1. Home

Discuss in my forum

David Beaulieu

Bradford Pear Trees

By December 8, 2007

Follow me on:

I believe in giving the devil his due and, in this case, the "devil" is Bradford pear trees. The experts warn that it's a mistake to plant Bradford pear trees, and rightly so: their limbs break too easily in stormy weather. I've seen the limbs of too many Bradford pear trees lying on the ground after a good wind to buy one myself.

But there's no need to restrict reports of what I've seen to the negative. So in that spirit, let me share what I'm seeing at this very moment, as I look out the window here in my New England home in early December: my neighbor's Bradford pear trees are still almost fully clothed in their orangey-bronze autumn leaves! As such, the Bradford pear trees now stand as autumn's lone torchbearers, since most of the other colorful fall-foliage trees have by now exchanged their autumn garb for winter nudity. I, for one, am grateful for my neighbor's "mistake" in planting Bradford pear trees.

Note on the Comments section below for Bradford pear trees: As of 7/14/2008, 50 comments have been posted, and that's a good cut-off figure (it's getting too unwieldy). No further questions on Bradford pear trees will be answered in the Comments section; instead, please post any questions in the Landscaping forum.

Comments

March 3, 2008 at 5:16 pm
(1) Sherry Harlow says:

My Bradford Pear Trees are losing their bark. What can I do?

March 4, 2008 at 11:54 am
(2) landscaping says:

What action you (can) take depends on what caused the bark to come off. The bark may be coming off due to any number of things, including: mechanical injury, drought, and pest damage. It would be best to have an arborist take a look at the tree to determine exactly what the problem is and what can be done to solve it.

April 14, 2008 at 8:45 pm
(3) Jill says:

My Bradford Pear Tree will not grow–what can I do?

April 15, 2008 at 8:07 am
(4) landscaping says:

If you’ve fertilized the tree, watered it and have it planted in the sun, it should grow. If all that’s true and it still doesn’t grow, maybe the soil underneath it is a problem (e.g., poor drainage), so you could eventually try transplanting.

April 20, 2008 at 11:22 pm
(5) CJ Rugaard says:

I just planted a young Bradford about a week ago. The last two days we have had 30 MPH winds with gusts up to 40. The leaves of the tree are wilted and look dead. I tried to keep the ground damp but nothing seemed to help. Is my tree ok? What can I do to help it recover?

April 21, 2008 at 9:21 am
(6) landscaping says:

It’s common for newly transplanted trees to experience transplant shock. Their disturbed roots find it difficult to nourish the leaves with sufficient water, as an established tree would be able to do. High winds simply exacerbate the problem; the result is leaf-wilt.

The positive actions you can take to help the tree at this point, after the fact, are limited. But here’s what not to do: don’t fertilze. Fertilizing would foster extra leaf growth — which you do not want, since the tree’s disturbed roots are already struggling to function properly.

But do water your Bradford pear tree regularly — and play “the waiting game” to see how it pulls through.

Good luck.

April 22, 2008 at 6:02 pm
(7) Mark Shipley says:

I planted 5 small Bradford Pears last year and noticed that they did not flower. I looked up the receipt and they were Bradfords that I purchased. Any Ideas?

April 22, 2008 at 7:59 pm
(8) landscaping says:

The possible reasons for Bradford pear trees not blooming are numerous — in fact, so numerous that one can offer little more than guesswork. But please consult Cause of Flowering Trees Not Blooming to become aware of some of the possibilities.

April 22, 2008 at 8:48 pm
(9) Mark Shipley says:

As a follow up comment to my previous question, the tree did grow numerous leaves, but not flowers. Does your answer remain the same?

April 23, 2008 at 9:01 am
(10) landscaping says:

Yes. Blooming problems in some cases are quite distinct from foliage issues. That’s why plants sometimes leaf out like crazy, yet fail to bloom. This is especially true when the problem is soil-related.

April 24, 2008 at 1:21 pm
(11) Blaine says:

I have 2 bradford pear trees that were planted 3 years ago. One died and the other lived. The soil where the one died is like digging into soft butter, the other tree is in heavy clay. The new tree which is a year younger is growing like crazy and blooming, yet the older one seems to be on life support. Without transplanting and shocking the poor tree, what would be my options to remove/loosen the clay without shocking the tree?

April 24, 2008 at 5:57 pm
(12) David says:

Well, technically, I guess it’s possible to address the problem without transplanting the tree. But let’s get “down to brass tacks,” as they say: one way or another, to address the issue, it seems inevitable that you’ll have to take a chance on shocking the roots. The roots are, after all, right there — right in the way of any work you could possibly do with the soil underneath the tree.

One way to try to elude the roots to aerate the soil underneath them is to use an auger. Says Mario Vaden:

“We prefer the third method – strategically boring small aeration holes that are about 1 to 3 inches in diameter with a small auger bit. Occasionally the bit meets the surface of a root, but itís easy to reverse the auger and relocate it to the side a few inches.”

April 27, 2008 at 5:34 pm
(13) Mary Diel says:

I just planted a Bradford Pear tree and someone told me that I will have to plant at least two in order for it to bloom. Is this true?

April 28, 2008 at 10:47 am
(14) landscaping says:

My understanding is that with Bradford pear trees, male and female parts occur onn the same flower — so no, you don’t need two Bradford pear trees for pollination.

May 1, 2008 at 6:08 pm
(15) Annemarie says:

I am in the process of applying a weed control to my lawn. I know my soil is low in pH — so lime is needed. Do I have to wait a certain period of time before applying the lime or can I do it at the same time?

May 1, 2008 at 6:24 pm
(16) landscaping says:

I’m not aware of any need to separate applications of pre-emergent herbicide and lime.

May 6, 2008 at 9:04 pm
(17) Barney says:

I have a Bradford Pear tree in my front garden that is on the north side of the house. This spring, the tree is leafing out very late as well as very sparsely. The leaf buds that were set last fall are not opening. New shoots are appearing, but at the nodes where last year’s growth comes of the main branches. In the 6 years I’ve had the tree, I’ve never seen this before. Any ideas?

May 8, 2008 at 5:06 pm
(18) landscaping says:

You write that “The leaf buds that were set last fall are not opening.” Just a guess, but perhaps the leaf buds of your Bradford pear tree were slightly damaged (by cold, etc.).

May 9, 2008 at 1:04 pm
(19) Sam says:

How lose should I palnt a Braford pera to a driveway?

May 9, 2008 at 1:19 pm
(20) Sam says:

My Question should read how close to the driveway should I plant a Bradford pear

May 9, 2008 at 1:29 pm
(21) landscaping says:

While Bradford pear trees are not known for having troublesome roots, I never recommend planting trees closer to a driveway than you have to. To reduce the chances for damage, consider installing a barrier similar to the bamboo barriers people use to control bamboo. It may be unconventional to suggest such a barrier in this context, but it will put your mind at ease — not only regarding the Bradford pear trees, but anything else you might want to plant there. And even with a barrier, again, err on the side of caution and put a good distance between the driveway and the Bradford pear trees (I don’t have an exact figure).

May 12, 2008 at 12:57 pm
(22) Heath says:

Our builder/developer planted 16 Bradford Pear trees in lieu of the 16 hardwood shade trees specified in the Town’s regulations. After 6 years, the trees are somewhat “pathetic looking” and do not provide any shade. We do not believe that these trees should have been planted because they do not provide “shade” and I do not believe they are “hardwood” trees. Please provide us with your opinion(s). Thank you very much for your anticipated response.

May 12, 2008 at 1:26 pm
(23) landscaping says:

Bradford pear trees are now usually considered a poor choice (and an unnecessary choice, now that the superior ‘Chanticleer’ cultivar is available as an option for flowering pear trees). To that extent, I’m “on your side.”

However, I wouldn’t push the distinction between “hardwoods” and “Bradford pear trees.” The Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources calls “hardwood” a “relative” term. After showing how difficult it can be to arrive at a firm definition, they write:

“As long as you confine your universe to Iowa or the midwest United States, hardwoods are those species which loose their leaves on an annual basis and softwoods are evergreens.”

So technically, Bradford pear trees could be considered hardwoods, since they are deciduous.

May 28, 2008 at 10:30 am
(24) Ann Edmonds says:

I have two unusually large Bradford Pears that are 13 years old. I have seen the weather destroy many of these trees in my area through the years, however, my trees seem to have been protected from the elements. This year the trees have much larger pears and today, I noticed a very bright orange fuzzy coating or pollen on the pears, which I have never seen before. This substance is falling on the lawn. Is this pollen; is it normal; is it harmful to the lawn or aninmals (squirrels, birds) etc.?

May 29, 2008 at 5:32 pm
(25) landscaping says:

Sorry, I’ve never experienced that on Bradford pear trees. The only thing this even remotely sounds like is brown rot.

June 4, 2008 at 2:31 pm
(26) Todd Roof says:

I have a Bradford that is two and a half years old. About a month ago I noticed half of the leaves dying on it. What might the problem be, and what can I do?

June 5, 2008 at 9:55 am
(27) landscaping says:
June 8, 2008 at 10:00 am
(28) Daniele Berzin says:

Hello I have 2 very large Bradford Pears on my front lawn. They are about 6 years old now and have never given me any troubles until this year. A few months ago I trimmed the branches so they didn’t touch the house and didn’t cover the driveway. Weeks later I noticed branches falling off here and there. I also noticed leaves. I racked my lawn into piles all over the lawn. The trees themselves look healthy so I don’t get it. If I look up the tree I do see here and there branches ready to fall because they are dead. But it’s just small branches at the end and not an entire limb either. Its very sporatic. HELP!

June 9, 2008 at 9:51 am
(29) landscaping says:

Perhaps you introduced some sort of disease into your Bradford pear trees when you trimmed them? Just a guess — hard to know without being there. Check with your local county extension (usually at the nearest university) to see if they’ve heard of this in your region.

June 15, 2008 at 10:27 am
(30) Lu says:

I lost a 13 yr old bradford pear last winter due to a ice storm. Today, the other one in the front yard, I notice is split to about a foot from the ground. Bad wind storms lately. It is beautiful, so we cut some lower limbs and strapped two wrench webbing straps to hold it together. I hope it makes it thur the summer. Never again will I plan one.

June 17, 2008 at 1:59 pm
(31) Andy Ferrara says:

Many mature beadfords leaves are turning dark brown. I’ve notice that if you don’t trim off dead leaf branches this will later become fatal to the entire tree. What is this and what can be done?

June 17, 2008 at 2:44 pm
(32) landscaping says:
June 21, 2008 at 8:47 pm
(33) Carol says:

I am wanting to line my drive with Bradford Pear trees. I would need 20 to 30 and I live in Alabama, do you think this would be a good idea or are they to hard to take care of.

June 21, 2008 at 9:13 pm
(34) landscaping says:

I don’t recommend Bradford pear trees, especially on this scale: the branches break too easily, and you could then be out of a lot of money! ‘Chanticleer’ is considered a superior callery pear tree cultivar.

June 25, 2008 at 3:11 pm
(35) John V says:

What a resource this is! I have two Bradford Pears near the street, both planted four years ago. One of them has more “pears,” but the inside of the leaves are turning redish-brown, but do not feel or look brittle. The other about fifty feet away planted in the same soil (clay prevalant) is very green and has few “pears.” Is my red tree dying or in trouble? For what it’s worth, they’ve never flowered.

June 26, 2008 at 9:07 am
(36) landscaping says:

If the leaves “do not feel or look brittle,” it doesn’t sound serious.

You say your Bradford pear trees have never flowered. But if they have pears, must they not have flowered at some point?

June 29, 2008 at 10:38 am
(37) Rosemary says:

I have four non-fruit-bearing Bradford pear trees across my front lawn that are at least 12 years old. Yesterday, one split almost in half during a storm. It actually peeled away from the rest of the tree, leaving a 4-foot “wound”. Should I cut down the rest of the tree, cover the “wound” with something (what?), or leave it alone to recover?

June 29, 2008 at 12:54 pm
(38) landscaping says:

Tree wound paint isn’t as highly touted as it used to be. Combine that with the fact that this specimen’s shape is ruined forever, and I’d have to say cut it down, so that its disfigurement won’t draw attention away from the remaining Bradford pear trees.

July 2, 2008 at 12:46 pm
(39) Jill says:

Here’s my Bradford pear tree problem. I’ve found little holes circling around my specimen’s trunk in some spots. The holes don’t go down very far. What could it be?

July 2, 2008 at 4:28 pm
(40) landscaping says:
July 4, 2008 at 8:19 pm
(41) William says:

We have a Flowering Bradford that is about 19 years old. It bloomed beautifully this year and had great green leaves. A few turned brown and then almost overnight the whole tree did. We expect the tree has died but want to be sure before we cut it down. Any hope here?

July 5, 2008 at 10:24 am
(42) landscaping says:

William,

You can see a discussion here about cotton root rot, from which Bradford pear trees apparently can just suddenly die! While I can’t give a definitive diagnosis and/or prognosis over the Web, obviously, it doesn’t look good for your specimen. And considering that Bradford pear trees are supposed to have a life span of only 25-30 years anyhow, I don’t think it unreasonable to suggest that you start thinking about a replacement.

July 7, 2008 at 8:10 am
(43) Armando says:

I just got a new Bradford tree two weeks backs, and the leaves are turning brown and eventually coming down, is this due to overwatering or does it mean it needs more water since is pretty much a new tree ?

What is the general requirement of water for this tree? I leave in Michigan as a reference.

July 7, 2008 at 1:17 pm
(44) landscaping says:

Armando,

Your watering of the Bradford pear tree may not be the biggest issue here. The fact that you planted in summer probably has a lot more to do with the downfall of your plant. Spring would have been a much better time to plant.

Watering schedules for young Bradford pear trees (or any plants, really) can only be rough, with an inch or two of irrigation per week being an example of such an approximation. But there are too many variables to provide a precise watering schedule or amount of irrigation (size of tree, soil drainage, weather, etc.).

July 8, 2008 at 11:01 am
(45) Quenton Causey says:

How often are you suppose to water and fertilize bradford pear trees

July 8, 2008 at 11:52 am
(46) landscaping says:

As for watering Bradford pear trees, see the response to Armando (just above). When Bradford pear trees are established and large, give them a good watering once a week.

I’m not a huge believer in chemical fertilizers, preferring to fertilize with compost, instead. When I do use a chemical fertilizer, I tend to use half of what the directions say. An alternative is to use fertilizer spikes intended for flowering trees (read the directions on the package).

July 13, 2008 at 10:27 am
(47) James Rauch says:

My Bradford pear tree during the past 2 weeks has all of its leaves dead, Scratching the tree, I still see green. It is getting plenty of water. I irrigate my property. I have seen strange looking insects that look like a cross between a yellow jacket and a long legged crawling insect. My tree isn’t mature yet and is about 10 years old. What do you think is going on with it?

July 13, 2008 at 10:58 am
(48) landscaping says:

The insect doesn’t sound like anything harmful to me. Because you say your Bradford pear tree “is getting plenty of water,” my best guess is that you may be actually over-watering: established Bradford pear trees are relatively drought resistant.

July 13, 2008 at 5:54 pm
(49) Annette says:

My 6-year-old Bradford pear tree leans a lot. I fear for its health on gusty days. Should I brace it, or will it straighten up on its own?

July 14, 2008 at 12:19 pm
(50) landscaping says:

When staking Bradford pear trees, make sure you use proper technique. Also be sure to leave the stake in place long enough and that the ground is firm enough to hold. Please consult Tree Straightening Tips.

July 31, 2008 at 12:41 am
(51) JK says:

Bradford pear trees are beautiful, but will eventually succumb to storms. I’ve seen many broken pears over the years. Perhaps there are hardier varietals – I don’t know. But I’ll say this: trees take years (decades) to mature. Once a tree succumbs to damage from wind/ice, insects, etc. you lose not only money and labor, but time – and no amount of money and labor will replace time. Plant trees that will survive and thrive. Bradford pear trees look great at 5-10 years, but once they grow larger they’re very susceptible to wind and ice damage. Plant species that will stand the test of time. Pears are pretty, but eventually you’ll probably find yourself w/a broken tree, a chainsaw and stump removal. And you can never get the lost time back.

Just my opinion.

August 2, 2008 at 2:28 pm
(52) Martha says:

I planted three Bradford Pears last fall. This year small leaves appeared on the trees but very sparsly. I live in NJ and I have not seen this problem before. Any suggestions? Will the trees be OK?

August 2, 2008 at 9:23 pm
(53) landscaping says:

Hi Martha,

Please post your question on Bradford pear trees in the Landscaping forum, as per the note above in this blog post.

August 5, 2008 at 9:43 pm
(54) Mike says:

I planted a Bradford Pear tree a few months ago. Approx 8 ft tall right now, and it was fairly leafless at the time of purchase. Now it has a nice full top, but there are lots of “suckers” at the bottom of the trunk with lots of leaves. Should I cut off the suckers to increase foliage at the top?

August 6, 2008 at 11:47 am
(55) landscaping says:

Hi Mike,

Please post your question on Bradford pear trees in the Landscaping forum, as per the note above in this blog post.

September 3, 2008 at 3:45 pm
(56) Elizabeth says:

I planted my Bradford Pear approximately 15 years ago. It has been through Hurricane George, Katrina and now Gustav and still looks beautifully shaped. I love it’s color year round.

September 4, 2008 at 8:32 pm
(57) Debi says:

My Hubby and I planted a Bradford tree about 6 weeks ago. We thought that it had fire blight about 3 weeks ago but the local nursery observed the leaves and said that it was just stressed from the late summer planting. Now we noticed that it is starting to flower! What is happening? Does this mean that it wont flower next spring??? Help!!

September 5, 2008 at 12:31 pm
(58) landscaping says:

Debi,

As per the message above in the accompanying blog post, please ask questions about Bradford pear trees in the Landscaping Forum.

I can tell you this much, though. It’s not uncommon for stressed plants to bloom prematurely. Nor would I count too much on blooms next year: plants often need time to become established before blooming properly.

September 13, 2008 at 12:13 pm
(59) Darryl says:

Should I trim back my Bradford Pear tree, and if so, what’s the best strategy and method to use? Thanks.

September 15, 2008 at 12:26 pm
(60) landscaping says:

Darryl,

As per the note above in this blog post, questions on Bradford pear trees should now be posted in the Landscaping forum. Thank you.

September 19, 2008 at 10:17 am
(61) Melanie says:

We just lost our Bradford Pear Tree in a windstorm. Over half the tree is now missing. Up until this point we have loved our pear tree. Beautiful spring, summer, fall and winter. It has shaded our patio for years. We have tried to keep it thinned out so the wind would not cause it to split, but this last storm (IKE) took it out. They are beautiful trees but just cannot take wind once they are full. My husband wants to keep planting them, and just move a new one in to replace the one that we will eventually loose. It is inevitable. But I am ready to try something else that will have staying power.

September 26, 2008 at 11:26 am
(62) Darryl says:

Thanks.

September 28, 2008 at 9:06 am
(63) Lance says:

I am wanting to trim / top my Bradford. What time of year and how drastically should I cut it back? It is 25′ tall and I have heard all the horror stories.

September 29, 2008 at 12:21 pm
(64) landscaping says:

Lance,

All questions on Bradford pear trees are now being answered in the Landscaping forum. Here’s the link:

Landscaping Forum

Thank you.

October 1, 2008 at 7:58 pm
(65) loretta says:

25 years old, it just decided to split. John the Village horticulturist said it was a potential time bomb. I only lived here for a year and it took 15 large clear bags to rake last year and I was planning on checking this years count. Its an 9 foot stump now!!!

October 4, 2008 at 12:20 pm
(66) BtrentwoodTom says:

I have gone to that link for lanscaping and when I do a search for bradford pear trees I get absolutely nothing, just the front page

why did this list get shut down, it seemed so focused?

I have two bradford pear trees that are about 16 years old and huge. Considering a severe prune and looking for some guidance. Here is Tennessee it is a common practice what are anyone’s thoughts on it?

October 4, 2008 at 1:30 pm
(67) landscaping says:

Hi BtrentwoodTom,

Welcome aboard!

What I meant was that when you get to the forum page, you should post your question (not do a search), so that you can open up a new discussion on Bradford pear trees there. I apologize if that wasn’t clear.

The Comments section didn’t “get shut down”; I’d just like to reserve it for the function that it’s best suited to serve: posting comments. The forum, by contrast, is set up in such a way that it’s better suited for questions than the Comments section is.

But since we’re here right now, let me tackle your question on Bradford pear trees. I’d recommend reading the info on this site about pruning Bradford pear trees, in general.

However, regarding a severe pruning of older Bradford pear trees, you can run into a bit of a problem, in terms of their appearance afterwards. It’s easier to prune younger Bradford pear trees and then keep after them. As they get older, their branches grow so large that pruning them off really tends to spoil that classic Bradford pear tree shape that’s such a big part of their beauty.

Personally, then, I’d avoid the severe pruning and just accept that, being Bradford pear trees, they will eventually succumb to damage. In the meantime, you could start some younger replacements somewhere else on the landscape.

Whatever you decide to do, best of luck with your Bradford pear trees!

November 12, 2008 at 6:03 am
(68) J says:

when is the best time to plant?? I was told it is in the fall. how late in the fall can you plant or how early in spring??? Any help is appreciated!!

November 12, 2008 at 9:16 am
(69) landscaping says:

J,

The following article will answer your question; it breaks trees down into “evergreen” and “deciduous” categories (Bradford pear trees being deciduous):

What’s the Best Time to Plant Trees?

February 21, 2009 at 11:52 am
(70) Mike Anderson says:

When do you fertilize bradford pears and what number of fertilize should you use. Thanks

February 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm
(71) Nora says:

Is it possible to protect a bradford pear tree before a storm can damage it, by strapping the trunk in several places to avoid splitting?

February 23, 2009 at 9:54 pm
(72) landscaping says:

Mike and Nora,

If you use fertilizer spikes to fertilize Bradford pear trees, you don’t have to be fussy about timing the fertilizing, since they are slow-release.

I have no experience with protecting bradford pear trees from storm damage by “strapping,” but it’s an interesting idea.

March 10, 2009 at 12:20 pm
(73) texas says:

I have 3 bradford pear trees and I planted them all one year ago, 1 of them is flowering and blooming very nicely and the other two have cracks in the trunk of the tree that you can see pretty far in to the tree. What should I do? Are the trees dead and what caused it?

March 11, 2009 at 9:10 pm
(74) Lavender says:

Hi, We live in Las Vegas. Last year we planted a bradford pear tree in our yard and it seems to grow pretty healthily. It flowered just a couple of weeks ago when the weather turned warmed. Is this the right time of the year to give it plant food? What kind of plant food is right for the tree? Thanks!

March 12, 2009 at 7:19 pm
(75) landscaping says:

Lavender,

If you use fertilizer spikes to fertilize Bradford pear trees, you donít have to worry about the exact timing of the fertilizing, since they are slow-release.

March 13, 2009 at 11:52 am
(76) landscaping says:

Texas,

Stress from high winds could have caused those cracks in the trunks of your Bradford pear trees. If it were a different type of tree, perhaps I’d suggest attempting repair. But this is probably just the beginning of your problems with Bradford pear trees. I’d start looking for a replacements — ask at your local nursery for something that will stand up to high winds.

March 17, 2009 at 9:03 pm
(77) Brian says:

I have a bradford in my yard and many are in the neighborhood. The fragrance of them is horrible. It has a rotten or animal urine smell. I know it sounds crazy but the neighborhood smells like it. I have walked up and smelled them. Has anyone noticed this too? I am new to these trees.

March 18, 2009 at 5:18 pm
(78) landscaping says:

Brian,

You are not alone: some people think Bradford pear tree flowers stink.

March 22, 2009 at 2:34 pm
(79) Trish says:

I have a 3 year old Bradford Pear and did great the first year. The second year we put a flower bed around the tree and the third year it suffered during an ice storm. Now it barely produces leaves? It bloomed beautifully the past two weeks, but most of the trees in the neighborhood are full with leaves. Do you think my problem might be the flower bed or the ice storm? And then anything I can do?

Thanks,
Trisha – Oklahoma City

March 23, 2009 at 1:27 pm
(80) landscaping says:

Trish,

I’d tend to blame the problem with your Bradford pear trees on the ice storm (about which there’s not much you can do, unfortunately), since planting trees in raised beds isn’t necessarily problematical.

March 25, 2009 at 7:46 pm
(81) Donna M. Sills says:

I have a Japanese neighbor that speaks very broken English, so I told her I would try to help her. She has three bradford pear trees in her yard. One has bloomed, and two haven’t bloomed yet. They have probably been in the ground fours years. Any reason for the two to not bloom?

March 26, 2009 at 12:58 pm
(82) landscaping says:

Donna,

The are many possible reasons for Bradford pear trees not blooming. For example, flower buds are sometimes damaged in cold winters; the trees may not have received sufficient water; your soil could be deficient in nutrients (having a soil test done never hurts).

Nor should you put too much stock in the fact that one of the Bradford pear trees has bloomed: that one could simply have been a healthier specimen at the time of purchase, or the soil under it could be slightly different, or the other two could have sustained some sort of injury along the way (e.g., at planting time).

March 30, 2009 at 10:43 am
(83) Susan Crook says:

Our 10 yr. old Bradford Pear tree lost many limbs due to snow and ice covering the newly formed blossoms this weekend. One side is completely gone. Is there anyway to repair it?

March 30, 2009 at 12:46 pm
(84) landscaping says:
April 19, 2009 at 9:49 am
(85) David - The Woodlands, Texas says:

I have (6) large Bradford Pear trees in my yard. They were all planted when I built my home 6 years ago. All are beautiful and very full. The trunks are probably 10 inches in diameter and the limb span is probably 15+ feet wide. All of a sudden, I’ve noticed that (3) of them are starting to have dead leaves. It is weird, the tree overall looks ultra healthy, however the end part of 6-10 limbs are turning brown and wilting. Some of the damaged leaves are half brown and half green. And the affected limbs are only the ends (about a foot), the remainder of the limb / leaves towards the trunk look great.

Any help and/or comments would be great.

Regards- David

April 20, 2009 at 10:10 am
(86) Sarita says:

my neighbor asked me to remove our Bradford Pear tree because it is inhibiting the growth of the other hardwoods. Is that possible? And should I remove it?
Thanks!

April 21, 2009 at 8:19 am
(87) landscaping says:

Sarita,

I can’t advise you on whether or not you “should” remove your Bradford pear tree. That’s really a personal decision. If it’s planted on your own land and isn’t threatening destruction of another’s property, you would seem to have every right to it.

But if you wanted to be extra-cautious about staying on this neighbor’s good side, you could, of course, give in and remove your Bradford pear tree. But someone who would ask you to do that sounds like a potential bad neighbor to me.

As to the Bradford pear tree’s inhibiting the growth of other trees, that sort of thing is always possible, sure (if it’s shading them, then it could be inhibiting their growth).

April 21, 2009 at 8:53 am
(88) landscaping says:

David,

Just a guess regarding the problem with your Bradford pear trees, but perhaps the reason the inner parts weren’t damaged (by whatever inclement weather you may have had?) is that they were shielded by the outer parts (which, in turn, had nothing to shield *them*).

April 26, 2009 at 9:56 am
(89) Russell says:

Do Bradford pear trees produce more pollen than other trees?

Spring allergies, three large limbs down, one damaged vehicle and one trip to the emergency room…we’re considering removing three 20 year old Bradfords.

Any feedback is appreciated.

April 26, 2009 at 1:58 pm
(90) landscaping says:

Russell,

I do not see Bradford pear trees specifically mentioned (one way or the other) in the article linked to from this blog on hypoallergenic trees.

April 29, 2009 at 8:30 pm
(91) Tom Seeman says:

My recommendation on how to care for Bradford Pear trees is simple; pull them up if small or cut them down if large. You don’t want them period.

Yes they look nice and are shapely. But once they mature the branches will break and you’ll have to cut it all down anyway. If you’re lucky no one will be hurt or any property damaged. So in my opinion you may as well get it over with and start planting something else. Ironwood (American Hophornbeam) is a nice replacement, but there are of course many other small to mid-sized trees to choose from.

We’ve got many of them in our neighborhood, a good number have suffered this fate, and the rest will once they get larger.

May 2, 2009 at 3:01 pm
(92) Dave says:

They’re considered an invasive species for a reason.

May 23, 2009 at 9:14 am
(93) larry wolf says:

our bradford pear resides in a garden area in the front of our house with a northern exposure. The problem I’m having is the proliferation of suckers (?)throughout the adjacent area of our yard. Usually I control them with garden shears but this season they are so numerous that the concept of ” barefoot lawn” is a stretch. I’m prepared to remove this otherwise healthy specimen. Suggestions please.

June 8, 2009 at 7:55 am
(94) Brenda C says:

Our beautiful bradford pear tree was pulled from the ground after some high winds. It is not split or snapped off. What can I do to pull it back up and try to save it? How do we anchor it to stay up? I would hate to lose this tree. It is about 7 years old.

August 28, 2009 at 6:06 pm
(95) landscaping says:

Brenda,

I would try to stake your Bradford pear tree. This information on staking trees may help:

How to Stake Trees

August 28, 2009 at 6:11 pm
(96) landscaping says:

Larry,

Suckering is just another of the drawbacks with Bradford pear trees. Unfortunately, manual control is the only viable control method, as the root system would take up any herbicide applied and it would harm the parent plant.

September 26, 2009 at 10:41 pm
(97) kinsmom says:

is it normal for a bradford pear tree to flower again in august & septmeber??

September 27, 2009 at 8:35 am
(98) landscaping says:

Kinsmom,

It’s not terribly unusual to have trees bloom out of season like that. I, myself just had a magnolia bloom for me.

October 3, 2009 at 9:44 am
(99) Bill Miller says:

My parents have a 10 year old Bradford Pair tree which is planted in the ground outside, that they think they over watered because after 3 days of wind with gusts up to about 40, the tree was left halfway blown over like there is no tap root to ground it. Is this the case? Does the tree have just feeders with no tap root. I haven’t read this whole site and do not know if this has been addressed before. Thanks for your input. Bill

November 14, 2009 at 12:39 pm
(100) landscaping says:

Bill,

As far as I know, Bradford pear trees, like most trees, have most of their roots sitting in the top 12-18 inches of the soil. Furthermore, how far the roots push down will depend on soil conditions. Yes, it would be possible for severe over-watering to render them even less stable in high winds.

December 8, 2009 at 9:33 am
(101) Greg says:

If I cut down my Bradfords will the roots continue to grow?

December 8, 2009 at 4:31 pm
(102) landscaping says:

Hi Greg,

You may find that to be less of a problem than suckering, of which felled Bradford pear trees are known to be guilty.

March 24, 2010 at 1:26 am
(103) Angela says:

Hello, we live in New England and have two Bradford Pears in our front yard. My husband and I planted them when we built our house, which was 41 years ago. I thought bradford pears don’t last long and is it normal to have a tree that hasn’t lost any major limbs? I know it is a Bradford Pear (it blooms white every April and turns red in the fall). They are both nicely shaped at 30 feet high and 25 feet wide. Sorry if I sound like I’m boasting. I just wanted to know if there is something wrong with why they have lasted over four decades. Thanks.

April 7, 2010 at 11:45 am
(104) KIM says:

We planted Bradford Pear trees in our yard about 3 years ago and they are beautiful, but this year they smell really bad (like dead fish)…is this normal?

April 7, 2010 at 12:15 pm
(105) landscaping says:

Kim,

Yes, it is normal. Bradford pear trees are beautiful in flower, but the blooms stink!

April 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm
(106) jimmy says:

i have two year bradford pear the bark does not look good the tree has fruit an the leaves look ok what do you think it needs.

April 18, 2010 at 10:55 am
(107) Betty Lee says:

It is mid April, yellow leaves continuously fall 2-3 at a time. What is wrong?

April 30, 2010 at 9:33 am
(108) landscaping says:

Angela,

Count your blessings! I’m glad to hear that your Bradford pear tree is an exception, in terms of longevity and avoiding limb damage.

April 30, 2010 at 9:35 am
(109) landscaping says:

Jimmy,

I’d need to hear more about your Bradford pear bark to diagnose the problem. But it wouldn’t hurt to drive some tree fertilizer spikes around your specimen.

April 30, 2010 at 9:45 am
(110) landscaping says:

Betty Lee,

Yellow leaves on a Bradford pear tree in spring could be a sign of over-watering (whether by nature or by you) and/or poor drainage. If you have clay soil you may need to improve the drainage and/or aerate the soil. If the specimen sits in a low spot, you may need to improve the drainage. To aerate clay soil, I have heard of puncturing the ground with an auger. To improve drainage, you could dig channels to facilitate run-off. The latter, of course, is more feasible in a mulched area than in a lawn area (but hopefully it’s just a case where you’ve over-watered the plant and simply need to stop watering so much).

May 26, 2010 at 11:42 pm
(111) Paula says:

I have a bradford pear and one side of the tree is dying and the bark is turning black what gives. help

May 31, 2010 at 1:55 am
(112) JL says:

Do you think it’s possible to force the Bradford tree to grow its main branches through each other for added strength. I see many that are nearly split in half when they give way and I often wondered if the same results would have occurred if the main branches were circled through each other.

May 31, 2010 at 1:46 pm
(113) Marlene says:

We have a Bradford Pear, planted in front of our home by the city we live in, in 1982. When tree started to mature, we had it trimmed back every other year and continue to do so as of this date. Trunk is healthy, and fat, it was cut this year, so there is lots of new growth, however, one would think it was October, lots of yellow leaves fallling from inside the tree. What could our problem be? Also, I did notice this year, some “moss” type growth on the trunk. Thank you.

June 3, 2010 at 2:16 pm
(114) Golf Newt says:

For our country club in Iowa I am looking to add a little spice for the enterance drive in, would a Bradford Pear Tree work in this instance? We have two 5 foot wide burms (2-4 feet tall) that line the enterance road. Any suggestions on other trees? Thanks!!

June 3, 2010 at 3:43 pm
(115) landscaping says:

Golf,

The ‘Chanticleer’ type is made of sturdier stuff than Bradford pear trees yet resembles them closely, so that is what I would go with if it’s the look you’re seeking.

June 9, 2010 at 2:59 pm
(116) Matt says:

My Bradford pear tree has little orange spikes that are coming right out of the little pears. It appears to be some kind of fungus. Any ideas?

June 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm
(117) landscaping says:

Matt,

See post #25 above.

June 9, 2010 at 3:27 pm
(118) Matt says:

I just took a picture of it and thought you would be interested in seeing it.

http://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn145/majopa01/DSC05030.jpg?t=1276111616

August 4, 2011 at 6:07 am
(119) Barbara says:

This looks like what has happened to my tree for the first time since it was planted in 1997. There is an orange powder that is emitted from these spikes and it is in every crevice of my car. Did you ever find out what this is?

June 9, 2010 at 3:53 pm
(120) landscaping says:

Thanks, Matt. Not anything I’ve ever seen on Bradford pear trees before.

June 11, 2010 at 9:00 am
(121) Jake says:

Matt, we have just noticed the same thing happening with our Aristocrat Pear, although the spikes and the “pollen” they are releasing is a somewhat darker orange. Tree is over 10 years old and this is the first time this has happened. Am trying to find out what it is.

June 16, 2010 at 8:11 pm
(122) ashley says:

we just moved into our home & we have 2 bradford flowering pear trees. One was recently struck by lightning pretty much down the middle, we removed the fallen limb and since have had new growth so the tree doesnt look dead but i was wondering if the empty side will fill in or should we just take the tree down.

June 17, 2010 at 8:53 am
(123) David Beaulieu says:

Ashley,

I would replace it with a Chanticleer pear tree.

June 22, 2010 at 6:49 pm
(124) landscaping says:
June 27, 2010 at 11:28 pm
(125) Ree Griffith says:

Hello….I live in an apartment complex, and am trying to save one of our Bradford Pears. It recently survived straight line winds (well, took a chunk out about 2 years ago), but now have seemingly over a couple days noticed it’s dying. Late June, and it looks yellow/brown. I am in Dallas, and we’ve had 95-100′s for the last several weeks, and the other night I was up at 3am and think I found the culprit…a sprinkler head is broken and that station has been getting NO WATER. We haven’t had rain in weeks either, and the last time I saw the geyser at 3am was a couple weeks ago. I’ve had a hose > trickling water on it since 2pm (it’s 10pm now) and even though it’s been flowing all day, the water hasn’t run onto the driveway yet. Is this tree capable of being rescued?
http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e201/steanson/DSCN4003.jpg
[IMG]http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e201/steanson/DSCN4003.jpg[/IMG]

July 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm
(126) landscaping says:

Ree,

If the damage was too extensive during the dry period, there’s no way to reverse it. I would care for this Bradford pear tree as you normally would for the rest of the year and just wait and see if it shows signs of life next spring. Sorry: I wish there were more that one could do in such a case, but there isn’t.

July 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm
(127) Larry M. says:

We have recently moved into our Condo and the neighborhoods are lined with “Bradford” pear trees. To our surprise, our “pear” tree is loaded with pears. Our tree is the only one bearing fruit, but everyone says, it is a Bradford and it certainly looks like a Bradford. Could this be? Just wondering. Thanks.

July 29, 2010 at 9:15 am
(128) landscaping says:

Larry,

Yes, they can produce small fruits.

October 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm
(129) Monkeyman says:

I HATE my bradford pear tree. It drops these little round things every year all over the place, the flowers are smelly, and it has gotten HUGE and nearly unmanageable. Don’t ever plant one close to your house or it will fill your gutters with those wierd berry things. I’d love to take a chainsaw to it.

October 24, 2010 at 10:09 am
(130) Pam G says:

We have two Bradford Pears, one in the front of our house and one next to the pool in the back. They seem to be perfectly healthy and quite lovely in the spring, summer and fall. Our question is this: as most people do in this area, Dallas, Tx, small gardens are place under the tree with bricks or other material and a few inches of dirt to plant annuals and the like. The problem is that the plants do not flourish and the dirt becomes spongy. Is this typical under the Bradford Pear? We have other trees with gardens under and they seem to be fine. We’ve tried to replace with fresh dirt every year, but it’s relentless. What should we do?

October 25, 2010 at 9:14 am
(131) landscaping says:

Pam,

If you have success planting underneath other trees, there’s no know reason I know of why you shouldn’t be able to grow other plants under a Bradford pear tree, specifically. Perhaps try a different type of plant from what you’ve been planting there. It’s possible that there’s a conflict in water requirements: i.e., if you have to water the Bradford pear trees a lot to keep them performing well, then the plants growing underneath them might be receiving excessive water (if they’re relatively drought tolerant plants). The opposite could also be the case. So I’d recommend experimenting with plant selection, in an attempt to match your Bradford pear trees and the plants growing under them, in terms of water requirements.

March 5, 2011 at 11:37 pm
(132) Wendy Ravencraft says:

My bradford pears are getting a moss like growth
on them. Is this harmful?

March 6, 2011 at 8:56 am
(133) landscaping says:

While I haven’t inspected it in any great detail, I do believe I frequently see moss or lichen growing on the bark of people’s Bradford pear trees. It doesn’t seem to do them any harm.

April 7, 2011 at 9:25 am
(134) Leah says:

I have 3- 10 year old Bradford pear trees in my yard. 2 of the trees are blooming and flowering , they look great. 1 of the trees has not bloomed, and is brown. Buds are brown on the end and the tree has grown at a slower rate than the other 2, although they were all planted at the same time. Any advice?

April 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm
(135) landscaping says:

Leah,

Frankly, I’d write off the one that is not blooming. Bradford pear trees are notoriously short-lived and susceptible to wind damage. I don’t think it’s worth the trouble to try to save it (even if you could).

What you report is a surprisingly common phenomenon, in terms of the 3 of them being planted at the same time but one of them underperforming. Why does this happen? The root cause could be any of a number of things, including (but not limited to):

  • It was simply a “bad seed” from the beginning.
  • Mechanical damage (e.g., during mowing) or damage caused when you planted it.
  • A patch of soil can be different from another that stands just a few feet away from it (and the patch in question may be lacking in some way).
May 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm
(136) Michael says:

I have a Bradford flowering pear tree it is 12 years old. This year I noticed the trunk is turning green and the leaves are not coming to full bloom. Some of the white blossom flowers are still on the tree, they did not fall off when the leaves bloomed. What might the problem be.

May 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm
(137) landscaping says:

Michael,

The trunk turning green just sounds like moss, which is harmless. But regarding the poor leaf development, the only thing that comes to mind right away is to check for the presence of any insects.

August 4, 2011 at 6:15 am
(138) Barbara says:

I don’t know for sure what tree our city planted on our yard, but it has white fish-smelling flowers for 2 weeks every May so it sounds like it could be a Bradford Pear tree.

The tree was planted in 1997 and this year for the first time, it is emitting an orange powder (started about 2 weeks ago) that is causing a mess to our cars which are parked in the driveway (tree is planted about 4 feet from the driveway). It also has a green mold/moss on the trunk. Our neighbours don’t have the same issues with their trees – is there something wrong with our tree?

The image that “Matt” posted above is very similar to our situation, except the spikes have “burst” so they aren’t intact anymore, thus causing the orange powder substance.

August 4, 2011 at 9:27 am
(139) David Beaulieu says:

Barbara,

I’ve been reading recently about a disease called “Japanese pear rust” that seems to fit the profile of what you are describing. Based on this reading, I’m coming away with the conclusion that, while it’s a nuisance (the orange powder getting all over your car, etc.), this disease is not something that is going to harm your Bradford pear tree seriously. And it’s not supposed to be something that will keep occurring year after year. So it might be best to try just waiting it out for this year.

August 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm
(140) LukeTheDuke says:

I live in Fort Worth Texas. We are having extreme heat and water drought right now. I was told Bradford Pears are pretty drought tolerant, but about two weeks ago my two mature Bradfords started looking a little pathetic. Wilted leaves and saggy leaves. They are not losing leaves… yet. Since then, I have been watering at night for about an hour on each tree. They are pretty mature trees, probably 10 years old, maybe more.

Is there anything special I should do?

August 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm
(141) landscaping says:

Luke,

You may be doing a little too much. Even in Texas (and even for mature Bradford pear trees), one hour of watering every night sounds a bit extreme. I’m not saying that you’re doing harm (hard to know without being there), just that I’d be somewhat concerned about potential damage due to over-watering. You might want to check (if possible) to determine whether the soil (underground, in the root zone) is really dry enough to warrant that amount of watering.

September 4, 2011 at 7:19 am
(142) sam ricky says:

I agree with it “one hour of watering every night sounds a bit extreme. Iím not saying that youíre doing harm (hard to know without being there), just that Iíd be somewhat concerned about potential damage due to over-watering.”

watch the good wife online
the good wife streaming

October 18, 2011 at 8:27 am
(143) Convert DOC to PDF says:

It seems to be a real waste to plant such vulnerable trees.

December 13, 2011 at 4:17 am
(144) harry says:

I was trying to plant this but nothing has happened, no flowers, perhaps I did somewhere a mistake.

March 28, 2012 at 9:46 pm
(145) Suzie says:

We have 2 bradford pear trees in our front yard. One of the trees keeps sprouting saplings from it’s roots. Hundreds of tiny little trees popping up throughout our grass. What can we do to kill the saplings without damaging our grass? Why does this only happen from one tree and not the other?

April 4, 2012 at 7:16 pm
(146) landscaping says:

Suzie,

I can’t answer the second question, but here are my thoughts on the first one:

Not only would spraying the saplings sprouting from your Bradford pear trees with herbicide kill the surrounding grass, but it could also end up killing the trees, themselves! So we can rule out herbicides an option. Since smothering the area (with a tarp, say) would also smother the grass, that option is eliminated, too. I think that leaves you with cutting the saplings by hand. Sorry.

April 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm
(147) Vonda says:

I just moved into a house that has 2 Bradford Pears growing out by the driveway, but looks like there was one up closer to the house that was cut down and there are sprouts coming up will these become full grown trees or should I just go ahead and cut them down?

April 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm
(148) Susan says:

Our bradford has decided to send up shoots from the roots. They number in the hundreds and have destroyed our yard. What to do?

May 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm
(149) landscaping says:

Susan,

Please see comment #96 above.

May 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm
(150) landscaping says:

Vonda,

Personally, I would go ahead and cut them down. Bradford pear trees have stability issues — not something I would want near my house.

July 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm
(151) linda says:

I just noticed that my 2 year old Bradford pear tree has what looks like long scratch marks on it. These are located near the base of the tree and go from about 8 inches up the base down to the bottom. Is some kind of a disease responsible, or is an animal doing this? Otherwise the tree itself looks good!

July 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm
(152) elizabeth says:

do bradford pear trees have thorns i was told i had a bradford pear but its getting thorns is this right?

July 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm
(153) landscaping says:

Elizabeth,

I believe that the parentage of Bradford pear trees includes thorns as one of the characteristics, even though that has been bred out of the cultivars. Perhaps through cross-breeding, this trait has made a reappearance in your specimen.

July 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm
(154) landscaping says:

Linda,

My guess would be that an animal is responsible for those scratches. I am not aware of a disease that would cause such marks to appear.

September 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm
(155) zmh14 says:

I have a young Bradford Pear which was planted in March. It did well in the hot Arizona summer but over the past 2 weeks the majority of the leaves have turned brown on the perimeter of the leaves. This was after a period where I feel the tree may have been over watered and the leaves turned a light green color.
Any ideas?

September 24, 2012 at 7:30 pm
(156) landscaping says:

zmh,

If the leaves on your Bradford pear tree yellowed to the point of turning light green this summer, it is, indeed possible that you overwatered. Discoloration can also be an indication of a nutrient deficiency. Before you do anything else, I would have a soil test done at your county extension. Be sure to report to them the discoloration you have mentioned above.

March 28, 2013 at 11:08 am
(157) nancy says:

I have a Bradford pear tree that the bark is coming off the trunk. It seems to have buds on it but they have not opened yet. Should I pull the loose bark off or just leave it. I live in Texas and we had a very hot summer last year so that may be the reason. I love the tree and hate to think that it is gone.

Thanks for your help.

March 29, 2013 at 4:30 pm
(158) landscaping says:

Nancy,

Off-hand, I don’t see any significant advantage in removing the bark. I’d leave it alone for now and see how your Bradford pear tree progresses this year.

May 12, 2013 at 9:43 pm
(159) Connie says:

My bradford pear trees new growth has died. The ends of the limbs are dead. What is wrong and what can I do about it?

May 21, 2013 at 2:39 pm
(160) landscaping says:

Connie,

Sounds like it could be fire blight, treatment for which you can read about here.

July 20, 2013 at 12:26 pm
(161) Eve says:

We will be weeding our property with 2 4 D and were wondering if it will affect our Bradford pear trees.

September 11, 2013 at 4:58 pm
(162) landscaping says:

Eve,

I would *not* use 2,4-D. That herbicide is often used to kill the root systems of Bradford pear trees. For example, after having such a tree removed, homeowners sometimes are plagued by suckering — because the above-ground specimen may be gone, but the roots are still there. So they’ll use 2,4-D to kill off the remaining roots and, hopefully, stop the unwanted suckers from coming up. In your case, since you still have (and want to keep) the specimens, it would not seem advisable to apply the 2,4-D herbicide around the trees.

December 25, 2013 at 11:44 am
(163) Ginny Nelson says:

Is there a substance you can put around a pear tree to prevent pears from
forming?

December 26, 2013 at 6:10 am
(164) landscaping says:

Ginny,

There are hormone sprays that contain inhibitors such as Napthaleneacetic acid. These may not be available to the public in your area, however. I would ask your local extension office about this.

March 6, 2014 at 2:11 pm
(165) Jeanette says:

I have an bradford pear and it is 20 years old….it survived hurricanes, tornadoes, and an ice storm we just had in Alabama….so they can survive…mine looks as beautiful as it did 20 years ago when my husband and i planted it!

March 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm
(166) Tammy says:

I just want to know if a Bradford Pear tree bears fruit?

March 29, 2014 at 6:53 pm
(167) landscaping says:

Tammy,

It bears tiny pears, but, as far as I know, nothing substantial enough to have much impact. Bradford pear is an ornamental, grown for its spring flowers and fall foliage.

Leave a Comment


Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.