Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Prune a Bradford Pear Tree

Bradford pear trees are known for their flowers and their shape. Pruning a Bradford pear tree in the winter or early spring is essential to keep the branches from snapping and to keep the weight of the branches from damaging branches underneath. Bradford pear trees are robust and should be pruned on a regular basis from an early age. Pruning will keep branches from crowding each other and will keep your tree beautiful and free of broken branches.

Pruning the Tree

Remove dead or broken branches still on the tree. Find the strongest trunk in the center of the tree. This branch is called the central leader; it's the trunk you will prune the rest of the tree to.

Cut branches growing parallel to the central trunk to half their original height. This will reduce the tree's weight, keeping it from leaning and branches from growing too close to each other.

Look for branches that are growing within 15 in. of each other. Find the weaker of the two branches and prune that one from the tree. This keeps two large branches from becoming weak and brittle.

Prune out any small branches growing within 6 in. of larger branches to keep the tree thin.

Leave only the branches that grow from your leader trunk at a 45-degree angle or more. Prune out branches that are growing at a more acute angle.

Bradford Pear Tree Won't Bloom

Even if the Bradford pear sapling you bought was sporting a couple of blooms, it's unlikely to bloom in your yard for the first few years. Bradford pear trees flourish in full sun. To buy a separate fertilizer for your tree than what you use for your lawn, go for between 1 and 2 pounds per tree of a super phosphate variety such as a 0-18-0, especially in early spring before you expect blooms to appear. It could be stressed from diseases such as fireblight or bacterial leaf scorch. Bradford pear trees resist most insect infestations, but they could become stressed for other reasons, such as if a branch breaks off in a windstorm.


Cut branches once from below and then from above to allow the branch to fall away from you and to avoid injuries.

Garden Guides