Q: Four of our fourteen Cleveland pear trees have been killed by ambrosia beetles. Can we replant this late in the spring?
A: You can plant trees now but let me urge you to plant something other than flowering pear. ‘Cleveland Select’, ‘Aristocrat’ and ‘Bradford’ pear produce sterile seed when grown far from other pears. But when two or more varieties of flowering pear grow near each other, they definitely can pollinate each other’s flowers. Each tree will then produce lots of little brown fruit with seeds inside. The seeds are scattered by chipmunks, birds, and other creatures. The resulting plant is a vigorous bush with menacing three-inch long thorns. It spreads like wildfire through natural areas. It is extremely difficult to control except with machinery. Because of this environmental threat, I have stopped recommending flowering pears for landscapes. ‘Natchez’ crapemyrtle, redbud, or saucer magnolia would be good substitutes.