The Q&A Archives: Wilting Leaves on Bradford Pear

Question: We purchased a Bradford Pear tree last year. This spring it was doing great, then after a few weeks, the leaves started wilting. We've been careful about not giving it too much water. It has good drainage and gets full sun. We also haven't fertilized it yet.

Answer: Wilting leaves are a symtom of a number of problems, but the one I'd worry most about on pear is fire blight. Leaves and young stems start by wilting and then turn black. Trying to save a tiny tree that's infected may not be worth the trouble, since it involves carefully pruning off all affected branches. Depending on the size of your young tree, it may be worth starting over with a fire-blight resistant pear variety such as 'Mericourt' or 'Sekel'.

Another possibility is pear psylla, which are tiny, aphid-like insects that suck juice from the twigs. You can usually get rid of them with Oil-Away, a cottonseed oil based control developed by Gardens Alive (5100 Schenley Rd., Lawrenceburg, IN 47025; ph# 812/537-8650). It smothers the tiny insects and their eggs. If neither of these is the cause, then have a local professional check out your tree - a nursery worker or your agricultural extension office (ph# 405/262-0155) can help make a positive I.D. Hope this helps!

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