Pear Tree Not Leafing Out: Troubleshooting Pear Tree Leaf Problems

pear no leaves
pear no leaves
(Image credit: tracygood1)

If your pear tree has no leaves or small, sparse leaves when it should be covered in green foliage, something isn’t right. Your first move should be to check its cultural care since irrigation, placement, and soil issues can cause pear tree leaf problems. Read on for tips on how to determine the reason your pear tree has small leaves or none at all.

Pear Tree Leaf Problems

When you only see sparse leaves on pear trees, it’s an indication that the tree is stressed or not getting what it needs. Since the tree needs leaves in order to remain healthy, it’s important to figure out the cause of pear tree leaf problems. If you are noticing that your pear tree has small leaves just after leaf break, the situation might right itself quickly. Sometimes, an unusually cool and rainy spring season causes a delay in fruit tree leaf development. Watch and see what happens when warm weather arrives.

Sparse Leaves on Pear Tree

Is your pear tree new to your garden? If so, consider whether transplant adjustment might be causing the pear tree leaf problems. Newly planted pear trees have to work hard to regrow their roots, which were trimmed in the nursery. Often, they spend the first two years after transplant trying to rebuild the root system. A pear tree has small leaves during this time of root building. You can help the tree by providing generous irrigation during the years after the transplant. In fact, inadequate irrigation at any time can cause sparse leaves on pear trees. Too little water makes it difficult for pear trees to grow proper foliage. Be sure the trees get extra water during dry periods. Provide an inch (2.5 cm.) of water a week during normal periods, and 2 inches (5 cm.) during a drought. If you use pesticides and weed killers inappropriately, this can also cause pear tree leaf problems like misshapen or sparse leaves on pear trees. Always follow the label directions. Be sure that your pear tree’s soil drains well. A tree sitting in mud is not likely to thrive. Likewise, trees need sunlight to produce leaves, so consider whether your pear tree is correctly sited. If not, move it to a site with adequate sun and excellent drainage.

Pear Tree Has No Leaves

If your pear tree has no leaves at all, it might be dormant or dead. Check the calendar. A pear tree not leafing out is normal in winter. Pear trees are deciduous and lose their leaves in winter but should start producing leaves again in spring. If spring has come and gone and you notice your pear tree not leafing out, it may have died. In this instance, apply the scratch test. Use a sharp knife and peel back a small slice of bark. It should be green inside. If the area is brown, the tree is dead.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.