How to Prune Flowering Pear Trees

The flowering pear tree of Pyrus calleryana develops beautiful white flowers in the springtime. Grown for the attractive flowers, this tree can reach a height of 40 feet and offers a shade canopy when mature. The flowering pear tree can be grown in hardiness zones 4 to 8 and needs a full sun environment. Common names for the Pyrus calleryana include Callery pear and Bradford pear. While the Callery pear is popular for its attractive flowers, this tree puts on an autumn display of variegated foliage in red, purple, orange and yellow tones. The best time to prune your flowering pear is in late spring, once the flowers have passed for the year.

Man in orchard
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Step 1

Inspect your pear tree for damaged, dead or diseased branches. While you should wait until late spring to perform pruning, dead or damaged branches may be removed at any time of year to keep the rest of the tree healthy.

Step 2

Clip off damaged branches at their intersection with the main branch of trunk. Take care not to cut into the trunk, causing further damage. Cleanse your lopping shears when you're finished by spraying them with a disinfectant and dry them thoroughly before using. Carry all cuttings to a garbage bin far from the tree; leaving the clippings nearby encourages pests.

Step 3

Cut off water sprouts using the lopping shears. Also cut back limbs that rub up against other limbs, since the friction will cause one of them to break, damaging the tree and inviting disease.

Step 4

Thin out the interior canopy by clipping back branches. This promotes air circulation, which prevents the tree from getting fungal diseases. Aim to trim 20 to 30 percent of the tree's interior canopy for a clean, shapely pear tree. Ohio State University horticulturists recommend removing vertical branches to lessen the risk of storm damage and strengthen remaining limbs.

Step 5

Cut back long, low branches and branches that interfere with walking under the tree. This promotes upward growth. Remove these branches altogether or cut them back by half to stimulate new growth.