How to Care for Pear Trees

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Pear trees, both ornamental and fruiting, are the easiest trees for home gardeners to grow. Hardy in zones 4 through 9, pear trees need a well-drained soil with a pH of 6 to 6 1/2. Northern gardeners should plant pear trees on a northern or eastern-facing slope to avoid early blooms that will be damaged by frost. Southern gardeners should provide pear trees with afternoon shade. If you have limited space, espalier a pear tree on a southern-facing wall, or grow dwarf rootstock in containers.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost Stakes Twine or plant tapePruning shears
  • Choose a spot that receives full sun, and has well-draining soil with a pH of 6 to 6 1/2. To retard blooms that may be damaged by frost, plant pear trees on the north or east side of a building or wall.

  • Plant two trees for optimum fruit production. The nursery where you purchase your pear saplings can recommend varieties that cross-pollinate.

  • Plant your pear trees in early spring while they are still dormant. Space dwarf trees 12 to 15 feet apart and standard trees 20 to 25 feet apart. Dig a hole just large enough to accommodate the root ball. If you are planting grafted trees, make sure the graft point is 1 to 2 inches above the soil.

  • Stake young pear trees for the first two or three years, when they have a shallow root system. Place the stake just outside the planting hole. Secure the pear tree to the stake with twine or flexible plant tape. Allow enough slack so that your tree can sway in the wind, but will not topple in high winds.

  • Fertilize your pear tree in the spring, just before it blossoms. Lightly spread compost at the drip line, or use a commercial, all-purpose fruit tree fertilizer according to package directions.

  • Remove all broken and crossing branches when you first plant your pear trees. Every year, in early spring, evaluate your pear tree and remove any branches that grow inwards or touch and rub another branch.

  • Hire a professional to spray your pear tree in early spring to control pear psylla and other pests. For fire blight, brown rot and pear canker, remove all diseased wood to 3 inches below the effected surface.

  • Water your pear tree well during blossoming and fruit set. Keep the soil moist, not wet.

  • Harvest your pears when they are still hard. Wait until the fruit turns light green and the seeds are brown. Store pears in a cool, dry room. Bring them into a warmer room when you are ready for them to ripen.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your tree is planted in fertile soil, you do not have to fertilize. It is not necessary to prune your pear tree every year. Choose varieties that are resistant to fire blight. Picking up and disposing fallen fruit will help prevent insect damage to the tree. Grow grass under your pear tree, rather than mulching.
  • Over fertilization and pruning can encourage fruit drop, fire blight and psylla. Planting grafted pear trees too deeply will cause sprouts from the rootstock to emerge and compete with the pear tree for light and nutrients.

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