Bradford Pears

by Ed
(Myrtle Beach)

Bradford Pear blooming

Bradford Pear blooming

I live in eastern SC and the Bradford Pear trees are blooming. Not sure why, but I think it's because it was unusually warm all September and continues into October. Also, we had hurricane Florence three week ago. Could it be the stress from that? Just not sure why they are blooming so late.

Comments for Bradford Pears

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You're not alone
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

There seem to be a lot of instances of double blooming fruit trees - most of the reports are anecdotal (ie; people noticing this in their gardens, not a scientific study) and the main consensus seems to be that it's global warming, which completely turns the trees flowering cycle around.

Other reports indicate that the plant has had a stress of some kind - the dog digging up the tree, or unusual weather, or the tree is damaged in some way and planning on dying.

When the tree pushes out its final crop of offspring in preparation to dying, this is known as 'masting'.

Things that can trigger a second bloom;

- Cooler weather that is followed by warmer temps (false spring).

- Heavy pruning in the summer.

- Lack of proper cold temperatures in the winter, ie; no frost for any length of time.

As Bradford is an older variety, this second blooming trait is likely from its origins, from Nanking province in China.

There, it could have developed a failsafe mechanism for producing fruit even after a catastrophic weather event (typhoon, flooding etc).

Suggestions ranged from enjoying the off-season blooms and fingers crossed for another bloom cycle at the normal time (especially if there are multiple trees that are needed for cross-pollination) to pulling the flowers off the tree to keep its strength up.

Stress
by: Ef

Horticulture is obviously not my forte but I don’t quite understand how a plant or tree being stressed causes it to bloom. Could you explain? Hey

Note to Ef
by: Jacki

Stress of any kind triggers the blooming - this defense mechanism is caused by drought, too much rain, some kind of damage or even a pest infestation. All these stressors can cause a tree to try to produce its progeny.

This is the same thing that happens to plants 'bolting'. Spinach is a good example of this; normally, all is well while the daylength is getting longer, and the weather is cool. But as soon as longer days approach, and the temperatures get warmer, the plant goes into flowering mode.

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