The Q&A Archives: Stunted Growth of Bradford Pear

Question: Several years ago a drought nearly took two ornamental pear trees on my property. Since then they seem to have had their growth stunted. They don't flower as much as other trees that are the same age and variety (approximately 4 years old) around my neighborhood, and they are not nearly as full. They are about 3 inches in diameter. Anything I can do?

Answer: Use a spading fork to punch vertical holes in the ground around the trees. Push the fork into soil, wiggle it a little and lift it out again. Do this every foot or so starting a couple of feet from the trunk and extending out about 10 feet in all directions. I know this is tedious, but take your time and spread the task out over a few days.

Then fertilize the trees with a lawn fertilizer with no weed control mixed in. Use about a two cups per inch of trunk diameter and spread it in an area two times the limbspread of the tree. Water the fertilizer in with an inch of sprinkling (a coffee can makes a good sprinkler gauge). Give the tree such a soaking every time it doesn't rain at least 1/2 inch for one or two weeks, especially during the hot dry summertime.

Your trees should be off and growing soon and looking much better next spring during bloom time.

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