Uh Oh - My Tree Has Buds, but No Leaves?

Uh Oh - My Tree Has Buds, but No Leaves?

No doubt, you eagerly watch your trees, waiting for them to pop to life–full of color, leaves and flowers.

But maybe this year the clock is a little off, and the buds still aren’t breaking. What’s going on?

Use the tips below to get to the root of the problem, and figure out the best way to help your tree.



Why are my tree’s buds not opening and turning into leaves?

If your tree has buds, but no leaves, there’s likely a good reason the buds remain cooped up.

For example:

What can I do if my tree has buds, but no leaves?

Bare canopies often point to tree stress. Your tree likely wants to bloom, so it can use its leaves to create more food. But, at the same time, the tree may be too weak to make that happen.

Help your tree by creating and enacting a proper plant health care plan all year—not just when there’s a problem. Adequate water, mulch and fertilizer will help your tree remain healthy and survive trying times.

Will my tree die if its buds are not turning into leaves?

It’s easy to find out if your tree will be OK. Here’s how:

Want an expert’s opinion about what’s going on with your tree? Comment below!


  • The Tree Doctor June 5, 2018 >Hi Erin, 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. If the twigs are still green, the tree may just require more time. I recommend you contact a certified arborist in your area. He or she can look at your tree and provide an accurate diagnosis and management options. I could forward this to your local Davey Tree office if you’d like. You can also reach out to them directly at (503) 205-6383. You can also fill out a quick consultation request form on their local webpage here: http://www.davey.com/local-offices/portland-tree-service/. Best of luck to you!
  • Erin Martinek June 4, 2018 >Our maple tree has not leafed out yet and usually does in spring. It has buds. We looked up stuff online. The branches are green if we scrape the top layer off. There are also buds that have not opened. We grabbed a few of those and are black on the inside. What is going on with this tree? We’re not sure if it is a Norway Maple or a Sugar Maple. Probably 30ft tall.
  • The Tree Doctor May 30, 2018 >Hi Megan, Recently planted trees sometimes take a little longer to get going in the spring. They also tend to be more susceptible to weather fluctuations compared to established trees because they have fewer roots because of the transplanting process. Check the twigs where there are no leaves yet. If you scratch the bark and the twigs are still green, give them a little more time. If they are brown or faded green/yellow, they may not have survived their first winter. I suggest you document the tree in photos and take them to the nursery where you purchased the tree. It may still be under warranty depending on your source. Best of luck to you. Here if you have any more questions, Megan.
  • Megan Lamontagne May 28, 2018 >Hello, I have a silver maple tree that is not blooming uniformly. The leaves at the base are full but half way up to the top the buds are still present. The buds are green on the inside. The leaves only started blooming about 5-7 days ago. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do to help the buds to bloom? The soil is moist. The tree was planted early last summer and was completely healthy throughout the season. The branches are not dry and still green. Any tips or help would be appreciated. Thank you! Megan
  • The Tree Doctor May 21, 2018 >Hi Rhonda, Check the twigs to see if they are still green. If they are, it may just be taking longer for the tree to begin to leaf out. However, if the twigs are brown or no new growth seems to be developing, you may need to contact the nursery for warranty replacement. Hopefully, this helps! Here if you have any more questions, Rhonda.
  • Rhonda Chambers May 19, 2018 >I purchased a black gum tree. It was delivered to me with buds but has never leaded out. Could it still be in shock from a colder, harsher winter? I'm hoping it's still shocked and not dead. Advice? Should I trim the tops of its branches cutting off the buds to hope to revive it and spur new growth?
  • The Tree Doctor May 16, 2018 >Hi Natalia, It would be really hard to make a diagnosis without seeing the tree in person. I would highly recommend contacting a certified arborist and having them come out to inspect your tree. Most reputable tree service companies will provide you with a quote at no charge to you. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area. Here is a resource that may help you in getting started with your search: http://blog.davey.com/2016/04/the-3-step-guide-to-choosing-a-safe-tree-service/. Hopefully, this helps! Here if you have any more questions, Natalia.
  • natalia casiano May 15, 2018 >My royal empress is not blooming leaves, very few only and the buds are all falling off. What do I do?
  • The Tree Doctor June 7, 2017 >Hi, Edward. Yes, those late spring freezes can certainly damage trees and shrubs. The good news, though, is that plants usually rebound as the weather improves. Try applying mulch and fertilizer to help things along. Also, make sure you are watering the tree the appropriate amount. Use this blog post to learn more about how much water your tree needs, http://blog.davey.com/2016/07/how-much-water-does-my-tree-need-weekly/. All in all, your tree should be springing back into action soon. Here if you have any other questions, Edward.
  • Edward Opon June 6, 2017 >This is my forth season with my Eastern Redbud tree. This is the second time it flowered in early spring and then we had a late spring freeze, but this year so far it has scrveled up leaves, and no new growth so far. Is there anything like more watering or a fertilizer for it to come back, or just leave it alone and let nature take its coarse
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