When Do Tree Leaves Come Back in Spring?

When Do Tree Leaves Come Back in Spring?

There is nothing better than seeing trees flaunt fragrant flowers and green, glorious leaves in spring!

So, when will they sport their fresh new look?

While there’s no set date for all trees to break bud, we can use clues to predict when trees typically leaf out.

Find out when to expect spring tree sprout in your region and if you should be concerned about a late bloomer.

When Do Trees Leaf Out (By Region and Leaf Out Dates)

There are two ways trees know when trees wake up for spring. First, they respond to noticeably warmer days after a stretch of cold temperatures in winter. At the same time, they react to a change in light duration, when shorter nights and longer days of sun exposure, spur new growth and development.

At Davey, we use the Davey Nature Clock, a patent-pending software application that predicts bloom time and peak pest emergence. Utilizing weather data from over 400 locations across the nation, the Nature Clock helps to achieve more precise timing of pest management applications.

While the Davey Nature Clock’s predictions are specific for each year, species, and location, we can use it to generally predict when trees bloom.

Below learn when trees will typically leaf out and bloom in your area. And remember, if there’s unusual weather in your area, like a mild or severe winter, trees may bloom sooner or later than this.

  • Leaf Out Dates in the Midwest: Expect tree bloom in the Midwest when warmer temperatures get on a steady schedule, around mid-April.
  • Leaf Out Dates in the Northeast: Northeastern trees are adapted to take extra caution when it comes to spring bloom since it can be devastating for leaves to be shocked by a sudden freeze. Because of this, trees in the Northeast bloom late April to early May.
  • Leaf Out Dates in the West: Western tree bloom can vary widely. From coastal California to mountainous Colorado, trees are exposed to a number of different climates. Expect western trees to bloom fully by early May.
  • Leaf Out Dates in the South: Trees native to the South are well-adapted to the region’s warmer weather, so they don’t stay dormant for long. Trees in this region bloom as early as mid- March.

What if your tree is not growing leaves in spring?

If you’ve noticed trees around the neighborhood blooming while yours is barren, don’t panic! Just because spring is in full swing doesn’t mean your specific trees are ready to bloom or leaf out. 

For example, some trees, like birch and willows, bloom early to lengthen their pre-summer food production time. On the other hand, trees, like oaks and elms, prolong their bud break to protect against sudden drops in spring temperatures early on.

As long as tree buds are green on the inside, they’re alive and welljust waiting for their time to sprout. If you don’t spot buds or the buds are shriveled or black, that could indicate it's a problem.

If you suspect your leafless tree is a more serious issue, ask your local arborist what’s plaguing your tree.

  • The Tree Doctor July 9, 2018 >Hi Debbie, Late or no spring leaf out can result from many issues. Early fall or late spring freezes, drought, or harsh winter conditions can result in bud death, forcing the tree to develop replacement buds, which requires additional time to accomplish. These issues typically only result in partial or tip dieback as opposed to the whole tree not leafing out. If the entire tree does not leaf out, this often indicates a potential issue with the tree’s roots system, which is not supplying the water/nutrients necessary to initiate spring growth. I recommend you contact a certified arborist and have them come out and take a look. They will be able to accurately diagnose the issue and prescribe a treatment plan accordingly. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area. Here is a resource that can help you with hiring a certified arborist or reputable tree care company: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Best of luck to you, Debbie. Here if you have any more questions.
  • The Tree Doctor July 9, 2018 >Hi Debbie, Late or no spring leaf out can result from many issues. Early fall or late spring freezes, drought, or harsh winter conditions can result in bud death, forcing the tree to develop replacement buds, which requires additional time to accomplish. These issues typically only result in partial or tip dieback as opposed to the whole tree not leafing out. If the entire tree does not leaf out, this often indicates a potential issue with the tree’s roots system, which is not supplying the water/nutrients necessary to initiate spring growth. I recommend you contact a certified arborist and have them come out and take a look. They will be able to accurately diagnose the issue and prescribe a treatment plan accordingly. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area. Here is a resource that can help you with hiring a certified arborist or reputable tree care company: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Best of luck to you, Debbie. Here if you have any more questions.
  • Debbie Gorlin July 6, 2018 >I planted a beautiful Youngii birch last fall and only about 25% of the tree has buds that opened and made leaves. The buds are still green inside from the samples I checked from all over the tree, but never opened. Given proper care should it leaf out next year?
  • The Tree Doctor June 25, 2018 >Hi Tammy, Late or no spring leaf out can result from many issues. Early fall or late spring freezes, drought, or harsh winter conditions can result in bud death, forcing the tree to develop replacement buds, which requires additional time to accomplish. These issues typically only result in partial or tip dieback as opposed to the whole tree not leafing out. If the entire tree does not leaf out, this often indicates a potential issue with the tree’s roots system. I recommend you contact a certified arborist and have them come out and take a look. They will be able to accurately diagnose the tree and prescribe a treatment plan if necessary. Unfortunately, Davey does not service your area based on the zip code provided. Here is a resource that should help with finding a certified arborist or reputable tree service: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you Tammy.
  • Tammy Waldron June 23, 2018 >I have a weeping cherry tree and the leave buds are there but not opening up. Occasionally I have a couple of leaves appear but they dry up and die. If I scrap the branches they appear to be green. We have a some frost in the last month or so and some nights in the mid 30's. Could the roots not be getting the proper water even though I have watered it? What do you believe the problem is?
  • The Tree Doctor June 19, 2018 >Hi Dianna, Late or no spring leaf out can result from many issues. Early fall or late spring freezes, or harsh winter conditions can result in bud death, forcing the tree to develop replacement buds, which requires additional time to accomplish. These issues typically only result in partial or tip dieback as opposed to the whole tree not leafing out. If the entire tree does not leaf out, this often indicates a potential issue with the tree’s roots system, which is not supplying the water/nutrients necessary to initiate spring growth. I recommend you contact a certified arborist and have them come out and take a look. They will be able to accurately diagnose the issue and prescribe a treatment plan accordingly. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area based on the zip code provided. Here is a resource that may be helpful with finding a reputable tree care company or certified arborist: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Best of luck to you. Here if you have any more questions, Dianna.
  • Dianna Herford June 17, 2018 >We had a weird late winter this past Feb. an March, it was warm quite a bit, flowers bloomed to early an trees budded to early. Our small flowering plum an paper bark maple did not get any leaves at all, the maple sprouted a sucker near the bottom, the plum was a very healthy tree last year.. Could the weird weather last Feb., an Mar. caused a problem?
  • The Tree Doctor May 21, 2018 >Hi Gail, It all depends on how severe the injury is. It may take time for the tree to make new buds if most of the existing ones were chewed off. Also, any damage to the trunk will disrupt vascular flow between the roots and crown. You will simply have to wait to see if the tree can muster enough reserves to push out new growth. Hopefully, this helps! Here if you have any more questions, Gail.
  • Gail Street May 21, 2018 >Last year I planted a northern red oak at my cottage. It did well until the deer chewed at it over the winter. It is now late May and no leaves yet. There is still green inside the branches. Any ideas as to whether it will come back this year???
  • The Tree Doctor May 16, 2018 >Hi Chris, If the trees are in above ground planters, root systems can freeze over the winter without the insulating effects of the ground. I highly recommend that you contact a certified arborist in your area so they can come out and take a look at the tree in person. If you’d like, I could forward this request to your local Davey office. They would reach out to schedule a free consultation as soon as they are able. Here is their local web page that has all of their contact information: http://www.davey.com/local-offices/king-of-prussia-tree-service/. Hopefully, this helps! Here if you have any more questions, Chris.
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