midsummer—using a balanced organic fertilizer. Sprinkle the fertilizer around the tree and rake it into the soil.


Medlars are ready to harvest when they turn brown and begin to soften and collapse. Harvest the fruit off the tree with pruners, taking care not to damage the branch. Don’t leave the fruit on the tree for too long, as it can quickly become overripe and unappetizing.

With proper care, medlar trees can produce delicious fruit for many years. And, thanks to their hardiness, they are an excellent choice for novice fruit growers. Following these simple instructions, you can soon be enjoying the sweet taste of medlar from the comfort of your own garden!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is a Medlar tree?

A: A Medlar tree is a small deciduous fruit tree that belongs to the Rosaceae family. Its scientific name is Mespilus germanica. The Medlar fruit has a unique shape and is often referred to as "the dog's bottom" due to its distinctive appearance.

Q: Where can I grow Medlar trees?

A: Medlar trees prefer a temperate climate and thrive in regions with mild winters and cool summers. They are best grown in full sun or partial shade in well-draining, loamy soil. Medlar trees can be successfully cultivated in USDA hardiness zones 6-9, but they may also grow in zone 5 with proper protection during winter.

Q: When should I plant Medlar trees?

A: The ideal time to plant Medlar trees is in late winter or early spring when the soil is still cool, but not frozen. This allows the tree to establish its root system before the onset of summer heat. However, container-grown Medlar trees can be planted at any time of the year, as long as the soil is workable.

Q: How long does it take for a Medlar tree to bear fruit?

A: Medlar trees are generally slow-growing, and it may take around 5-8 years for the tree to start bearing fruit. Patience is key when growing Medlars, but the wait is definitely worth it as the tree can produce abundant crops once it reaches maturity.

Q: How do I care for Medlar trees?

A: Medlar trees require regular maintenance to ensure healthy growth and fruit production. Some important care tips include:- Watering: Water the tree deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.- Pruning: Prune Medlar trees during late winter or early spring to shape the tree and remove any dead or crossed branches.- Fertilization: Apply a balanced organic fertilizer in early spring and mid-summer to provide the tree with essential nutrients.- Pest and Disease Control: Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids, caterpillars, and Japanese beetles. Regularly inspect the tree for signs of diseases like fire blight or fungal infections, and treat accordingly.

Q: When are Medlar fruits ripe for harvest?

A: Medlar fruits are unique in that they are harvested when they are still firm and unripe. They need to undergo a process called "bletting" to become edible. Bletting involves allowing the fruits to soften and ripen at room temperature for several weeks after harvesting. The fruits should be fully bletted and have a soft, jelly-like texture before consuming.

Q: What can I do with Medlar fruit?

A: Medlar fruit can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. They can be eaten fresh, added to fruit salads, used in jams and jellies, or even used to make Medlar wine. The ripe, bletted fruits have a unique and rich flavor that is often described as a combination of apple, pear, and quince.

Q: Are Medlar trees self-pollinating?

A: No, Medlar trees are not self-pollinating. They require cross-pollination from another Medlar tree or a compatible pollinator variety to produce fruit. It is important to have at least two different cultivars in close proximity to ensure successful pollination.

Q: Can I grow Medlar trees in containers?

A: Yes, Medlar trees can be grown in containers, especially dwarf or patio varieties. Choose a large container with good drainage holes and use a well-draining potting mix. Container-grown Medlars may require more frequent watering and regular feeding compared to those planted in the ground.

Q: Are there any common pests or diseases that affect Medlar trees?

A: Medlar trees are generally resistant to many pests and diseases. However, they may occasionally be affected by pests such as aphids, caterpillars, or diseases like fire blight or fungal infections. Regular inspection and prompt treatment, if necessary, can help mitigate these issues and keep your Medlar tree healthy.

Use these FAQs and their answers as your guide to successfully grow Medlar trees in your garden.

Medlar is a highly versatile plant that not only provides a spectacular display of white, fragrant flowers in the spring, but also produces small fruits that can be used both fresh or dried in a number of interesting culinary recipes. Its hardiness and minimal maintenance requirements make it a great choice for beginner gardeners and experienced green-thumbs alike! Growing Medlar in your garden provides a great opportunity to learn more about horticulture and create something truly rewarding.

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