How to Plant a Pear Tree in 8 Steps
When to Plant Pear Trees
Hardiness Zones 7 and Below
- For bare root trees in hardiness zones 7 and below, plant when the tree is dormant and when the ground is thawed, hence early spring. If you plant in the fall, you risk having a very harsh winter damage and kill the trees before their roots establish themselves in the soil. In the summer the low moisture and high heat may cause stress and damage. Therefore you can plant once the ground thaws and there is no rain or snow. Depending on your region, this can be anytime between February to May.
- If you are planting in a container and not bare root, you are more flexible since you’ll be planting with the soil that the roots have established themselves in. However even with a container, be careful during the winters since the ground can’t be frozen and it shouldn’t be too wet.
Hardiness Zones 8 and Above
- However for planting in zones 8 and above which don’t have cold winters, you can plant bare root trees in the winter and fall since the tree is dormant and doesn’t risk damage from the harsh winters. Additionally, it is easier to plant containerised trees in the winter for these zones.
How to Plant a Pear Tree: Materials Needed
- Another helper to hold the tree vertically when you plant (will need two sets of hands)
- A bucket/bin to soak the tree roots in water if the tree is bare root.
- A shovel or spade for digging
- For dwarf and semi-dwarf trees, a stake/post to place next to the tree
- Something to bang the post in (a hammer or rock will do)
- Tree ties to connect the stake to the tree
- Tree guards for protecting against animal damage
- 1-2 Gallons of Water
1. Prepare Tree
- When the pear tree arrives, it will come either in a container or bare root (without the soil it was in). Take it out of the box and place your tree in a cool (not freezing) place out of the sun, e.g. your garage.
- If the tree is bare root and has been in transport for more than 4 days, be sure to soak immediately in water for 6-24 hours and plant immediately after.
- If the tree is bare root and you need to wait for more that a week to plant, be sure to keep the roots wet by spraying with water. Keep the roots in the plastic wrap so that they stay moist and healthy. You can keep the trees in a cool shaded basement or garage. Then soak in water for 6-24 hours and plant afterwards.
- If the tree is in a container, water it and make sure the tree roots don’t dry out.
2. Prepare Soil
You should prepare the planting area before planting the tree.
- Pear trees grow best in well-drained sandy loam soil that has a pH between 6.0 – 6.5 (although they can also tolerate soils with a pH of 5.0-7.5). However they can also survive in other soils as long as they are well-draining.
- Before planting, you can test the soil for acidity and drainage (you can use inexpensive DIY methods).
- Although optional, feel free to add organic matter such as compost to your soil to increase nutrients. Or add lime to balance the acidity if needed. However when planting do not add fertilizer directly to the soil the tree’s roots are in since this will damage the roots.
- Till the soil so that the nutrients become integrated into the soil and the soil becomes less compact so that the roots grow well.
- For a containerised tree, dig a hole that is about two times the width of the container it came in. The depth of the hole should be about the same as the depth of the container.
- In the case of bare root trees, dig a hole that is two times the width of the root ball or the circumference of the roots. The depth should be the same depth it was planted in before which you can tell by the soil line on the trunk.
- If it is in a container, gently take out the tree from the container and place in the middle of the hole.
- If bare root, first put some soil in a mound in the hole so that when you place the tree down, the roots slope down and fan out. Trim the roots as needed so that they do not twist. This will enable the tree to spread its roots further.
- If you are planting from a container, simply backfill the soil to ground level.
- If bare root, holding the tree vertically, place the nutrient rich topsoil you dug out back near the roots. Once half the soil is placed around the tree, carefully press the soil down with your feet to destroy air pockets. DO NOT put fertilizer or compost into the hole where the roots are as this will damage the tree. Put the rest of the soil on top and press down repeatedly with your foot.
- If the pear tree is on a slope or in a location with a water shortage, then make a berm around the tree. Create a 2’ rim of soil around the tree above ground level to keep the water close.
- Cover the top of the soil near the tree with mulch so that the moisture stays in the soil. Moreover weeds are less likely to grow. However, the mulch should not touch the bark of the tree but should be about 2′ away from it.
6. Water the Pear Tree
- Immediately after planting, water the tree with about 1-2 gallons of water. If the soil goes down, add more soil.
- For the first year, water about one to two times a week with 1-2 gallons of water. After the tree is established, you can water yourself only when the tree becomes stressed and experiences drought.
- In the winter, make sure that the tree is also watered enough to prevent any damage from desiccation. This is damage when the amount of moisture lost by the leaves) exceeds the amount of water taken in by the roots.
- Immediately after planting the tree, place a tree guard around the trunk. This protects the tree from rabbits and rodents who will eat the bark and kill your tree. The tree guards should let air flow in. Mouse guards which rap around the bark are the best protectors. However we don’t recommended using them in the summer since insects can create habitats between the mouse guard and the bark.
- Cover the top of the soil near the tree with mulch so that the moisture stays in the soil. Moreover weeds are less likely to grow. The mulch should not touch the bark of the tree.
8. Prune Pear Tree
- Initial pruning is an important step in the planting process. Pruning during planting will help train the tree from the beginning into the shape that is best for it to bear fruit and will decrease the chance of diseases.
- Pear trees are best grown in a pyramidal shape with a central leader or in a modified central leader. The following directions are for the pyramidal shape.
- Remove the lower branches that are growing less than 2 feet above the ground.
- Then, prune back the central leader to 18 inches above the highest scaffold branch.
- Cut scaffold branches that aren’t 45-60 degrees.
- Finally, prune the scaffold branches so that they are 12″ long. Read more about how to prune a fruit trees.
Most Important Step: Build a Community!
- Now that you know how to plant pear trees, this last step is the most important. If it’s your first time planting, having fun and learn by inviting friends or neighbors to help you. Trees can help you build a community and you will all learn together.
- So invite your friends or family. I promise you it will be something you all will remember together.
You can read more in our growing guide about how to prune and take care of the tree. This will help your young tree survive, stay stimulated, and bear healthy fruit. If you would like to discover these and our fruit trees, explore our fruit tree catalog or shop page.