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Flowering Tree Guide: Why is Your Tree Not Blooming?

November 20, 2020

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It’s not unusual for homeowners with blossoming trees on their property to eventually ask, Why is my tree not blooming? Flowering trees sometimes need a bit more care and specific soil conditions to blossom, but the reason many people select and maintain flowering trees is for those beautiful, colorful buds! If a flowering tree refusing to bloom has left you with a disappointing property appearance, don’t dig it up just yet, as you can usually nurse that tree back to health before too long.

Reasons for a flowering tree not blooming include:

  • Insufficient water
  • Improper pruning techniques
  • Soil deficiency
  • Disease or decay
  • Pest infestation
  • Improper fertilization

Knowing a bit more about what causes flowering trees to wither can help you protect those delicate trees on your property! Even if a tree has already begun to wither, proper care and avoiding some common mistakes with flowering trees can mean enjoying beautiful blossoms again before too long.

After reviewing this information, be sure to discuss any other questions you have with a tree care service or local arborist near you. A tree pruning arborist can inspect trees individually and offer personalized suggestions for ensuring every tree on your property thrives and blossoms as expected!

Why is My Tree Not Blooming?

Note a few added details about what often causes a flowering tree to fail to bloom, so you can address these issues and help your tree grow healthy once again:

  • Trees, like any vegetation, need sufficient water to grow and thrive. Dry, sandy soil often doesn’t provide enough hydration for blossoming trees.
  • Stunted tree roots, such as those growing around buildings and structures, might fail to gather enough hydration for the tree to blossom as expected.
  • Pruning is often needed to keep trees healthy; cutting away thick branches allows for more sunlight and air circulation around tree trunks, and removing dead and diseased branches protects the tree itself. However, homeowners might mistakenly remove the very branches that provide blooms and flowers!
  • Improper pruning techniques, such as cutting branches straight up and down rather than at an angle, can choke a tree or cause bruising and other wounds. In turn, the tree might struggle to blossom and flower.
  • Pruning or removing branches during harsh weather can also expose a tree’s trunk to excessive heat or cold, making it difficult for the tree to thrive and blossom.
  • Along with adequate hydration, trees also need nutrients from the soil in order to thrive. Poor soil conditions, including high concentrations of gravel, sand, or clay can result in a wilted, withered tree lacking blossoms.
  • A diseased, decaying tree might struggle to survive and not have proper nutrition to support blossoms and flowering buds!
  • Some insects and animals such as birds and squirrels use trees for nesting and storing food without harming that tree, while other pests might burrow through wood, chew through leaves, or otherwise damage trees so that they struggle to thrive!

Now that you know some common reasons for why your tree is not blooming, check out a few questions many homeowners have about blossoming trees and why they struggle to bloom, and how to save them from damage and decay.

What Causes Trees to Bloom?

During cold weather, trees typically go dormant, meaning they don’t bud or bloom. Going dormant helps protect those delicate buds from freezing while also ensuring a tree has proper nourishment during colder weather, when sunlight and soil hydration are both scarce.

Warmer weather and increased sunlight exposure in springtime encourage trees to blossom and bloom. Fruit trees also start their growing cycle during spring months, so that fruit has plenty of time to grow and ripen before winter weather eventually returns!

Some Trees are Known to be “Late Bloomers”

Because weather and soil conditions act as a “signal” for trees to bloom, it is possible for them to bloom late and yet still be healthy! Some reasons for a tree to bloom later in the season include a late springtime frost, unseasonal cold weather, drought or overly dry conditions, and a lack of sunlight.

Harsh winter weather might also cause bud death; most trees will re-grow dead buds but this process takes longer than simply blooming in the spring. In turn, the bud and its flowers might not appear until much later in the season. If you’re concerned about a tree not blooming on schedule on your property and have ruled out late frost or other weather conditions as a cause, call an arborist for a full tree inspection.

Why is My Tree Not Leafing Out?

Lack of leaves can usually be attributed to bud damage. There are a few common causes of damaged buds, including cold weather. While most trees need a certain amount of cold and dormancy to thrive, an extremely cold or extended winter can cause buds to wither away, so that leaves refuse to grow once warmer weather arrives. Disease and decay can also interfere with healthy leaf growth.

To determine why your tree is not leafing out, cut through a bud on the tree; if it’s brown outside but green inside, it’s probably suffering from cold damage and will likely return to health on its own. If the bud is brown all the way through, the damage could be permanent. In that case, call a tree service or arborist to check the tree for disease, root rot, fungal infection, and insect infestation, and to note if the tree is salvageable or should be removed.

Believe it or Not…Your Tree May Be Stressed Out!

If you have a beautiful tree on your property that is suddenly showing signs of stress or that has become unhealthy, the good news is that you can typically save it with early intervention and some long-term care. Your first step is to call an arborist for a proper inspection, much like going to a doctor to get a professional diagnosis for and illness and qualified advice on how to treat it!

While your arborist will note the best way to assist your tree, most stress cases are the result of hydration issues; too much or too little water will affect a tree the same as it would any plant! An arborist will often check a property’s soil and suggest better drainage or added hydration for your tree, as needed.

Adding mulch is also an excellent way to save a tree, as mulch locks in moisture and nutrients and protects a tree’s trunk base and roots from too much sun exposure. Choose a natural mulch made from wood chips, paper, and other healthy items, and ensure you spread it around the tree rather than compacting it into place, for proper air circulation.

Do Trees Bloom or Blossom?

The terms bloom and blossom are often used interchangeably; however, when used as a noun, the word blossom refers to a flower while the word bloom refers to a blossom or flower that has already opened. When used as verbs, bloom means to make something blossom, or produce flowers or fruit. If your tree has no flowers, then the tree is not blooming, or going through the cycle needed to produce those blossoms.

While these differences might seem minor, it’s important to use the right term when describing a struggling tree to an arborist or tree care company. Understanding these differences also helps you better understand their advice!

The Special Tree-atment: Stimulating Tree Growth

Most trees thrive on their own and will even drop or prune a branch when needed, to thin out their crown or trim away decay. If a tree on your property doesn’t grow and thrive, however, you can try a slow-release fertilizer, to nourish the tree over the growing season.

Trees also tend to grow best in direct sunlight. Note if there are obstructions over your tree and remove them if possible; this might include trimming back branches on an adjacent tree or removing nearby sail shades, a pergola, and so on.

Tree roots also compete with other plants for soil hydration and nutrients! You might love all the lush landscaping on your property but too many trees, shrubs, and other vegetation can choke those roots and, in turn, the tree itself. Cut back some of that vegetation so your tree gets the water and nutrition it needs from your property’s soil.

Along with vegetation, note if anything under the soil might be blocking those tree roots. Plumbing pipes, a building foundation, a septic tank, an in-ground pool, and other such obstructions block moisture from reaching tree roots. If you cannot remove or relocate those obstructions, consult with an arborist about relocating the tree or even its roots, so it grows more easily.

How Do You Force a Tree Branch to Bloom?

If you’re impatient for a tree to bloom because you want to cut the flowers and use them inside, or would like to brighten up your home’s interior during winter months, you might be able to force a tree branch to bloom. Start by pruning some small, nonessential branches from the tree using sharp pruning shears or scissors; be sure to cut the branch at a 45-degree angle and avoid ripping and tearing it away from the tree.

Bring the branches inside and set them in a vase of room temperature water in a bright space, and let them sit overnight. Ensure that the branches are out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources.

Re-cut the branches, still following a 45-degree angle, the next day. Change the water every few days and mist flowers as they appear. After just a few weeks you should have some beautiful blossoms to enjoy!

A Word From Boston Tree Service

Here at Boston Tree Service, we understand the challenges of ensuring a flowering tree blooms every year. If you’re concerned about why your tree is not blooming, or need regular tree pruning near Boston, don’t hesitate to give us a call!


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