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Anna, Biologist, Gardening Expert
Category: Landscaping
Satisfied Customers: 11544
Experience:  I am a biologist with experience in water gardening, and growing trees, ornamental plants, and vegetables.
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I have three different species of mature trees that have only

Customer Question

I have three different species of mature trees that have only out on a few branches . I heart sick. any help?

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Landscaping
Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special interest in trees. I would like to help you today. Some additional information will be useful.
Did your area have an extra hard winter?
Has there been drought?
Are the leaves that are out smaller than usual?
Is it possible to send close-up photos of some twigs with and without leaves? If so, you can upload a photo by clicking on REPLY, then at the top of the area where you would type is a tool bar with icons. Click on the little paper clip icon (it's right next to the YouTube icon). Instructions will pop up. On some browsers, this doesn't work. if that happens, you can put your photo on one of the free photo sharing websites, such as  Then come back here and paste the link to your picture in a REPLY.
Thank you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

sent pictures to support and they will send them to you

Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. I'll keep an eye out for them.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I sent the pictures again today, hope you get them from support.



Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.
Hi Robin,
I just got the pictures. Thank you. I hate to give you bad news, but I believe you deserve honesty. Your trees do not look good. It looks like some kind of weather-related stress. But let's try to figure out if there's anything we can do.
What species are the trees - I can't tell from those few leaves?
Did you have a hard winter? Or, has your area been hit by drought?
On the branches with no leaves, does the wood snap off when you bend it?
In what state do you live? Different states have different problems.
Thank you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

the one with hardly any leaves is a ornamental cherry.

the one with the most leaves is a peach that I have gotten peaches the size of small grapefruit. .the pale looking one is an apricot.

I live in eastern plains colorado .

some of the bare leaf branches do snap off some don't.

They are treating me like a bad boyfriend!!!

I have drip irrigation, and winter didn't seem harsher than normal


Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** laughed at your bad boyfriend comment, but I'm afraid the situation itself isn't funny. I thought from the leaves that these were stone fruits. Stone fruits include peaches, apricots, nectarines,cherries, and plums, and all the ornamental varieties of these trees. Unfortunately, they are all subject to many diseases and pests, and are very sensitive to the weather. Subtle things, such as not enough days below 45*F in the winter, temperatures in the 25 below range, too much water, not enough water, excessive wind, insufficient snow cover, etc. can all cause problems.
Failure to leaf out often indicates one of two things. One is too warm of a winter. They require at least 1000 hours of temperatures below 45*F. I suspect your area regularly gets that. The other is root rot. Root rot can be the result of too much moisture in the soil or of a fungal infection in the roots. When the roots are unhealthy, they cannot transport nutrients and water to the tree above. I suspect this is what happened to your trees. They have a few leaves, which indicates a few roots have not rotted yet. They probably will as time passes.
Regardless of the cause, when stone fruits fail to leaf out, all you can do is remove the dead branches, and make sure they get water during dry spells (which you already do). If the problem is weather-related, the trees may produce new buds as time passes, or they may produce them next spring, but this is unlikely. If the problem is related to the roots, no new leaves will be produced.
You may have seen places where it says the life expectancy of stone fruits is 15 to 25 years, depending on variety. However, the average is 12 years. I have grown all of these fruits and have found cherries on average live about 12 years; peaches less than 10 years. Commercial orchards usually cut them down by age 12 because even if the tree is still alive, it isn't producing very well. Home gardeners (including me) often plant new peaches every 5 years. For the first 3 years, the tree is growing and produces little fruit. Years 4 to 8 are peak production. After that the trees decline.
If you examine the trunks carefully, you may see some oozing or dark spots. That's a sign of canker. It is the most common cause of death of stone fruit trees. There is no treatment for that, either. I mention this because once it occurs, it is best to remove the trees, and not plant new stone fruits in the same spot.
I wish I could tell you there is a spray or fertilizer that will revive your trees, but I would be lying. I know it's heartbreaking when this happens. I remember the first time i lost a productive peach tree many years ago. I was sure I had done something wrong, but research proved I had not. It's just the nature of stone fruits. I'm sorry.
In summary, remove the dead branches (any that snap) and give the trees good care. Then all you can do is wait. Let me know if you have additional questions. I hope your trees can beat the odds.
My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service only after you have all the information you need. Thank you!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

thank you for the info and tips, at least at65 I'll only have to buy peach trees around 3 more times


Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.
You're welcome, Robin. I like your senses of humor. I'm only a year behind you at 64. But I know lots of gardeners who live well into their 90's, so you never know.
Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.
Hi again, Robin. Did you need any additional information? If so, let me know. If you're satisfied with my service, please take a moment to rate it. I don't receive credit for my time until you do. Thank you very much.