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Bartlett Pear Tree Care

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated September 21, 2017

A Bartlett pear tree is not only an attractive specimen of tree, but it also provides a bountiful harvest of delicious pears in the autumn. Make sure you select a suitable planting location for your Bartlett pear tree and space multiple Bartlett pear trees properly to ensure healthy trees. You must also provide adequate fertilization and pruning throughout the growing season to keep Bartlett pear trees vibrantly healthy.

Space dwarf pear trees 12 to 15 feet apart and space standard pear trees 20 to 25 feet apart.

Encourage the pear tree to form a central leader (one main trunk) or a modified leader (a split trunk). Form a central leader by cutting off the top branch from the tree to approximately three feet above the soil level, just as the first buds begin to develop after planting. As this top branch begins to grow again, it will grow up vertically and it will send off side branches. Either remove all side branches during the first growing season and only allow the central branch to continue growing (central leader) or select one other branch to allow to grow and remove all other new branches (modified leader). If you are encouraging a modified leader, choose two branches that are not directly across from each other.

Continue developing the central or modified leader during the second and subsequent growing seasons. Allow four evenly-spaced lateral branches to grow from the central or modified leaders. Remove any other lateral branches that grow to reduce crowding in the tree canopy and encourage adequate sunlight and ventilation.

Use “spreaders” to train the branches of a pear tree to grow more horizontally than vertically. Insert wooden clothespins or slats horizontally between vertical branches in the early summer to push the branches apart and encourage the branches to grow horizontally.

Weed the soil beneath the Bartlett pear trees carefully to prevent weeds from competing with the trees for nutrients. Pull weeds by hand and discard them.

Provide water for the pear trees during periods of dry weather. Water deeply once or twice per week, to promote strong root development.

Fertilize pear trees each spring, beginning the second year after planting. Time the fertilization for two weeks prior to the trees blooming. Determine the number of years since planting the pear tree and then multiply this number by 1/8 lb. This is the amount of ammonium nitrate you should apply to each pear tree.

Monitor the pear tree throughout the growing season to assess the amount of fertilizer you used. If the new growth of the pear tree is more than 1 foot, use slightly less fertilizer the following spring. If the foliage of the pear tree turns a light green by the middle of the summer, use slightly more fertilizer the following spring.

Watch as the fruit begins to develop and remove fruit that forms on thin branches because the fruit will eventually cause the branches to break.

Prune a Bartlett pear tree while it is dormant in the late fall or early spring. Do not prune growth from the top of the tree (heading cuts) because the tree will respond by growing new stems that will not produce fruit. Remove diseased branches, damaged branches and branches that are crowding each other and rubbing.


Things You Will Need

  • Lopper pruner
  • Wooden clothespins or slats
  • Ammonium nitrate fertilizer
  • Pruning saw


  • Consider aiding in the pollination process if your pear trees do not set fruit. Some pear growers place an active beehive close by a pear tree to ensure the bees find the pear blossoms and pollinate them.

About the Author


Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.