I planted a Cleveland pear several years ago. It grows straight up. If I trim the top, will it spread out? If so, when is the best time to trim?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Gary: The ‘Cleveland Select’ pear (Pyrus calleryana) is a nice ornamental tree that has better branching structure than the ‘Bradford’ pear. Its growth habit is exactly what you have described, narrow and upright. At maturity this tree will reach 35 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Pruning is not an option for changing the pyramidal habit of this tree. On some woody plants we can manipulate the branching habit by pruning, but not so for this tree. Pruning to remove dead, diseased, or crossing branches can be done any time of the year. Heavy pruning should be done in the winter months while the tree is dormant. It may not be the shape you were anticipating, but be thankful you are not growing a ‘Bradford,’ typically a shorter-lived tree because of its branching structure. It typically has pretty good fall color.