The Bradford flowering pear is an ornamental tree that does not produce fruit. The tree lives in USDA growing zones 4 through 8 and reaches a height up to 50 feet. Attractive white flowers bloom in the spring season with the green foliage turning red in the fall. Bradford flowering pear trees are commonly planted in areas where shade is desired as they grow tall and wide.
Select a planting location for the Bradford flowering pear tree that has partial shade to full sunlight conditions. The tree will grow in most soil types as long as it is well draining. Test the soil pH as the tree prefers an acidic soil with a pH of 3.7 to 7.0. Mix ground rock sulfur into the soil to lower the pH and let it rest for two weeks prior to planting the tree.
How to Plant
Dig a planting hole for the Bradford flowering pear that is twice the width and the same depth as the root ball. Amend clay or sandy soil by mixing equal quantities of peat moss into the removed soil. Set the tree in the planting hole and fill it half way with amended soil. Fill the remaining area of the hole with water and allow it to absorb into the root ball and surrounding soil. Fill the hole with amended soil to the top of the root ball and gently pack in place. Water the tree well to compact the soil and eliminate air pockets around the roots. Apply a high phosphorus fertilizer after planting to stimulate root growth.
Care and Maintenance
Water the Bradford flowering pear tree on a weekly basis to keep the tree moist. Additional water applications may be required during drought periods or in areas where the soil is sandy. Apply a balanced fertilizer to the soil around the tree each spring. Do not apply a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen as this will inhibit flower production. Place a two- to three-inch layer of mulch around the tree leaving a six-inch gap between the start of the mulch and trunk of the tree. Prune the tree in early spring or late winter to remove branches and shape the crown of the tree. Branches that form narrow angles at the point they meet the trunk should be removed to strengthen the tree structure. Prune to remove dead and diseased branches as needed any time of the year.
Propagate the Bradford flowering pear by taking softwood stem cuttings in late spring. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone to stimulate root formation. Stick the cutting into a rooting tray filled with sterile rooting medium. Mist the cuttings and medium with water and place a plastic bag over the tray to hold in humidity. Set the tray in a warm location with indirect light until the roots are one inch in length. Transplant the cuttings to individual growing containers and continue to grow in a protected environment for the first year.
Monitor the tree for insect infestations from aphids and borers. Aphid insects are visible on the leaves and excrete a sticky residue called honeydew but will not cause major damage. Spray the tree with water once a day over a period of one week to remove aphids. Borers damage tree branches by burrowing under the bark and digging deep grooves into the wood. Spray the tree with an insecticide to treat a borer problem. Prevent insect infestations by keep the tree healthy with adequate water and fertilizer applications.