Bradford pear trees need to be pruned in order to encourage healthy growth and to eliminate damage done by breakage. Bradford pear trees are famous for their soft white blossoms that emerge in time for spring, but few know how to properly care for and prune the trees. The trees are vigorous growers and this is part of their problem. There are often too many vertical limbs and this proves to weaken their attachment – and once they reach a large size, or a particularly violent storm hits, these branches will break and cause significant damage to the tree.
Pruning Young Trees
The best time to prune a Bradford pear is in the first few years of its life. The first step is simply cutting and removing dead and dying branches. Choose a “leader” branch – one that is the strongest of tallest branch towards the center. Cut in half all the other vertical branches that are growing parallel to your leader. If any pair of branches have sprouted within 15 inches of each other, remove the weaker one. This will prevent damage in the future from the branches once they thickened and were attached too close to each other. Also remove any branches that rub against a larger branch, or that pass within six inches of a larger branch. This will also prevent future damage. Leaving horizontally attached branches is the best bet as these are the ones with the strongest attachment point.
Pruning Old Trees
It is harder to prune an older tree as it is more likely to be a tangle of branches and twigs. Pay attention to the growth pattern of the branches, however, and you could still come out with an idea of which branches should be removed. Remove the easier ones first – the thinner vertical branches towards the center. Then clear any larger limbs that are too close together.