Tropical Style

How to Top a Fruitless Pear Tree

“Off with his head” worked well for the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, but it is not an proper approach for a gardener. While young pear trees (Pyrus spp.) Can be trained to several growth habits where the pear whip is topped after planting, the upper crown of a mature tree should never be lopped away. Nor will topping a pear tree encourage fruit production. Gentler alternatives are available to decrease the size of the overgrown pear.

Pear Tree Training

Most gardeners who plant pear trees aspire to relish pears in their pantry. To ease the anticipated harvest, they prune the pear tree to make sure that its divisions are big enough to keep the weight of their fruit and reduced enough to be within easy reach. Often young pear trees are educated to a central leader; this usually means the gardener allows you to central erect trunk and respective strong, lateral branches to develop while pruning all the rest. If a pear tree is left to its own devices, it can develop 40 feet. Pruning back such a tree isn’t the function of a minute.


When a tree has overgrown its place, topping — lopping off the crown of the tree — is one quick choice that springs to mind. However, topping is a bad choice both for your own tree and the gardener. When you cut big, erect branches between nodes, then the tree wounds can become contaminated or decay. Even if the cut divisions do not die back, each cut stimulates the development of numerous epicormic sprouts that look unsightly and are only weakly attached to the stem. The gardener might need to prune the tree often to maintain the tree clear of bananas.

Reducing Tree Size

Crown-reduction pruning is a much better way to decrease the height of a tree, although it too must be viewed as a last resort step. Each upward-directed division is pruned only above a large lateral branch with a diameter at least one-third the diameter of the cut division. This type of pruning, while still placing the tree in danger, looks more natural, increases the period between prunings and reduces tree anxiety. Crown-reduction pruning ought to be undertaken in early spring while the tree is still dormant. If the height of the pear is much too tall, plan to decrease it gradually over three or more years to a manageable height.

Failure to Fruit

Regularly pruned pear trees are somewhat more inclined to fruit compared to neglected trees, but a pear tree may fail to fruit for any of a number of explanations. Some pear cultivars prosper in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 though 9 however that doesn’t imply that your tree does. If your pear tree belongs in a cooler zone, then it may not have sufficient winter chill hours to fruit. Perhaps most significant, pear trees need cross-fertilization to fruit; this usually means that another pear tree must be planted fairly close by so that its feces can fertilize your pear’s blossoms.

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