How to Save a Bradford Pear


The Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana) is a popular landscaping tree that is found across most of the United States. It produces multitudes of foul-smelling white flowers in the spring, dark-green glossy leaves in the summer and red, orange and yellow foliage in the fall. The Bradford Pear grows to 50 feet tall with a rounded canopy that spreads to 30 feet wide. The tree forms many upper branches that grow from a central location on the trunk, creating weak narrow angles, or crotches, leaving the heavy limbs susceptible to damage and breakage by ice and strong winds.

Step 1

Cut off all dead or dying branches, using garden loppers or a saw in early spring or during the winter, when the tree is dormant. Cut back to the main trunk or to live wood. Cut the dead part of the branch off and then another 2 to 3 inches of live wood. Rinse off the saw or lopper blades with a mixture of 1 part bleach to 6 parts water to kill bacteria and prevent it from spreading to a new location.

Step 2

Clear all weeds and grasses from around the roots of the Bradford Pear tree, using a hoe or your hands. Avoid damaging the shallow root system of the tree. Clear the weeds and grasses 6 inches beyond the drip line.

Step 3

Spread an organic granulated fertilizer under the canopy of the tree and 6 inches beyond the drip line. Follow the label instructions for application details, which typically is 2 cups per 1 inch of tree trunk diameter. Do not use a high nitrogen chemical fertilizer around the Bradford Pear. Spray water over the area to wash the fertilizer into the ground.

Step 4

Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch over the cleared area under the Bradford Pear tree. Leave a space of 1 inch between the layer of mulch and the trunk of the tree to prevent and prevent weeds and to help conserve moisture.

Step 5

Soak the root system of the Bradford Pear tree with water every 10 days, if there is no rain. Don't forget to include the area around the drip line where the moisture-gathering roots are located. Do not splash water on the foliage or trunk of the tree when watering.

Things You'll Need

  • Bradford Pear Tree
  • Pruning tool
  • Bleach
  • Bucket
  • Hoe
  • Granulated organic fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • LSU Ag Center: Managing Fire Blight in Bradford Pears
  • Independent Mail: Garden Works: All About the Bradford Pear
  • Missouri Edu: Establishment and Care of Woody Ornamentals
Keywords: bradford pear, bradford care, pear trees

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.