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I planted an Aristocrat Pear tree about a month ago. It was droopy when I got it but thought it was due to being in the pot for too long and not getting enough water. I figured it would get better after I planted it.

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Unfortunately it's gotten worse. I gave it plenty of water and am now wondering if that might be the problem.

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I had read something about overwatering and the ground getting over compacted but can't seem to find it now. I tried loosening up some soil around it and only waterring to the roots but that hasn't helped.

What can I do to save my tree?

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  • Just a comment on overwatering: yes, interesting I've heard from a neighbor the same thing: that overwatering can cause soil compaction, and, just by that fact, be bad for a tree. Sounds a bit strange admittedly.
    – Alex Alex
    May 19 at 8:29
  • I keep whatever I said in my answer, but can you please check if you have some symptoms of a decease on branches. Any bark peeling, sap, white or dark dots, etc? In other words, do branches and trunk look completely healthy to you or not?
    – Alex Alex
    May 19 at 10:05
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Overwatering is not likely the issue - pear trees are known for their ability to survive in wetter areas than say apples, peaches or cherries. The drought situation is another matter entirely.

If the tree came from a reputable source and you paid a fair price for it then share your experience with the supplier. They may be able to assist under a warranty programme since it was so recently obtained. If you get a replacement then no further action needed.

Otherwise, from the pictures it looks like it might have been a container grown tree which was at one time doing very well but then as you surmised went through a dry spell. If the root ball came out of the pot in one piece and did not fall apart when planted then check the lower trunk for signs of damage such as an embedded tie wire. Borers are not likely an issue as they might be in other fruit trees. If all looks good it is possible the top has too much foliage to be supported by the existing root. In this case cut back the top by one third to a half to give the root chance to catch up again.

What can happen is that nurseries buy in bare root trees and put them in pots and sell them on quickly as much higher priced container trees but with clearly compromised root systems. Things get busy, the trees are given a lower priority and a few days of hot weather desiccate the trees with the result that suddenly some trees are worth nothing. Once beyond a certain stage of dryness (which happened before you became owner) it may not be possible to save the tree even with drastic pruning.

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It appears the tree is about to lose all its leaves.

On the other hand, I don't see any dehydration signs in the trunk and branches (branch and trunk bark would have became gnarled by now if that was the case).

This may be just its reaction to the shock (handling in the nursery, replanting, possible inadvertent root damage, environment change). In other words, it is a natural thing. It is not uncommon for the deciduous plants to lose all their foliage under some shock, this is most of the time actually a deliberate act of defense for them.

My advice is: Water the tree with 5l of water twice a week. But, right to the area of the roots - not left or right. Be ready to wait more than a month, and possibly more than two months for the first signs of recovery. Only water, no fertilizer, and no more water than I mentioned.

So, it is simple, but bad for your nerves during that period. I advise you to just mechanically follow the procedure and not get too emotionally involved. :) I wish you success.

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