Deciduous Tree Leafing Problems: Why Won’t My Tree Leaf Out?


By: Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

Deciduous trees are trees that lose their leaves at some point during the winter. These trees, especially fruit trees, require a period of dormancy brought about by colder temperatures in order to thrive. Deciduous tree leafing problems are common and can evoke anxiety in homeowners who become fearful that their favorite trees will not recover. Diagnosing trees not leafing out is not an easy task and one that follows a process of elimination.

Why Won’t My Tree Leaf Out?

Trees not leafing out? A tree with no leaves when spring comes indicates a tree in some degree of distress. It is best to do a thorough investigation before jumping to any conclusions regarding the lack of growth.

A tree with no leaves can be attributed to bud issues. If the tree has some leaves, begin your assessment of buds that never broke. If you cut into the bud and it is brown and dead, it is an indication that it has been dead quite a long time. If the bud is brown on the inside but still green on the outside, the damage is probably due to cold damage.

You can also check the branches to see if they are still alive. If there are many buds dead, but the branch is alive, then the tree has been suffering for some time. The problem could be due to stress or a root problem.

Suspect disease when there are no buds at all. Verticillium wilt, caused by a fungus, is common in maples and can be diagnosed if the wood is streaked. Unfortunately, there are no controls for this problem.

Some trees, like fruit trees, fail to leaf out simply because they did properly chill over the winter.

How to Get a Tree to Grow Leaves

How to get a tree to grow leaves is not a simple task and is typically dependent on the reason behind the leafing out problem. The best way to get a tree to grow leaves is to practice proper care and maintenance. Following a regular watering, feeding and pruning schedule will ensure that trees remain as healthy as possible.

Proper irrigation will sometimes help promote health in a tree that is suffering stress. Taking up grass and other vegetation around the tree also helps to reduce the competition for nutrients and is a profitable practice for keeping trees vital.

Some things, however, cannot be controlled, such as the weather.

Getting Professional Help for a Tree With No Leaves

If you have trees that have not leafed out, it is always best to seek the guidance of an expert before making any decisions on treatment. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Office for help with diagnosis and treatment for deciduous tree leafing problems.

This article was last updated on

Read more about General Tree Care


Create Small Fruit Trees with This Pruning Method

Many fruit trees — including semidwarf varieties — can easily grow to 15 feet and taller. Anyone who has tried to manage one of these large trees in a backyard will instantly appreciate the value of small fruit trees: They require less space, are easy to care for, and produce fruit in manageable quantities. Growing compact trees allows you to tuck more varieties of fruit into corners of your property or a small orchard, and means you can choose those varieties by flavor and climate adaptability rather than by tree size. Nearly any standard and semidwarf tree — from pears, peaches and plums to apples and apricots — can be trained to stay much more compact.

The pruning treatment outlined in this article will create an appreciably smaller fruit tree than what you’re used to — as small as most dwarf trees (see “Why Not Choose a Dwarf Fruit Tree?”). Here’s the key to this little-known technique: Fruit trees’ reaction to pruning is dependent on the season in which the cuts are made. The trees’ response is determined by whether the tree is actively growing (spring), gathering nutrients (early summer), preparing for dormancy (late summer), or fully dormant (fall and winter). Keep this cycle in mind when wielding your shears.


The Kumquat Tree

Kumquat trees, also known as kumquat plants, have no thorns and very glossy leaves. Before bearing fruit, you will see dainty, small white flowers that can occur individually or in clusters inside the leaves. The plants can reach heights between six feet and eight feet.

The fruit can range anywhere from yellow to bright orange and can be round or oval in shape.

There are different four types of kumquats out there, including Nagami, Meiwa, Marumi, and Hong Kong. Nagami is the most popular and well-known this is a small, oval fruit.

Meiwa is a hybrid of Magami and Marumi, and it is more massive and more round in nature. Marumi is the largest of the fruits, and it is round and spicier in flavor than most. Hong Kong is a version that is only native in mountainous or hilly regions in China.

One of the most natural things about a kumquat tree is that they are self-pollinating, so you do not need to grow multiple trees one will be enough. The spring is going to be the ideal time to start planting a new tree from seed, as there are higher chances of rain and lots of sunshine. Early spring is the best time when you are transplanting a sapling as well.


How to Grow an Oak Tree from an Acorn

Last Updated: November 18, 2020 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 28 testimonials and 92% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 1,557,725 times.

It’s hard to imagine that a mighty oak tree can come from a tiny acorn, but with enough patience, you can grow one yourself! Look for an acorn to plant in early autumn, germinate it, and start it in a container. Then, transplant your acorn in a prepared site. Care for your growing oak tree so that future generations can enjoy it for years to come!


Crataegus (Hawthorn)

Hawthorn is a native British tree that illuminates hedgerows with its white blossom in spring.

Some varieties, such as Crataegus Persimilis ‘Prunifolia’ are perfect for small spaces and will bring glossy green leaves and masses of white blossom, turning a dramatic red in autumn. It likes a sunny location and is happy in most soil types.


Watch the video: How to: Diagnose u0026 Treat Leaf Curl. Yellowing Leaves Inc. Lemon Tree Update


Previous Article

Jovibarba globifera

Next Article

Weeping Willow - Salix babylonica