An ornamental pear tree with an average lifespan of 15 years, the flowering Bradford pear or Bradford pear provides showy white blossoms each spring. The tree's short lifespan is largely due to its poor growth and branching system. While gardeners can maintain a healthy Bradford tree with careful pruning and attention to potential diseases, this pear is not a long-term landscape tree.
Prune your ornamental Bradford pear tree late in winter, while the tree is dormant and has not developed leaves. Prepare a 1 to 10 solution of bleach to water in a bucket. Trim away any dead wood, which will be brittle to the touch. Also cut off dead or damaged growth that appears physically marred or wounded. In between each cut, dip the lopping shears into the bleach solution to sanitize them.
Open up the tree canopy by cutting off branches in heavy areas of the tree. Cut them off at the base or trim them back to a Y-intersection. Remove any branches that rub up against other wood. By opening up the canopy, you're allowing better air circulation and light, which can help keep the Bradford pear healthy.
Water your Bradford pear tree using 1 to 2 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter two times a week. During periods of rain you can decrease or discontinue watering.
Watch for signs of fire blight or leaf spot, the major diseases that can affect the Bradford pear. If leaves begin turning brown and shriveling, followed by dark discoloration of twigs, your tree is infected with fire blight. Leaves that develop dappled brown spotting have leaf spot. Both diseases can be treated with fungicide.