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 November 5, 2018 >Hi Minas, Many factors can cause a tree to dieback from the top down. Local weather conditions, soil issues, or disease/insects are all possibilities. Initially, these issues typically only result in partial or tip dieback as opposed to the whole tree not leafing out. If the tree is still putting out new growth from the lower portion of the crown, there may be enough tissue to work with to regrow a workable structure, given enough time. I would recommend having a certified arborist come and to inspect the tree in person. They will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis and prescribe a treatment plan, if necessary. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area based on the zip code provided. Here is a resource that can help with hiring a certified arborist in your area: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Hopefully, this helps. Best of luck to you, Minas.
  • Minas Zartarian November 1, 2018 >I pruned the nectarine tree in the fall of 2016. In 2017 the tree leafed out ok but no fruit. This year the tree never leafed out. Only the bottom half of the tree has leaves and even that at less than 50%. Any suggestions?
  • The Tree Doctor June 6, 2018 >Hi Tammy, I forwarded this information to your local office. They will reach out to you as soon as they can. You can also contact them directly at (763) 515-2403. Best of luck to you! Here if you have any questions, Tammy.
  • Tammy Roitenberg June 5, 2018 >Brookside garden center: we have the following trees that did not leaf out or lost their leaves. 4 Superior Plums, Summercrisp Pear, Sweet sixteen apple, and Spring Snow Crabapple. I could be wrong but I think they all leafed out and then lost their leaves. Why? We water every day. Please help! Thank you! Tammy you may text me at 763-639-5025 also.
  • The Tree Doctor June 5, 2018 >Hi Maureen, 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 in your area. He or she can look at your tree and provide an accurate diagnosis and management options. I could forward this issue to your local Davey Tree office if you’d like. You can also contact your office directly at (410) 946-1548. You can also submit a quick consultation request form on their local webpage here: http://www.davey.com/local-offices/chesapeake-bay-tree-service-and-lawn-service/#main-form. Here if you have any more questions, Maureen.
  • Maureen McManus June 1, 2018 >Our black gum had a terrific 2017. It looked the best it had in many, many years. It warmed up early before winter was over, then it got freezing again. I'm afraid the the buds were damaged because of the weird Maryland weather we had. I've never seen a tree going from perfect to this bad just over the winter. I'd like to find out what is going on. Don't want to cut down our dear old, old friend.
  • The Tree Doctor May 24, 2018 >Hi Christine, You may be seeing some tip dieback resulting from cold winter temperatures, but that is somewhat speculative on my part. I recommend you contact a certified arborist in your area. They will get a better idea of what is going on when they see the tree in person. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area. Here is a resource that is helpful for hiring a reputable tree service company: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Best of luck! Here if you have any more questions, Christine.
  • ChristineChrio Allan May 23, 2018 >Our Brandon elm is leading however a lot of the leaves are in dense bunches. What could be happening? Thank you.
  • The Tree Doctor May 21, 2018 >Hi Joan, With the trees being that small, removing the dead portion and establishing a new leader is likely possible, although it may take several years for the plants to return to a normal shape. Without knowing the cause of why the tips died, it is hard to accurately make a diagnosis without see the trees. I recommend that you contact a certified arborist and have them come out and take a look. They will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and devise a treatment plan. Unfortunately, Davey does not service your area based on the zip code provided. Here is a resource that should help you when it comes to finding a reputable tree service company or arborist: http://www.davey.com/arborist-advice/articles/hiring-a-tree-service-provider-or-an-arborist/. Hopefully, this helps! Here if you have any more questions, Joan.
  • The Tree Doctor May 21, 2018 >Hi Cynthia, There are several possibilities to why this may be happening. I highly recommend contacting a certified arborist and having them come out and inspect the tree. They will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis and create a treatment plan accordingly. Unfortunately, Davey Tree does not service your area. This resource should help when looking to hire a reputable tree service or 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, Cynthia.
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