How to Grow Bartlett Pear Trees (Williams Pear Trees)

Common Name Bartlett Pear Tree, Williams Pear Tree
Botanical Name Pyrus communis
Family Rosaceae
Plant Type Tree, fruit
Size 20 ft. tall (standard), 15 ft. tall (dwarf), 20 ft. wide (standard), 10 ft. wide (dwarf)
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Loamy, clay, moist but well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 5-7 (USDA)
Native Area Europe

How to Plant

When to Plant

Bartlett pear trees transplanted from containers or ball and burlap can be planted any time of the year. Bare-root trees should be planted when dormant during the winter.

If planting seeds, sow several seeds into growing pots to produce saplings before transplanting them into the ground. This method is better than direct sowing since you can choose the healthiest saplings.

Selecting a Planting Site

Pear trees require a full-sun location. They need loamy, rich soil that can retain moisture, with the ideal pH range between 6.0 and 6.5. Although, Barletts can also grow well in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.5. Ensure the soil acclimates at least 6 to 12 months before planting.

Spacing, Depth, and Support

Most Bartlett pear varieties require cross-pollination with neighboring trees; they should be planted within 200 feet of other pear trees but at least 20 feet away. Dwarf tree varieties can be 12 to 75 feet apart. They should be far enough away so the roots are not competing for water and soil nutrients.

When sowing seeds, plant the seeds about 1 inch deep. Plant only one seed per pot. Place the pot in a sunny spot and ensure the soil remains moist.

Bartlett Pear Tree Care

Here are the main care requirements for growing a Bartlett pear tree:

  • Maintain moist, well-draining soil and a consistent watering schedule.
  • Keep soil slightly acidic.
  • Plant in a full-sun location.
  • Give slow-release fertilizer in the spring.
  • Protect against drought or salt exposure.


Bartlett pear trees require lots of sunshine for blossom and fruit production. Choose a location where these trees will get six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily.


These fruit trees are sensitive to dry conditions and salt in the soil. They require moist, well-draining, heavy soils. Soil pH levels should be slightly acidic.


Bartlett pear trees need regular watering to remain healthy and produce juicy fruit. Plan to irrigate these trees every week. A drought or dry spell means trouble for the Bartlett pear tree, so be sure to give extra water during periods of no rain.

Temperature and Humidity

Bartlett pears can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 7. They require cold winters and must experience around 800 hours of ‘chill hours.’ More technically known as vernalization, chill hours are tallied when the air temperature is between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit don’t count towards chill hours, and temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit are subtracted from the accumulated chill hours.


Yearly fertilizing will keep the Bartlett pear tree strong and produce plenty of fruit. It is best to give fertilizer in the spring. A well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer formulated explicitly for fruit trees is ideal. Beware of too much fertilizer, which will encourage the tree to grow more foliage than fruit.


Some Bartlett pear trees may be self-fertile, but for more success, provide compatible pear trees nearby for cross-pollination. Compatible pear trees for cross-pollination with Bartletts include D’Anjou, Bosc, and Comice.

Types of Bartlett Pear Trees

Bartlett pears are green when forming and yellow when ripe. A red variety is also famous for its sweet fruit. Red Bartletts ripen to a red color, with a couple of distinct cultivars in the United States:

  • Max Red Bartlett: Grows up to 30 feet; produces extraordinary deep-red fruit in early fall; needs a pollinator; can be susceptible to fireblight
  • Sensation Red Bartlett: Grows up to 20 feet; dark red skin; would pollinate best with a pollinating variety nearby; very sweet fruit
  • Dwarf Bartlett: Grows 10 to 15 feet tall; produces yellow-green fruit with a pink blush color

Bartletts vs. D’Anjou Pears

Bartletts and D’Anjous are similarly colored, both yellowish-greenish in color. However, Bartletts turn yellow when they’re ripe. D’Anjous stay green. The only way to tell when a D’Anjou is ripe is by pressing the neck; it feels more tender.

Bartletts are in season sooner than D’Anjous, which often replace Bartletts on supermarket shelves in winter. Also, a Bartlett is more bell-shaped, while a D’Anjou appears more egg-shaped.

In terms of taste, Bartlett pears are sweeter with a softer texture and are most often used in canning. Anjou pears have a denser texture with a citrus tang, used more in cooking, baking, and poaching.


Pears need to ripen off the tree; otherwise, they go mushy. Pick pears when they are mature. They will feel firm to the touch. Color is not a good indicator.

The technique to tell if it’s ready for picking is turning the pear horizontally, about 90 degrees. If the pear comes easily off the branch, it’s ready. Give it more time if it’s still firmly held onto the branch.

Most pears will ripen within one week of being picked when kept at room temperature. To speed up the process, put the fruit into a paper bag and include a banana.

How to Grow Bartlett Pears in Pots

Dwarf varieties of Bartlett pear trees can be grown in containers. However, you will need a self-fertile variety to bear fruits or have another cross-pollinating species growing nearby. Pollinators will need to visit the trees, or you will have to hand-pollinate. Note that trees grown in containers will not produce as many fruits as in-ground trees.

If you have a sapling, place it in a large growing pot, at least twice as deep and wide as the root ball. The pot should have ample drainage holes. Use a high-quality potting mix. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Do not cover the crown of the tree. Place the tree in a full-sun location, with at least six hours of sun daily.


To keep a pear tree healthy and manageable in size, plan to prune each year during the tree’s dormancy. Start pruning the first year that the tree is planted.

  • Choose a main leading trunk or branch and trim all other branches so that they are 5 to 8 inches apart. Each branch should spiral around the trunk, with no branch directly above the other.
  • Remove any branches that grow below 18 inches from the ground. Because young branches are weak, they may need to be tied to more mature branches until they are strong.
  • Each subsequent year, continue to maintain this spiral of branches.
  • Trim away any lateral growth pointing inwards, as this will cause airflow problems.
  • Trim away the tops of any main growth branches that are not the selected main branch. These can be identified where the branch has forked, creating lateral growth, and the main branch continues upward without any more lateral growth. Trim this branch right above the last lateral growth.

This pruning maintenance will encourage the tree branches to grow strong while ensuring proper airflow and light penetration through the branches.


If you are pruning to maximize fruit production, you should prune to prioritize long, straight lateral branches where fruit is most likely to grow.

Propagating Bartlett Pear Trees

Propagating Bartlett pear trees can be done through cuttings. This method will work with softwood cuttings and semi-hardwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings are taken in the spring or early summer. These are easier to root than semi-hardwood cuttings but tend to dry out more readily.

Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken in late summer to early fall when new growth begins to harden. These do not root as quickly as softwood cuttings but do not dry out as easily. Here’s how to propagate via cuttings:

  1. You will need a sharp pair of garden snips, a small pot, moist but well-draining soil, rooting hormone, a plastic bag, and a rubber band.
  2. Choose a cutting that is around six to eight inches long. Trim below a node at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Remove any leaves or buds along the bottom half of the cutting.
  4. Scrape away the bark on the bottom inch or two of the cutting, then dip the exposed end into the rooting hormone.
  5. Plant the cutting into moist, well-draining soil or a soilless medium.
  6. Place the plastic bag over the tree, securing it to the pot with the rubber band.
  7. Place the cutting in indirect sunlight and keep it warm.
  8. Mist the soil and cut daily. Air out the plastic bag once in a while to prevent the development of mildew.
  9. Roots may take a few weeks to a few months to develop.
  10. Once strong roots and new growth appear, repot the new tree into a larger pot. Remove any flower buds that form.
  11. The following year, harden off the tree until it is strong enough to be planted in the garden.

How to Grow Bartlett Pear Trees From Seed

Starting Bartlett pear trees from seed is not ideal, as the resulting tree may not have the same characteristics as the parent tree. However, it is still a viable option with great rewards. If you would like to grow a pear tree from seed, follow these instructions:

  1. Take dry pear seeds and wrap them in a damp paper towel. Place these in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for two to three months. It is best to use several seeds, as not all of them will germinate.
  2. After a few months, remove the seeds from the refrigerator and plant them in small pots with well-draining, moist soil. Each seed should be planted in its own pot. Lightly cover the seeds about an inch deep.
  3. Place the pots in a sunny location and keep the soil moist. To help maintain humidity, a plastic dome or plastic bag can cover the pot.
  4. Germination should occur in a few months. If a dome is used, remove it once growth appears. The following year, the new trees can be planted in the garden.


Bartlett pear trees require cold temperatures to thrive and produce fruit each year. Therefore, very little attention is needed for these trees to survive a cold winter. Add a layer of mulch around the tree’s base to help insulate the roots.

Common Pests & Diseases

Bartlett pears are generally problem-free. However, they may contend with fire blight, a common pear bacterial disease that begins to appear in warm, humid weather in the spring after rainfall. Fungi can also cause leaf spots, attacking leaves, fruit, and twigs of pear. Remove and burn infected parts.

Pear decline is a disease caused by tiny, sap-sucking insects called psylla. Symptoms include rolled leaves, leaf drop, poor fruiting, and general failure to thrive.

How to Get Bartlett Pear Trees to Bloom

Bloom Months

Bartlett pears produce flowers in March, April, or May, depending on the region and climate patterns.

How Long Do Bartlett Pear Trees Bloom?

The trees usually bloom for two weeks, give or take a few days, depending on temperatures, water conditions, and other environmental factors. The blooms give way to leaf production.

What do Bartlett Pear Tree Flowers Look and Smell Like?

The tree will bloom with three- to four-inch clusters of flowers, each blossom with red anthers and five white petals. The flowers produce a mild, sweet fragrance.

How to Encourage More Blooms

To encourage the Bartlett pear to bloom, be sure the tree gets plenty of sunshine and water. Maintain a regular pruning schedule to ensure sunlight shines through the tree’s canopy. In addition, maintain a regular watering schedule during the growing season.

Common Problems With Bartlett Pear Trees

Bartlett pear trees are generally hardy and do not contend with many problems. Still, a few issues may be encountered when growing these pear trees, such as irregular pigmentation in leaves or a lack of blooms.

Pale Green or Yellow Leaves

Throughout the summer, Bartlett pear trees should have rich green foliage. If the leaves appear pale or yellowish, this indicates inadequate nutrients. It is best to give additional fertilizer the following spring rather than add it later in the year. Add more slow-release fertilizer the next spring.

No Blooms

Sometimes, Bartlett pear trees may not bloom. This may occur for a variety of reasons. These include insufficient sunlight and water, too much fertilizer, and improper pruning.

Ensure your tree receives six to eight hours of sunlight daily. Remove any nearby branches that may be shading the tree. Water weekly to keep the tree quenched. Fertilize in the spring.

If the tree produces large amounts of foliage and branch growth with little to no blooms, cut back on fertilizer the following year. Pruning is essential, but do not prune the tree too severely. This can hinder bloom production.

Mealy Pears

When fruits appear, wait until the fruit is mature but still unripe to pick. If the fruits are left on the tree, they may become too soft and have a mealy texture.


    • A Bartlett pear tree usually yields its first crop within 3 to 10 years. Bartlett pear trees have been known to continue producing fruit for over 100 years.

    • Bartlett pear trees come in self-pollinating and cross-pollinating varieties. Plant a Bartlett near a compatible pear tree, such as Kieffer, Moonglow, or Stark pear-tree varieties, for pollination if you have a cross-pollinating type.

    • Bartlett pear trees are considered a fast-growing species of fruit tree. They can grow more than two feet per year until reaching the tree’s mature height of 15 to 30 feet.

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