When is a good time to bend limbs?

I just bent some limbs down on my pear trees with bricks and string. Is there any issue with doing this as fall approaches? Is there a better time to bend limbs? Anyone have a favorite method?


I’m still learning this, but to me you should do it as soon as possible, consistent with allowing the tree to achieve its desired size.

Some orchards start bending as soon as they can, encouraging fruiting on very closely spaced trees which are never allowed to get very large.

Alan points out that allowing new grafts to grow vertically gives them a chance to get good size, but then pulling over towards the horizontal will encourage less vegetative growth and more fruiting.

Ultimately it is all about balancing one against the other. Obviously, you need enough vegetative growth to provide for the needs of the tree and the fruit, and you need enough fruit to justify the tree.

That’s a little more than I really know, so I’ll stop talking.


I think the bending will be more effective when the tree is growing. The limb “sets” in it’s new orientation as it grows new wood. Nothing wrong with doing it now but it might have to stay in the new position well into next summer before it stays in place. Take the stings off next spring and the limbs will want to go back to where they are now.


I’ve wondered the same thing. I did a lot of tying down in spring with light weight sisel string and most of those have broken. After a summer of growth I could stand to tie down several more limbs. I was unsure if I should tie over the winter

I believe the wood gets brittle in the winter

I went to a demo of spindle training late one winter and the grower went to bend a branch down to the wire, and it snapped off - embarrassing


I have snapped a few branches but with practice most breaks can be eliminated.

I bend limbs at most any time of the year but an actively growing limb will hold the new direction best.

1 Like

I’m thinking I will leave the limbs bent until at least the end of October and assess how the limbs are responding. Maybe I’ll start back up in the spring when they start to grow again. I appreciate all the input!

I’ve found that doing it in the spring, the limbs are a lot more bendable than later in the season. I do it anytime from spring to fall whenever I have time or string ready in my hand.

I’ve left them over the winter until the sisel string fell apart by itself. The only time I have had a problem was when I bent a limb too much with string and it was caught in a very strong wind (like over 40 mph). That limb broke. Bummer. I’ve bent hundreds of limbs with string and rocks on almost all of my trees.

Oops- just tried to say something that had already been said!

1 Like

You can bend at ANY time. But in all cases you are obviously limited by the flexibility of the limb being bent.

New growth in the spring/summer is much more cooperative.

A thicker heavier limb might need to be bent …in stages.

I have tied water bottles to branches with the string just long enough to get the max bend I could and with the bottle barely resting on the ground. This allowed some flex and support. I left it on all winter and had no losses.



I think I remember. A wise person once said. Pear limbs bend until they don’t. Thanks Mark I liked the way you made a great point.


What I have found with my trees is that when you put weight in them, that just barely bends them, over time it bends them more. The limb slowly gives way to the weight. I also have found that even if the limb springs back to the original position, it resumes the bent position pretty much as soon as it gets some weight of some pears growing on it. I have had the problem with limbs being a bit too flexible, especially with my Southern Bartlett and the limbs drooping all the way down to the ground with the weight of pears without really that many pears. My sense is bending is important in a young tree, but less is more because the place where the limbs were bent will be flexible when the first pears come, and they will do the rest themselves.


Agreed. Apply less weight than needed to achieve the desired bend. Typically a weighted limb will bend more over the next few days. Apply just the right amount and the limb will be bent below the desired position later. I also see little need in bending an already fruiting limb – unless it is to improve the tree’s structure, improve spacing of limbs, get more light to the fruit, etc.

I don’t think this is a very good method for bending branches- there just isn’t adequate control to get the correct angle right from the connection to the trunk out- say 70 degrees without a bow- and you can’t know what will happen over time as far as accidentally breaking branches.

These spreaders come in 3 different sizes (at least from this source).PEACH RIDGE Spreaders — PEACH RIDGE

This is my first option- the second is to use stakes and string or stakes alone. I sometimes use weights in very large trees when it is the only way but otherwise it is a poor method, IMO.

I don’t know if a limb has to be growing actively to set in a new position because I never do it in fall or winter- or if I do it in late winter I don’t remove the spreader until after first growth. I have good luck spreading branches through spring and summer.


I’ve tried using those spreaders, and I don’t like them

They damage the branch, and they invariably fall off - I’ve never managed to get any branch spread out of them, where the weight or tie methods clearly work

1 Like

Then you haven’t figured out how to use them. You can always use some electric tape to hold branches and spreaders in place (which I only occasionally need to do) and you can also push the points into the wood to help set them. The only logical reason I can otherwise think they wouldn’t work for you is if you get much stronger winds then I do- but tape would solve that problem as well.

I probably set at least 500 limbs a year with them- sometimes they fall out and I put them back, but usually they only fall out after doing their job. Keep trying- believe me, when you know how to use them they give you much better control and are quicker to use than weights.


I find the weights work pretty good if you spread the branches less than you ultimately want them. Seriously, the fruit will do the rest. You just getting things limbered up a bit so the pears can do their job without breaking the tree. An important additional function of the weight is that the tree reinforces the underside of the branch where the bend is with suberin. The limb becomes both stronger and more flexible. Mind you I’m not growing pears for commercial use. They are in my yard. My main reason for spreading the pears is to strengthen the structure of the tree so that it does not break later. If one is growing pears for a commercial use, they have to be concerned about the appearance of the individual pears on a level that does not quite apply for me. For example I’m not as inclined to prune out the water sprouts that come up within the tree, because a thicker tree is a prettier one. But I do want to get some weight on those branches sooner rather than later so that they their structure is as strong as possible and that they are flexible enough to give with fruit rather than break. God bless.

No, I never used tape

I use duck tape and tape a chunk of concrete block to the branch as my weight. I’m sure there are better ways, but this works. I like the duck tape because it does not dig into the branch. But it looses its stickiness in cold weather, so it does not work well to use duck tape to attach concrete to a tree in fall and keep it there through a cold winter. Here its better to do it right before the tree breaks dormancy. In spring you just have to watch to make sure the duck tape does not constrict the tree on account of the tree growth. The main advantage to this method is that I have plenty of chunks of concrete laying about, and I always keep duck tape around for other things, so I don’t have to buy expensive products for a pear tree that I wont use for anything else. I find that concrete works better than bricks or rocks because both bricks and rocks are too heavy unless I’m spreading a limb that’s gotten too big. Another reason I like duck tape is because I wrap the duck tape around the piece of concrete into a cocoon of sorts. That keeps the rough surface of the concrete from hitting scraping and injuring the bark.

If I were to put spreaders in the tree to pry the limbs apart I would just pick up some free paint stirs at lows, notch them with a pair of clippers on each end and duct tape each end to the two branches that I’m spreading. Why go buy special products when make shift things will work just fine for less money? I get it if you run a large commercial orchard. But for a backyard project, going out and buying spreaders sounds like an unnecessary expense to me. God bless.