Pear Rootstock Sizing for Espalier

I’m just laying out framework for 7 espalier trees and wondered if anyone had experience with espaliering pear root stocks and how far apart you plant them. I will be planting both OHxF333 and OHxF87. I have some apples going in Bud 9, 7.5’ apart, but i fear that might be too close for the larger pear root stocks. I don’t want to be battling the trees each year to keep them to size.

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I’m sorry, I don’t have any information about spacing for you, but are you grafting these trees yourself? If so, where did you get the OHxF333 rootstock?

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Hi FarmGirl,

Here are two places that I’ve gotten OHxF 333 rootstock from:

A word of caution: This may just be me, but I have found the performance of the OHxF 333
to be somewhat inconsistent. On about a 50/50 basis, it seems to be slow to establish/struggle in the first year. As others on the forum have said, I have seen much better results with grafting to OHxF 333 stock that has had a chance to establish than I did attempting to bench graft. Part of this is probably on me - and just to be clear, I don’t think there was a problem with the stock provided by either of the suppliers linked above - but that was my experience.

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Raintree has it in stock as well:

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I have no experience with pears, but I have espaliered apples and I’m working on getting going on a pear espalier like you are. I had the same question about rootstock. It seemed to me that a fair number of problems have been reported for OHxF 333.

The other thing I learned is that I maybe undershot in vigor for my apples on all but one tree, which is annoyingly still trying to grow way too much wood and has not settled down to fruiting. But in all my other ones, I feel like it would have been good to have a little more vigor than I’ve got; most of them still have not grown out on their trellis, and it takes a long time to regrow if I have to cut off a limb for fireblight, etc.

So given that I had some doubts about 333 and felt like a little too much vigor was maybe better than not enough, I was shooting for OHxF 87. A couple years back I planted a Harrow Sweet on 87 from Cummins and a Korean Giant on 87 from Raintree. The KG died in it’s first season and then I was away from the house the next year. Planning on replacing it this coming season. The HS has not grown all that much yet which is good since I have not yet gotten round to building the espalier trellis!

Anyway, good luck on your project. I’ll be sure to report on mine if it ever gets anywhere.


I have 5 Euro pears on OHxF 87 and two on 97. The 97 grow very well.

87 not that much on my rather poor soil. Also, varieties play a role in their vigor. Aurora outgrows every other varieties.

I’ve read a few of your answers on different espalier posts, so thanks for responding here too! Do you know how wide you are going to make your pear trellis? All my apples are meduim vigor. I have Arkansas Black, Liberty and Cripps Pink. I choose varieties that do well here as a priority as we are limited.

Thanks for the advise. I have actually decided to go with OHxF 87 instead. Do you have any experience with this rootstock?

I just posted that I was going to go with the 87, but it is really between the 87 and the 97. The main reason that I didn’t really want to go with the 97 was because of height. How tall does the 97 get (without maintaining a smaller size)?

I don’t, no, but I would think it should work fine for you.

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My pear trees on OHxF are supposed to be a standard pear size but due to my pruning of them, they are about 10- 12’ tall. I won’t let them grow taller than that.


The trees that I am getting my scion wood from are trees on standard root stock that I prune to size. The reason that I don’t want to go with standard stock for the trees that I plan on planting is because of the amount of trees that I’m planning on. I don’t want to have to prune them all to size each year.

OHxF 87 is supposed to be 2/3 the size of a standard tree. Mine have not grown much on a relatively poor soil.

How tall are your pears on ohxf97? Do they fruit well even if you keep them contained? I’m deciding whether I made an error choosing an ohxf97 dewdrop for my espalier - I just really wanted the cultivar and that was the only rootstock!

It can be 20 ft tall if you don’t prune. I have kept mine to about 10-11 ft tall. I don’t want tall trees. Generally speaking, the closer to a standard sized a tree is (97 is closer to it), the longer it takes to fruit.

It seems precocity depends on varieties of pears you grafts on the rootstock. I have two trees on 97. Harrow Sweet and Blake’s Pride. HS started fruiting in year 2 after planting. BP too twice as long to fruit.

I have 5 pears on OHxF 87. All 5 original varieties have not flowered after 4 years.

Ok that’s great to hear the experience that even if kept pruned, it is still settling down to fruit. I have a dewdrop coming from the harrow line. Maybe it will behave similarly. I’m not afraid to prune but frankly the fruitless espaliers on this forum have scared me to death so I’m deciding whether to improvise on my plan…
I just realized - Worst case I graft it to my other rootstocks in a few years and test that out!

@clarkinks has a thread about what varieties of pears are precocious. You could look that up. Not all Harrow series are precocious. In my yard, Harvest Queen takes a long time to fruit. After 4 years, it still has not flowered.

Someone here grows Dew Drop but I can’t remember who? @northwoodswis4 ?

Will do. Thanks

How are your pear espaliers doing?

I’m considering OHFx97 for longer step overs or 2 tier cordon espalier, bordering my yard garden.

It will be in a raised bed/mound but the soil beneath is gray chalky clay. I’m thinking the soil will have a dwarfing effect as well as the rootstock. Not sure on spacing but will plan on single cordon and add more if too vigorous.

I’m in Northern Illinois and plan on starting this spring, a two pear tree espalier cordon with Ohx87 spaced ten feet apart.