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How to Prune Flowering Pear Trees


Wear goggles and gloves when pruning trees.

Know the different types of cut. A thinning cut removes an entire shoot. A heading cut involves pruning only the terminal portion of a shoot, which encourages the lower buds to grow. The most dramatic is the bench cut, which removes upright shoots, opening up the center of the tree and spreading branches outward.


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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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