The Q&A Archives: How and when do you prune a Bradford Flowering Pear?

Question: We bought some flowering pear trees for our yard. They are thin and are shaped like and inverted bell. Will pruning thicken them up? How do I improve the shape so they look like the picture of the tree we thought we were buying?

Answer: The Bradford pear grows 30 to 50 feet tall and 20 to 30 feet wide. It has a narrower and more erect canopy than the species. It is a rapid grower (12 to 15 feet increase in height over an 8- to 10-year period), it has a short to moderate life span (25 to 30 years). The best time to prune Bradford pear trees is right after flowering. The branches will thicken as they mature so pruning won't make this happen faster, but pruning does allow you to remove spindly, non-productive branches which may be competing with more desireable branches. Removing rubbing, crossing and broken branches will also help direct the tree's energy into maturing the remaining branches. Once your tree begins to mature, it should have a thick and healthy looking branching pattern.

Best wishes with your trees!

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