Why Your Tree is Not Growing Leaves in Spring (Cherry, Elm & Ash)

Why Your Tree is Not Growing Leaves in Spring (Cherry, Elm & Ash)

When trees trade in their bare-boned branches for leafy green stems, it’s clear spring has arrived!

But what happens if your trees are still bare this late in spring? How worried should you be?

Trees may lack leaves in the middle of spring for a couple of different reasons. Below, learn more about why your tree is not leafing out.


Why Your Tree, Including Cherry, Elm or Ash, Is Not Leafing Out

From disease to winter weather blues, trees sometimes have setbacks before they wake up in spring.

Why Your Cherry Tree Is Not Leafing Out

Fruit trees are particularly troubled by unseasonably warm days followed by a sudden frost.

Your cherry tree may have jumpstarted growth in late winter, expecting temperatures to stay warm. Then, it lost its progress when the weather turned cool again. Your cherry tree likely won’t bloom again. It still should grow leaves, but those may be stunted or suffer from frost damage.

Is Your Elm Tree Not Leafing Out?

Elms are protective by nature, so they may wait to sprout leaves until they’re sure the cold weather is gone! Because of this, it’s not uncommon for some elm trees to wait until early summer to grow leaves.

If your elm looks healthy (which you’ll find out how to determine below), just give it a little time!

Look for this on an ash tree not leafing out.

Spring and tree disease go hand in hand. And anthracnose is a disease that can hinder ash tree leaf growth.

Ash trees affected by anthracnose either sprout few leaves in spring or lose most of their canopy early on and grow it back oh-so-very-slowly. If there are any leaves left, they’ll be wilted, curled and brown.

What to Do When Your Tree Is Not Growing Leaves in Spring

You’re in luck! Often, a tree problem like this has an easy solution.

Here are a few ways you can help your late bloomer:

  • Inspect the tree’s buds. If your tree’s buds are plump on the outside and green on the inside, your tree is healthy and should grow leaves soon!
  • Mulch trees to help them recoup from winter. The proper amount of mulch keeps trees moisturized as they gain enough strength to grow more leaves.
  • Water. Water. Water. Proper watering helps trees that may be under stress from pests or disease.

If you suspect your tree is not leafing out because it’s unhealthy, have your local arborist diagnose the problem–for free!

  • The Tree Doctor June 22, 2017 >Hi, Susan! Sorry to hear your cherry tree is not looking very healthy! You can email us photos at blog@davey.com. Please be sure to include close-ups of the leaves, fruit and trunk. This way, we can make the best recommendation for you. Here if you have any other questions, Susan.
  • Susan Peuler June 21, 2017 >Hi! I have a 5 yr Small Montgomery cherry tree in front yard and it's not doing well this year. I live 60 miles west of Chicago and we had a very wet spring. It has produced small fruit but very stunted leaves and when I inspected them they seemed to have a faint cotton like substance around them! I couldn't see any bugs, and the trunk isn't Looking healthy. It's brown and appears to have holes in it. I'd like to send a picture so you could see. Am I able to on this app? If the tree trunk has been compromised, how can I help it?
  • The Tree Doctor June 21, 2017 >Hi Lyn! If the branches are still green, this may be a case of transplant shock. The good news, though, is that trees usually rebound and will bloom again. Be sure you are not overwatering the tree. You can learn the proper techniques of watering in our blog post, blog.davey.com/2016/07/how-much-water-does-my-tree-need-weekly/. Here if you have any other questions, Lyn.
  • Lyn Chatman June 20, 2017 >My Princeton Elm was planted in late March. When planted it had very few green leaves which quickly turned brown ad fell. Now it is mid June and no leaves. However, it is green under the bark and the branches bend instead of breaking. Will it ever bloom leaves or is it dead?
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