The Cleveland pear (or “Cleveland Select”) has an attractive, narrow, pyramidal shade, making it a great fit for narrower spaces. Cleveland pear trees belong to the Callery pear family and are noted for early spring blooms, glossy green leaves. It flowers densely in spring with white blooms and the leaves turn a striking red-orange color in fall.
Choosing a location:
With their medium size they only grow to about 30-40 feet tall and 15 feet wide, and they like rich, well draining *loamy soil. They also grow in heavy clay and poor soils, which are usually inhospitable for deciduous trees. Cleveland pears like full sun to thrive and once established after the first growing season, they’re drought tolerant and need little attention.
*Loamy soil is one that combines sand, silt and clay in equal amounts. Loamy soil is ideal for most garden plants because it holds plenty of moisture but also drains well. This is important because it makes sure that sufficient air can reach the roots.
1) Be sure to plant at least 20 feet away from porches, sidewalks and driveways to allow proper space when the tree reaches maturity.
2) Dig your hole and make it twice as wide as the diameter and as deep as the depth of the root ball. (For the best results, place a 2-inch layer of compost in the bottom of the hole then add a 2-inch layer of dirt over the compost).
3) Hold the tree in an upright position and keep the very top of the root ball slightly above ground level and start to gently backfill the hole. Add about 2 gallons of water when you’ve back-filled your hole half way.
4) Fill in the soil, pat it down all around the tree then add an additional 2 gallons of water. In addition to hydrating the root system, watering helps the soil settle and keeps it from sinking around the trunk later on.
Watering: A healthy watering habit is very important for Cleveland pear trees. They require a bit more attention at different times of the year. In the spring and summer water the pear tree at least once a week with 5 gallons of water. If the leaves feel brittle or start turning brown around the edges, increase to twice a week, but be careful not to overwater your tree. Start the weekly watering regiment when you see buds start to form. Without proper hydration, many of the buds cannot develop properly. Mulching is very beneficial but be sure that it is not touching the trunk because this can promote fungus. Be sure to keep grass at least 3 feet away as it will compete for water with the tree.
During the cold season Cleveland pears lose their leaves in the fall and stay dormant throughout the winter. It still requires water and in most cases, giving it a good soaking once a month is sufficient. However, if your tree was struggling during the summer season or is young (less than four years old) you can water it every two weeks.
Pruning: The best time to prune your Cleveland pear tree is in the fall season but you can immediately trim off any dead branches at their breaking point. Remove any “suckers” that grow up from the base of the tree or from the roots by cutting them off at ground level as these steal nutrients away from the tree. Prune your Cleveland pear tree for a central leader. If there is more than one leader, cut it off. More than one leader results in weakened forked leaders.
Fertilizing: Fertilize in the fall when the tree starts to go dormant, about six weeks prior to the first frost of the season and use about a half-pound. Spread your fertilizer over the planting area and out to the drip line of the tree and then water well. You can use a general-purpose balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or similar.
The Cleveland pear tree has a superior branch structure that will withstand a multitude of elements including ice and wind damage. The Cleveland Pear is a versatile addition to almost any landscape. Its low maintenance, hardy nature and beautiful year-round appeal make it an ideal choice as an ornamental landscape tree.