How to Prune Flowering Pear Trees

Overview

A flowering pear also goes by the names Callery pear, Bradford pear or Pyrus calleryana. It can grow to a height of more than 40 feet. The deciduous tree blooms in mid-spring with white flowers and thrives in full sun. Unfortunately, branches grow at a narrow angle, so the tree begins to push itself apart and can self-destruct in a wind or ice storm. Pruning the flowering pear will maintain tree form and structure.

Step 1

Prune flowering pear trees as late in the winter as possible to avoid winter injury. Summer pruning will dramatically cut the energy portion of the tree and result in less growth. You can prune as soon as buds start to appear, but it's better to wait until growth is a few inches long.

Step 2

Identify the node, which is where one twig or branch meets another. Each spring, growth will start with buds and twigs grow until there is a new node. Use a hand pruner if you're dealing with thin, small branches. Lopping shears or small pruning saws can be used for slightly larger branches. If you're pruning branches that are about 6 inches thick, use a pruning saw. For those thicker than 8 inches, use a chain saw.

Step 3

Cut at the nodes to thin the crown. This will increase the amount of light and air that gets to the flowering pear tree.

Step 4

Remove branches with narrow, V-shaped connections because they are weaker and are likely already cracked. Keep all branches that are attached with strong U-shaped joints.

Step 5

Achieve crown raising by removing all the branches that are facing downward, at the bottom of the tree. This will provide clearance for pedestrians or traffic. The tree also will have a neater appearance.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not prune more than one-quarter of the crown at a time or you may cause stress and excessive production of new sprouts.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Hand pruner
  • Small pruning saw
  • Lopping shears
  • Chain saw

References

  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
  • Forestry Resources Extension
  • The Master Gardeners
Keywords: flowering pear, bradford, prune trees

About this Author

Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.