How to Take Care of Bradford Pear Trees

Overview

The Bradford pear tree (Pyrus calleryana; also known as Callery pear) is grown in USDA hardiness zones 6-8. The trees' neat form, thick foliage and beautiful white blooms in the spring make them popular on streetsides, in parks and as accent trees. According to the University of Georgia School of Forest Resources, the Callery pear is named after a French missionary to China in the mid-1800s, and the tree is native to China, Vietnam, Japan, and Korea. Bradford pears are short-lived (15 to 25 years) and tolerant of pollution.

Step 1

Plant your Bradford pear in well-drained, but moist, site that receives full sun. Micro-sites that concentrate cold air and have fogs, mists or extended periods of high relative humidity should be avoided, according to the School of Forest Resources. You can plant your tree in heavy clay, as long as it has good drainage, but avoid sites with very alkaline soil.

Step 2

Water your tree weekly for the first year. After that, water only during a serious drought; the Bradford pear is drought-tolerant.

Step 3

Fertilize lightly. Excessive nitrogen can make the tree susceptible to aphids, scale insects, fire blight and other bacteria diseases. Prune during the late fall or winter to avoid pest problems. When pruning, sanitize your tools with a bleach solution.

Tips and Warnings

  • The Bradford pear tree will literally start to fall apart when it's about 20 years old. According to the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, the very narrow crotch angles of the erect branches are weak, and a gusty thunderstorm or a coating of wet snow or ice will bring the branches crashing down.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning tools
  • Bleach

References

  • Clemson University: Bradford Pears
  • Pears
  • Pruning: Bradford Pear

Who Can Help

  • Managing Ornamental Pear Cultivars
  • Washington County Extension
Keywords: Bradford pear, Callery pear, caring for Bradford pear trees

About this Author

Aileen Clarkson has been an award-winning editor and reporter for more than 20 years. Clarkson graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She has worked for several newspapers, including "The Washington Post" and "The Charlotte Observer."