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 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.
  • Chris Fanelli May 15, 2018 >Hi, Last summer I purchased 3 young Japanese Maple trees. Different varieties. They did well after reporting. This spring, I added more soil to their planters & added cocoa shell mulch. 2 of the 3 leafed. One hasn’t though buds were present. One of the 2 that leafed, appears to be dying. Leaves are shriveling & drying.
  • The Tree Doctor May 2, 2018 >Hi Bev, Conifers sometimes show winter burn on needles the first winter after planting. This is caused by the loss of the root system during digging and transplanting not being able to keep up with water loss. Keep an eye on the tips of the shoots. You should see new candles of growth developing. New growth is often delayed somewhat for the same reasons listed earlier. Hopefully, this helps! Here if you have any questions, Bev.
  • Bev Sloan May 1, 2018 >Hello- I have a white pine tree that I planted last spring and a couple of them still have brown needles and it is spring. Is that normal? I have a picture I could send.
  • Pina Richards April 28, 2018 >I have two beech trees in my backyard, very healthy about 9 yrs old. We live in Vaughan Ontario. This past fall it did not shed it's leaves, the leaves are obviously dead but fully on the tree shedding very little throughout the cold snowy icy winter season. This is the first time this has ever happened to the trees. We are almost in May and they're still not shedding .What can we expect? I also have a beautiful river birch in the front, it is about 15 yrs old growing beautifully. This past January I had it trimmed down a bit to clean it up. I noticed where the branches are cut they're sapping a lot, should I be concerned since the river birch is a sensitive tree especially when it comes to any critters attacking it? A lot of flies are around the sap again we're almost in May.
  • The Tree Doctor May 30, 2017 >Hi Gregory. Sorry to hear the two trees in front of your house don't have any leaves! Scrape the branches of your trees to see if the bark underneath is brown or green. If it's green, your tree is still alive. As you suspect, the reason your tree hasn't leafed out yet could be because of the removal of the grass blanket. But, it is odd that it wasn't leaving out before that. It would help if we knew what type of tree you have, Gregory. Use this blog to find out, or email us a picture at blog@davey.com: blog.davey.com/2016/05/how-to-tell-what-type-of-tree-i-have/. Talk more soon, Gregory.
  • GREGORY SCALIA May 29, 2017 >I have two beautiful trees in front of my house I'm not sure what kind of trees they are but I just noticed no leaves are on the tree n last year this time the tree was all leafed my neighbor dug out this grass blanket we had for years in the front of our house it's a duplex n I'm wondering if when they were out there with the axed cutting into the roots if that's why it's not leafy but what puzzles me is it's now the end of May n they just started the axe work a week ago so the tree didn't have leaves on it before that but I just noticed that it didn't have any leaves on it a week after the work was done so shouldn't the tree start leafing in April or first week of May please lmk what n how I can tell if these two big beautiful trees are dead n if you think they will grow leaves TY
  • The Tree Doctor April 17, 2017 >Hi Ron! What a great pick for a new tree. Red maples are beautiful. Because your tree is a new plant, it may be on a different schedule. Wait a few more weeks and see if this tree's buds begin to leaf out. Wishing you and your young maple tree all the best, Ron.
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