Caring for Pear Tree during winter


Good afternoon,
We just bought Pear Trees (Bartlett and Anjou). They will grow strictly in planters. I would like to learn more about the winter care of these fruit trees when they are stored in an unheated garage during the winter season. How would I prepare it before bringing it inside to make sure it survives the winter and what are the maintenance involved once it is in the garage during the winter season. Thank You.


These are very large trees to grow in planters, even if you have purchased dwarf varieties!

A standard Bartlett will grow to 20 ft. tall (standard), 15 ft. tall (dwarf), 20 ft. wide (standard), 10 ft. wide (dwarf).

The Anjou will grow to 18-20 ft. tall (standard)  and 13 ft. wide, 15 ft. tall (semi-dwarf) and 11 ft. wide,  10 ft. tall and 7 ft. wide (dwarf).

As such, they will require a significant amount of space for the root ball, in deep, fertile, moist, well-drained soils. In other words, a very large planter, which, filled, will be very heavy. Not something that you can easily move.

I explain this because if you have purchased small whips (very young trees, without branches, and with a main stem only 1/2 to 3/4 inches in diameter), certainly, you can start them off in smaller planters, but they will have to graduate to large ones. Start small with a 5- or 7-gallon container. As the tree grows within its container, it will eventually become root-bound and must be moved into a larger container.  It will take several years for the tree to grow enough to bloom and produce fruit.

That is why experts recommend small fruits (berry plants) and very dwarf apple, peach and plum trees for containers. Here’s a fact sheet from the University of Massachusetts.

And one specifically on pears from the University of Minnesota. That source has a lot of information on managing pear trees.

Therefore, I would recommend that you plan to move those pear trees into the garden or lawn eventually since I expect that they really will not be manageable in containers for more than a few years.

However, anecdotally in Ontario, and definitely in the UK, gardeners are growing fruit trees in containers, using specific varieties on dwarf rootstock and using both top and root pruning to manage the size. The Royal Horticultural Society has information. Container Growing Trees Growing Fruit in Containers  and Fruit Trees in Containers.

Here is some advice on growing fruit we provided to another inquirer. Planting Fruit Trees

As for overwintering, here is some advice we provided previously. Overwintering shrubs and perennials in pots

Best of luck with your pear trees!