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Bradford Pear Newsletter
 

   

DIRT DOCTOR ORGANIC NEWS #5

 

 

The Demise of Bradford Pears

        

 

  

 

 




             
   





Every spring we get suckered in. Bradford pears are indeed beautiful. The spring flower display and fragrance is delightful. Then we get impressed again in the fall when the autumn color does its performance. It’s the time in between when the problems show their ugly faces.


   
Bradford Pear Fall Color


Typical die back of unhealthy tree.

The fall color is usually pretty good, sometimes great. The problem is
that the tree has some very serious built in problems. Here’s the basic
information about this. At the end I will tell you the only way it should
be used.

 
PEAR, BRADFORD                             Deciduous – Sun          
Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’            Ht. 25’-30’ Spread 25’
(PIE-rus cal-er-ee-AH-nah)                     Spacing 10’-20’

HABIT:  White early spring flowers, red fall color.
Upright, very symmetrical small tree with stiff, tightly
upright branching. I it is a very short-lived tree.

CULTURE:  Easy to grow (for a while) in most well drained
soils with normal water and fertilization.

USES:  Specimen ornamental tree, spring flower color.
It has been overused as a street tree.

PROBLEMS: Branching structure is upright, tightly pinching
and subject to wind damage. It is also highly susceptible to
soil borne diseases and is a favorite hang out for grackles
and their mess. To make it worse, most of these trees are
planted too deep in the ground and have yellow chlorotic
leaves in the summer.

NOTES: ‘Aristocrat’ is a cultivar that has a more open branching
structure and long, drooping leaves. ‘Capital’ is a good narrow
growing cultivar. Callery pear, the mother plant of these cultivars,
is a better choice but very hard to find in the nursery industry.
It has some thorns but they aren’t a big negative to me.


Back to Bradford; how should it be used? Consider it a big, short
lived perennial and enjoy the color while it lasts. To get the most
out of any existing Bradford pears you might have, apply the
Sick Tree Treatment with the first step being root flare exposure.
That’s because almost all ornament pears have been planted
too deep in the ground.

Better flowering tree choices to consider include Mexican plum,
Mexican buckeye, redbud, dogwood and crabapple.

    
 Mexican plum
   
  Flowering crabapple
 Redbud
 

Naturally yours,

Howard Garrett
The Dirt Doctor
   
     Mexican Buckeye

   
 

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