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Fruit Tree Blooming and Bearing Problems – And How to Solve Them!

by Stark Bro's on 05/01/2012
Nonbearing Apple Tree

“Why won’t my tree bloom or bear fruit?”

This is a common and frustrating question for any grower. You’ve planted your fruit tree. It’s growing. It’s living. But it’s not blooming or bearing fruit. While this can discourage a grower to the point of wanting to chop the tree down, you should go for the facts — not the axe. If your fruit tree doesn’t bloom or bear, it can happen for a number of reasons. In this article, we focus on the 6 basic requirements of fruit trees and address the most common issues/solutions related to fruit production.

6 Basic Needs for Fruit Production

1. Tree Development

If your fruit tree is still too immature, it won’t go into fruit-production mode. When you receive your tree from Stark Bro’s, it will be around 2 years old and will still need a few years before reaching its fruiting maturity. Read our article about how many years until you should expect fruit for more information about how long it takes for different trees to bear before deciding your tree has an issue.

2. Pollination

Fruit trees require pollination to be able to set fruit. If your tree is not self-pollinating, it needs a compatible pollinator planted nearby. Also, pollination-helpers like bees, birds, and wind need to be adequately present. If your tree is missing these important elements, it may bloom profusely, but it will most likely never set fruit. Read The Importance of Fruit Tree Pollination to learn more.

3. Hardiness Zones

Individual tree varieties have recommended hardiness zones for planting. You can find out how to determine your USDA hardiness zone by reading Fruit Tree Care: Planting in the Zone. Once you know what your zone is, you will be able to select fruit trees that are recommended to grow in your area.

There are different things to consider when you plant in your zone:

  • Trees must be hardy to your zone for a chance to survive winters and summers.
  • Trees must get adequate chill hours to produce fruit. Chill hours are based on temperatures that stay 45ºF and below for hours consecutively during the tree’s dormant period. If the tree is hardy to your zone but does not meet its chill-hour requirement, its fruit production will suffer. As a general rule, most peaches have a low chill-hour requirement, most apples are in the middle, and most pears have a high chill-hour requirement.
  • Weather can greatly affect fruit production. If a late frost zaps your tree’s blossoms or young fruit, then it will not be able to produce a crop for you to harvest that year. If a drought or intense heat/cold damages your trees and their buds, you simply have to care for your trees this year (prune especially) and wait for more favorable weather next year.

4. Pruning

Regularly pruned trees are much more apt to producing quality fruit. Fruiting buds tend to form on limbs that have adequate air circulation and light infiltration, which is your goal when pruning. Learn about pruning tips and more in our article, Successful Tree Pruning.

You also have to make sure that you find the right balance for pruning. Heavy over-pruning can cause a tree to produce too much vegetative growth in response, and under-pruning can contribute to the development of too much fruiting wood, which is the culprit for overbearing and fruit drop.

5. Spacing

Fruit trees that are planted too close to one another will compete for nutrients and light. If planting trees close together is part of your design (espalier and high-density plantings are two prime examples), then you will need to prune accordingly to keep them open to light and ensure the trees are getting enough nutrients from the soil.

If trees are planted too close to buildings and other structures, they will have similar conflicts with the added risk of interfering with those structures. Make sure you give your trees enough room to grow and flourish. For an easy-to-follow guide to tree-spacing, explore our article about Fruit Tree Sizes.

Healthy Lush (nonproductive) Apple Trees

6. Soil Conditions

Reasons a Fruit Tree Refuses to Bear

It is very important that your trees have the right balance of reserve food and soil elements. This is the best thing you can do to ensure your tree fruits and has energy to support its fruit. As you can see in the graphic, if this balance is off, it can have a negative impact on how your tree blooms or bears.

If a tree has plenty of reserve food but a shortage of soil elements, you may see a stunted crop of undersized, poor-quality fruit. You might even see no fruit at all. This can happen if your tree has tried to overbear, which may cause a tree to drop its fruit prematurely. It may also happen if your tree has experienced foliage-depletion, which can be caused by stress, weather, or other weakening factors (animals, pests, or disease). Identifying the stress factor and treating it will help to remedy the problem. You can have your soil tested to find nutrient deficiencies. You should implement routine control of pests and disease.

A tree can also have an excess of soil elements but not enough reserve food. The tree will appear to be healthy and lush during the growing season, but it will not bear fruit (regardless of maturity) since, in many cases, the tree doesn’t even bloom. This happens as a result of “over-feeding”. If the soil provides plenty of nutrients, like nitrogen (either naturally or by adding fertilizer), the tree develops an excess of vegetative growth that will delay the growth of fruiting buds. You can remedy this problem by holding off on fertilizing and waiting until the next growing season for results.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

There are some extreme solutions that should only be attempted if all else fails: root-pruning or scoring your trees.

Root pruning: Bring a spade or shovel out to the drip line of your trees. The drip line is where the tips of the branches are, but straight down on the ground. Take the spade or shovel and push it straight into the ground and pull it straight back out. Do not dig out any dirt. Move over a foot or two and repeat the process. You are essentially creating a dotted-line circle around your tree’s root system, which will clip the feeder roots and “shock” the tree into blooming during the next growing season.

Scoring: This has the same result as root pruning, but scoring should not be your first step to getting your tree to fruit. Consider it a last resort. When scoring your trees, bring a small knife (like a pocket-knife) out to your tree. Locate a spot low on the trunk and cut a single horizontal line into the bark, only halfway around the tree. Move up several inches and repeat this, but halfway around the other direction. Do not let these lines connect to one another or you will destroy the phloem tissue and completely disrupt the vascular system of the tree, which will lead to its demise. See the animated image as a reference for examples of properly scoring the bark halfway around a tree.

Demonstration of Tree-Scoring

If you keep these instances in mind, then you will have a better understanding of why a fruit tree does not bear. Nip a potential problem in the bud and exercise your patience (not your lumberjack-swing). Your trees will thank you!

Topics → Fruit Tree Care, Tips

167 comments on “Fruit Tree Blooming and Bearing Problems – And How to Solve Them!

  1. Jim Classen on said:

    Twin Meyer lemon trees in Cu pots. One blooms great withg fruit. The other (a Starks’s replacement) has never bloomed. It is green and tends to be gangley, I shape prune it and never bloomed. The other is smaller but great flowers and fruit. Treatment is the same as they are side to side. Indoors in winter here in Boise and out after frost is over. Finally ordered a 3rd last year and it is recovering from an enexpoed freeze with new growth so time will tell. I complained a couple of years ago and got the use this type of fertilizer speil. Still no flowers!!!

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Jim. :) Potted citrus trees tend to do a lot of their vegetative growing until their roots meet the edge of their container. At this point, the tree will begin to bloom. Chances are, the lemon tree in question is not ready to begin blooming/fruiting yet.

  2. richard carter on said:

    On May 4, 2007 i planted a large potted (5 gallon) Stark Bartlett pear. The next year i got some pears.
    Every year i get pears. Problem is it is only on 2 side lower branches. The tree has about 20 plus branches, but only the same two branches have pears every years.

    I am getting tired of waiting for the other branches to put out pears. This year same branches. Every year i get about 10 pears. What is the problem.

    The tree trunk is 3 inch in diameter and the tree is about 12-15 ft tall. Tree looks great, just only has blossoms on these 2 lower branches.

    Just don’t understand why there is not blossoms on the rest of trees. I have been growing apples and pears for over 30 years. All other trees i grow produce lots of fruit.

    This is first for me? Never had this problem before.

    Just think over 20 branches and only 2 branches have blossoms.

    Thanks
    Rick Carter
    Will be stopping in in June to buy some things
    From Michigan

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Rick! I have to ask, do you prune this pear tree annually? Light helps a lot to encourage fruit production. If you could send us photos of your pear tree [to info@starkbros.com] so that we may get an idea of other environmental factors that could help us advise you, that would be great! :)

  3. Mark on said:

    I have several apple trees that did not bloom this year. They are 4-5 year old trees. They all received moderate pruning as I seen fit early this spring. My question is, do I try root pruning, scoring and not fertilizing while the trees are at this age or is that recommended for older trees? If I can try these methods for my trees when do you recommend scoring, root pruning etc?? This spring/summer, fall, or next early spring? Thanks in advance for your reply

    • Sarah on said:

      Good questions, Mark. Since apple trees can take up to 5 years before they begin to bear, I would hold off on trying to root prune or score your trees. These methods are intended for use on developed trees that are not bearing when they should be. Yours may simply need more time to develop and reach fruiting maturity.

      Would you be able to send us photos of your trees? Depending on how developed your trees are (determined by the trunk) we will get an idea of what your trees should be doing at this point. Please send any photos to info@starkbros.com :)

  4. Jay Parks on said:

    What are the “soil elements” you mentioned?

    • Sarah on said:

      Hey there Jay! The soil elements are the macro- and micronutrients that are naturally occurring in the soil or are added through fertilizers and other soil-conditioning additives.

      For example: Nitrogen, Phosphates, and Potash found in most common fertilizers would be considered soil elements when they are feeding your tree.

  5. Elaine on said:

    Hi! Thank you for the article! What does scoring do to the tree to make it fruit? Just wondering, I have always thought damaging the trunk would hurt the tree. Thank you!

    • Sarah on said:

      Great question, Elaine! Scoring disrupts the vascular system of a tree. As long as the scored lines don’t connect (connected lines would be similar to girdling the tree), scoring acts as a sort of “shock” that is not detrimental to a tree. It encourages the tree to want to bloom and reproduce rather than sit contentedly taking in plentiful nutrients.

  6. Don on said:

    How can you stop peaches and necterines from getting stone rot or whatever it is called where their is only the stone left on the tree?

    • Sarah on said:

      Don, what you’re seeing left on the tree is most likely a mummified fruit. Do you spray your trees at all? We carry a Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Spray that is a great, and natural, control for many pests and diseases. We would also be happy to take a look at any photos if you have them so that we may see what you’re seeing affecting your peach and nectarine trees. You may send them to info@starkbros.com if you have any! :)

  7. Kimberly Saufley on said:

    Hi, We have some apple, peach, and pear trees that are on their 3rd year, and doing beautifully – except for the Peach Tree leaf curl that the peach trees seem to have. They apparently got it last year as well, but we didn’t know what it was. I have done a little bit of reading around the web, but wanted to know what the best thing is to do about it.
    Thank you so much for your time –
    Kimberly Saufley

    • Sarah on said:

      Hello, Kimberly. :) Peach Leaf Curl is a bothersome fungal disease. One of the best methods of controlling it is with a dormant spray like Hi-Yield® Lime Sulfur Spray. The key here is timing so be sure to use it while your trees are still dormant.

      You may also use something like Fung-Onil™ Fungicide to control this fungal disease starting in the fall and then again before the buds swell.

      • Kimberly Saufley on said:

        Thank you so much! I have another question! The apple trees that we purchased at the same time as our peach trees – 3 years ago this year. The peach trees looked like they were going to bear – then got the fungus. The apple and pear trees are only barely bearing… What should we do? – if anything? Waiting seems to be what we may need to do. We just want to make sure we are doing the pruning correctly and doing spreading the branches, and well, all the things you are supposed to do. =) Thank you!
        Kimberly

        • Sarah on said:

          Peach trees are one of the first to start producing fruit. Apple and pear trees, on the other hand, even at 3 years old, may still need more time to bear regularly so your instinct is right, Kimberly! Waiting is sometimes the hardest part about growing your own fruit trees, but it is definitely worth it. ;)

          As long as you’re pruning to remove damaged/diseased limbs and to keep your trees open for light and air circulation, you’re doing great! You will also want to prune back 1/3 of the new growth from that year so that the limbs are more sturdy and less lanky (especially in apples and pears — this lanky new growth may be susceptible to fireblight).

          In the fall/winter/early spring while the trees are dormant and have no leaves, it is the best time to really take a look at the structure of your trees so that you can strategically prune what needs to go, for their benefit in the following growing season. :)

          • Pamela Hanks on said:

            Thanks for answering MY questions while answering Kimberly’s. Now I have the proper info for my OWN fruit trees!!!

  8. Royce Pruitt on said:

    What is the definition of “Reserve Food” and “Soil Elements”. If there is a problem with these, how do you correct the problem.

    • Sarah on said:

      Good question Royce! :) Soil Elements are the naturally-occurring or added (fertilizer) macro- and micronutrients in your soil that your trees use as food. The tree feeds on these elements during the growing season and they, along with photosynthesis, feed the tree’s vegetative growth. Reserve Food is what the tree stores for itself over the winter to encourage development in the spring to bloom and bear fruit.

  9. Steve on said:

    My trees are going into their second spring with any buds or ANY growth at all. They remain as sticks with roots. They seem alive and sturdy but not growing. They are peach, cherry and apple, purchased from stark bros an planted in the recommended fall period – when it was still quite cold. I recently planted 2 new apple trees and they are budding and growing.
    How can I get those other trees going – I’ve fertilized, watered etc
    Thx

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Steve. First, we want to make sure the trees that are not doing anything are actually still living. You can check by scratching a small spot on the bark with your thumbnail about halfway up the tree. You are looking for green beneath this scratch to let you know if they are still living.

      If so, then the next thing we should check is the location: These trees should be getting full sun (at least 6-8 hours) without being shaded-out by taller trees, buildings, etc. They need to be in a well-drained spot. If they are planted in clay soil, their roots might struggle to break through the sides of their holes, which would make it difficult to grow. The soil there needs to be the proper pH for peach, cherry, and apple trees (they prefer a neutral type soil pH) — not too acidic.

      Is the fertilizer you’ve used water-soluble? These tend to be more fast-acting and I would encourage continuing your regular applications (usually every 10 days or so depending on the label).

      If you’ve been doing all of these things and they are planted in ideal locations, please send us photos of your trees in their environment so that we may get a better idea of what’s going on with them. You may send those photos to info@starkbros.com :)

  10. Robie Houser on said:

    I have two Black Tartarian cherry trees with a Mont Morency cherry tree very close by but I continue to only have only a few Tartarian cherries on the trees each year. The trees are healthy and growing but only produces about 5 cherries per tree.
    Any Suggestions?
    Robie Houser
    Vale, NC

    • Sarah on said:

      Hello Robie. :) I’m not sure how closely they are planted but, if they are too close, the trees could be competing for nutrients and light.

      Do the Montmorency and Black Tartarian trees have similar bloom times? The Black Tartarian is getting pollinated, but if it isn’t getting adequate pollination it won’t be able to produce a large fruit crop.

      The other thing that comes to mind is that the Black Tartarian tree is not yet developed enough to produce a greater amount of fruit. In some cases, even if a tree has been in the ground for several years (about 4-7 years for a sweet cherry), if it hasn’t developed enough, it will still need more time to bear large fruiting crops.

      If you’d like us to take a look, please send photos of your tree to info@starkbros.com — We would specifically like to see it in its environment, how closely it is planted to the others, and how big around its trunk is so that we can advise you further. :)

  11. Dorothy A. Haskins on said:

    I have a dwarf orange tree that is about 3 – 4 years old. I planted it one year outside and it weathered the winter with quite a bit of freeze that was pruned back in the spring. Problem is, it does not blossom at all. Grows higher each year and winters perfectly even without cover this past year. I have not pruned it this year but will soon. I have it close to the house and think this is why it weathers so perfectly. I only have the one tree. Could that be the problem? I thought the first freeze had affected the grafted limbs, sending the tree back to its basic structure.

    • Sarah on said:

      Hello, Dorothy! A fruit tree will still bloom even if it doesn’t have another pollinator around. The orange trees we carry are also self-pollinating. Heavy pruning may encourage more vegetative growth than fruiting so if you are pruning to keep the tree free of damaged/diseased limbs and open to light and air, you should be fine.

      Even if frost damaged the original limbs, our Valencia Orange is propagated on its own rootstock so it would still be an orange tree growing.

      In a potted scenario, citrus trees tend to bloom when their roots have reached the edges of the container. They put the energy into blooming and fruiting rather than growing. Your fruit tree may still be trying to grow more than bloom or fruit and may need more time to try to bear. :)

  12. DON on said:

    I’ve read a lot about how fruit trees require several years of growth before they will start bearing.
    How many years will a fruit tree bear before it stops bearing?

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Don! That depends on the type of tree in question as well as the size. Speaking generally, a dwarf fruit tree can live and produce as many as 25 years while larger trees bear and produce for at least that long and often many, many years longer.

      We hear from customers that have been growing our fruit trees (usually apples) for 30-40 years and they’re still bearing prolifically. A lot of it has to do with care, environment, and health of the trees how fruitful their lives are. :)

  13. Walter O'Brien on said:

    Can I grow and fruit cherry tree in Myrtle Beach,S.C.

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Walter. :) We have you listed in a Zone 8A in our system so the only self-pollinating sweet cherry that should grow for you there is the Starkrimson® Sweet Cherry. If you have space for more than one tree we also have Starking® Hardy Giant™ Antique Sweet Cherry and Royalton™ Sweet Cherry but they are going to require two different varieties planted for cross pollination so that you’ll get fruit.

      If you were interested in pie/sour cherries, you could also try Balaton® Pie Cherry or North Star Pie Cherry.

      Note: Since you are on the higher end of the recommended zones for most of the cherry trees we offer, I strongly recommend checking with local growers/garden centers to see if they recommend giving cherry trees a try in your area. Often, even if a tree is recommended to survive in your zone, different environmental factors and microclimates may keep you from being successful in growing the tree or ever getting fruit from it.

  14. DLE on said:

    Our Stark cherries, both self-pollinating and not, were planted in 2005. Beautiful spot for sun, good spacing on the trees, perfect soil conditions, good growth and vitality, pollinators in abundance, and on and on—yet we have no fruit.

    We’ve pruned in alternating years, fertilized in alternating years, and done everything we know to do, but our trees are barren. I know it takes a few years to expect fruit, but the trees still are not producing anything. Not what we were hoping for.

    I haven’t resorted to scoring yet, but I don’t know what else to do. Knowledgeable people who have examined the trees say they are in great shape.

    Any ideas?

    • Sarah on said:

      DLE, your cherries are most likely sweet cherries so it is not uncommon that they take as many as 7 years even to begin bearing. The ideal conditions will help them to be better prepared for their production years but it really comes down to the age and development of the trees. Sweet cherries require more time than other fruit trees to reach their fruiting maturity.

      Next spring could be promising for fruit production since they will have met and surpassed the recommended time frame for healthy sweet cherry trees to begin bearing. If they still fail to bloom and fruit, your next step would be to consider scoring or root pruning your trees to encourage them to produce fruit the following growing season.

  15. alan on said:

    I have a number of differant apple trees, some cherries and peach also. I purchased all from Starks about 10 years ago, and paid attention to pollination issues. I have also done suggested pruning, but from year to year edible fruit “yield” is never great… I either get very little fruit, or lots of fruit (over production) that falls off. I was ready to try some root pruning, but then saw the article on “scoring”, which I had never heard of. The scoring method with a knife seems much quicker and easier than root pruning with a spade. Are there any advantages or disadvantages comparing “scoring” vs “root pruning”. Also, best time of year for scoring?

    • Sarah on said:

      Scoring is simply an alternative to the root-pruning method, Alan. :) They have the same effect. Scoring should be done before bud break in early spring for best results.

      Note: please remember not to make the score cut all the way around the tree on the same level. This will “girdle” it and will be detrimental. Score halfway around the lower trunk and move up several inches to score halfway around on the opposite side.

      • alan on said:

        thanks for the response – How “deep” are you supposed to cut into the tree on the two cuts? Just thru the bark (1/32″), past the bark (1/16″), or????

        • Sarah on said:

          Just through the bark is fine, Alan. :) You’re not trying to really “cut” the tree, just disrupt part of its vascular system (which is located just under the bark) a bit.

  16. Rick Young on said:

    I have over 20 of your Apple Trees, some of which are over 8 years old. This spring I had 3 trees (Granny Smith) bud, but not break. They appear dead, but are still showing life (green) under the bark with no foliage. We had a mild winter in NC (Zone 5-6). Is there any possibility these trees will come back next year or are they lost? If lost any idea why?

    • Sarah on said:

      Rick, this has been a most unusual year to be a fruit tree as well as a fruit tree grower, hasn’t it? ;)

      As long as the trees are still living (green under the bark) they should eventually put on new vegetative growth. To encourage this, if you aren’t already, we recommend applying a fertilizer to your trees, but no later than July. If they are fertilized beyond July, the trees will be forcing new growth when they should be going dormant in the fall/winter, and this can cause problems with freeze damage later on.

  17. David on said:

    Hello,
    Between the neighbor and me – we have 4 apple trees we bought from you 3 years ago – all are looking very healthy and good. I have picked all the buds off the trees since we planted them but yesterday (05 Sep 12), my daughter noticed a lone apple at the top of the UltraMac Tree – it is a perfect looking apple – small in size – bright in color (red) and looks very good to eat. I looked at the other branches and trees and found no other fruit on any of them. My question is – what do I have in store for next year with this tree or any of the other ones? I know your articles say about 2-5 years for the trees to bear fruit and I think I read once it starts to procude fruit it will pretty much stay at that height – it is about 7-8 ft tall. Can we expect more apples next year on all the trees or more apples just on this one tree? Thanks.

    • Sarah on said:

      Good questions, David! If the apple trees you have planted are dwarf-sized trees, they should max out at 8-10 feet tall, semi-dwarf trees will be 12-15 feet tall, and standard trees can be anywhere from 18-25+ feet tall at maturity.

      The tree might not grow while it has fruit set, since it will be putting energy into supporting that fruit, but if it has not yet reached its mature height, it will still continue to grow even if it has already reached a fruit-bearing maturity.

      Since your UltraMac apple tree has started producing fruit, you can at least expect that same tree to produce again for you next year. You might want to leave some blooms on the trees to test this theory, and thin out any clusters of fruit that might grow. This will avoid the fruit crowding on your trees so you can get the maximum size and quality for your new homegrown apples! :D

  18. Gloria on said:

    We have a pear tree that is about 7 years old and is about 15′ high and very lush and round with beautiful leaves. It appears to be very healthy and does bear fruit. The fruit never grows beyond the size of an acorn but is shaped like a pear. Please advise. This tree was to be an anjou pear tree.

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Gloria, have you tried thinning the fruit on your pear tree when it begins to form? This may help the tree bring a smaller quantity of fruit to a larger size.

      Another thing that would help is to prune the tree so that it is open to more light, which greatly improves fruit quality. All you have to do in this case is prune out any branches that grow inward toward the center of the tree and remove any narrow-angled branches (45º is ideal — more narrow angles can be removed). If you see any branches that cross over one another, keep the more ideal branch and remove the others. As always, prune out any damaged or diseased branches while you’re at it.

      All of this pruning may be done in the late fall/winter/early spring when your trees are completely dormant, free of leaves, and the branches are easy to see.

      The last thing to consider is how far away your pear tree’s pollinator pear tree is. If the neighboring pear is too far away, more than a quarter-mile away, your pear tree may not be getting adequate pollination. It is ideal to have the pollinator within 50 ft of your anjou pear tree. I hope this helps!

  19. Witold on said:

    Hi I live in Calgary, Alberta Canada and I was wandering if there are some fertilizers you may suggest for apple= apricot = cherry= plum. I do not know the ” brands” of the apples( they are not crab apples but real apples One looks like Mackintosh). I got them as grafted trees. I also have 3 Mayer lemons in semiceramic pots What fertilizers do they need.
    Thanks – Like your write ups Witold

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Witold! There isn’t really much of a differentiation for fruit trees as far as fertilizers go. Synthetic fertilizers will display their N-P-K composition (Nitrogen-Phosphates-Potassium), and, for strong green growth, most have a high first number: the Nitrogen content. For example, our Stark® Tre-Pep® Fertilizer is a 22-24-12 concentrate that promotes healthy growth and production in fruit trees. Fertilizers can be useful in maintaining the health of your fruit trees even if they are not this exact N-P-K composition, though. Natural alternatives (manure tea, compost tea, etc.) also work wonders!

      Citrus trees can be Nitrogen-hogs, meaning they take in more from the soil than the average fruit tree. You will easily be able to find a Nitrogen-heavy fertilizer at your local garden center if your trees require it.

      Bear in mind, fertilizer needs may depend on your trees. If they are already getting adequate Nitrogen from their environment, adding more may encourage green, vegetative growth, but discourage blooming and fruiting. It’s best to test your soil so that you know you are feeding the needs of your trees — replenishing nutrients where they might lack naturally, annually! :)

  20. Elsie Derouin on said:

    I have a mandarin orange tree that I purchased acouple of years ago. I have it in a large container that I keep in the house. It had oranges on it when I purchased it and these ripened nicely. The following spring it bloomed and set fruit. The problem is the fruit got to about the size of marbles, some even turned orange and then all fell off. It did the same thing again this year. I have been giving it fertilizer and make sure it gets enough water and I put it outside for the summer and overwinter in the house. Can I do anything else to help it along? I had to prune it this fall since my cat decided to climb it and break a branch.

    • Sarah on said:

      Great question, Elsie. Fruit drop can be caused by a number of factors. We actually have a separate article written on that subject, titled “Shedding Light on Fruit Drop“. It is not uncommon for citrus trees to overbear, and this leads to fruit shed when the tree realizes it is unable to support a large (“large” in the tree’s opinion, not ours) fruit crop.

      You can help to avoid this by pinching off the blooms and young fruit to encourage a smaller overall crop to reach a mature, ripened, point. Another thing that triggers fruit drop, especially in potted citrus trees, is repotting (going from one pot to a new pot) and temperature change (going from outdoors to indoors). Usually if these factors are stressing your tree, the tree may drop its leaves as well.

      I hope this helps! Managing cats is another task entirely… ;)

  21. Betty Jo Caldwell on said:

    I bought a navel orange tree and planted it October of 2012. It is now the middle of January 2013, and the tree is full of budding blooms. Should I leave it be or try and take off the Buds?
    It is about 3 and 1/2 feet tall.

    Thanks.
    Betty Jo Caldwell of Jacksonville, Florida

    • Sarah on said:

      What a productive-sounding orange tree, Betty Jo! Now this part is up to you: If you remove the blossoms/young fruit, your tree will be able to put its energy and nutrients into growing into a stronger fruit-supporting tree in the future. If it is already in good healthy shape (lots of green leaves is a good sign), then you have the opportunity to let the buds bloom and become fruit. If you choose to let the blooms and flowers develop, you can help your tree support its first fruit crop with you by thinning the young fruit that forms so that there aren’t clusters competing for nutrients. I hope this helps! :)

  22. Sergio Salgado on said:

    I have a dwarth lemon tree I planted 3 years ago. It has grown and continues to grow new small branches. But the problem is the older leaves continue to swribble up as if not getting any water but they are. It also has not given any lemons at all. What is the problem? Lynwood Calif 90262

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Sergio! A few questions for you… Is your lemon tree planted in a container or in the ground? Similarly, is it growing or ever moved indoors if it’s planted in a container? There are different situations that might be causing the leaves to shrivel. Have you noticed any signs of pest or disease on the tree or the leaves? Some pests, like aphids, feed on the juices in the leaves causing them to appear shriveled. Any additional information would help us get to the bottom of this! :)

      Another thing you could do is contact your local County Extension Office and seek their expert advice. They’re a local resource for you to utilize, full of helpful information. Find yours here: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

  23. Lorena on said:

    Hello,
    Thank you for this article. I have a Meyer Lemon tree and a Key Lime tree. I have had them for 4 years and they are both potted and currently indoors. They both keep growing and have healthy leaves. The lemon tree has never grown fruit, and only once has had a few blooms on it. This year the lime tree has had a huge growth spurt, and has thousands of blooms. It keeps fruiting, but there is only one lime that is growing (the size of a golf ball.) The rest of the small fruits grow a little then turn yellow and fall off.

    1) What can I do to get the lemon tree to bloom?
    2) How can I get the lime tree fruit to grow?

    Thank you!

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Lorena! Fruit drop is common when a tree overbears. We have a separate article that touches on the causes and some ways to avoid fruit drop here: http://www.starkbros.com/blog/shedding-light-on-fruit-drop/

      Basically, your tree naturally sheds fruit so that it has enough energy to sustain itself first and its fruit second. If you thin out the fruit clusters and leave a smaller amount of fruit for your trees to support, until it has ripened, then you will decrease the amount of fruit your tree drops.

      As for your lemon tree not blooming, especially in the case of container-grown fruit trees, they are more encouraged to bloom and set fruit once their roots have reached the inside edges of their container. It is most likely the case that your lemon tree still has some room to grow as a tree before it tries to bloom again or set fruit. It might also be that it is lacking a necessary soil nutrient — like Phosphorous — for blossom production, but the best way to know if it’s a nutrient deficiency is to have your soil tested. There are kits at your local garden supply store, or you can send in a sample of your soil to your local County Extension service.

  24. meir on said:

    I want ti know what to do with my citron tree .They are 9 yrs old this is the first winter that one of the two trees fruited . They are kept outside in the spring to fall in pots and in my basement with just some faint sunlight throughout the winter i started giving them artificial light with a grow light am i doing anything wrong now and what should i do in the spring different then what i was doing in the past ? thanks !

    • Sarah on said:

      Hello meir! I’m sorry, but since we don’t offer a citron tree, I don’t know any specifics about the one you’re growing. It might have been grown from a seed, which could explain why it has taken so long to start fruiting. I would suggest continuing to do what you’ve been doing so far, if your trees are healthy otherwise, and see if they flower and fruit again for you this year before you worry about changing something. :)

      Do you happen to remember where you got your citron trees originally? They might be able to give you a little more information about what you should expect.

  25. wanda on said:

    My nectarine tree bloomed too early zone 7b and there are no pollinators such as bees or any other trees to cross pollinate with; is there anything I should do? This is the first year it blossomed, can I pollinate it myself since it’s self pollinating? Thank you.

    • Sarah on said:

      Nectarines and almonds are some of the earliest-to-bloom trees in the spring! They’re a lovely sight, aren’t they Wanda? :)

      Nectarine trees also tend to be self-pollinating, so you won’t necessarily need another variety around to cross pollinate yours for it to produce fruit.

      Many things contribute to moving pollen from flower to flower: bees (of course), but also things like birds and wind! But, if you’re concerned that nothing has been around to help with pollination, you can also take a small paintbrush (like those used for watercolors, not house paint), or a cotton swab, and collect the pollen from one flower and lightly brush it into the center of a different flower. This, along with what nature provides (even if you don’t happen to see it) should help your nectarine tree set its first fruit crop! :)

      • Julie Noonan on said:

        You might want to try native pollinators like mason bees. I’m not sure what area you are in, but there are different ones depending on the part of the country. I use blue orchard mason bees. These are very gentle, solitary bees. They are very easy to raise and are ready to pollinate in early April. Crownbees.com has some great information on them.

  26. Laurie on said:

    I bought a dwarf valencia orange from Starks about 4 years ago, and it still has not bloomed. I keep it indoors for the winter. I have read about them needing a cold period. If I put it in the garage, when should I take it out? I live in zone 6-7 (Long Island, NY). Thanks.

    • Sarah on said:

      Citrus doesn’t really need a cold period like other types of fruit trees, Laurie. They are actually sensitive to temperatures below 55ºF.

      There are many things that could contribute to your Valencia orange tree not blooming. Let’s address some basic reasons:

      Citrus trees in containers tend to bloom once their roots have grown to the edges of the container they’re planted in. Citrus have shallow root systems, so a wider container is better than deeper in their case. When their roots reach the edges of a container, they think they’ve maximized their space, so they are encouraged to bloom and fruit.

      If your tree is healthy otherwise (green and leafy) another thing that could cause your tree not to bloom is too much nitrogen in the soil or potting mix. If you’ve been fertilizing regularly, or if the mixture had fertilizer or nitrogen in it already, your tree may be getting too much. Nitrogen encourages vegetative growth (leaves, branches), sometimes at the expense of blooming, so if you’ve been fertilizing, consider taking a break from that so your orange tree is encouraged to bloom.

      If you’ve had your Valencia orange tree in the same container these past four years, you might want to consider refreshing the soil. Carefully remove your tree from its container (being careful not to lose any roots in the process), and put in fresh potting mix, and gently rinse the old soil from the roots of your tree. This will remove any built up, unusable, salts from fertilizers. If your tree’s roots appear circled or tangled, you can selectively prune a few of the tangled roots so that your tree is no longer “root bound”. Then replant your tree in the refreshed soil in its container.

      These things should help put your orange tree in the right direction to blooming and being fruitful, Laurie! :)

  27. Tracy on said:

    When is the best time to root prune?

    • Sarah on said:

      Root pruning is a sort of last-resort if your tree isn’t blooming, Tracy. Be sure to check that other issues aren’t the cause before trying this. If you have to root prune, though, the best time would be before bud break (usually in the early spring in most areas), while your trees are still dormant.

  28. alexnicholas on said:

    My tree also suffering this kind of problems so have you any ideas. I have got some tips from the Arbor Care Inc, which has great knowledge and expert of it.

    • Sarah on said:

      Any of the tips in this article, and that you have gotten from tree specialists like Arbor Care Inc., should help you help your trees if they are not blooming, alexnicholas. :)

      • Betty Jo Caldwell on said:

        I had my soil tested and found I needed lime. you now can purchase a soil test kit for under $5.00 and test your own soil. Read direction carefully before using, as I had to buy a second one.

        • Sarah on said:

          Excellent, Betty Jo! Thanks for sharing this information. I managed to find soil-testing kits at my local garden center here, too, but for in-depth analysis I think I’ll leave it to the experts! ;)

  29. Betty Jo Caldwell on said:

    I planter a Navel Orange Tree in November, due to weather here in North Florida My tree bloomed way to early. After several cold snaps I have lost all my blooms and some limbs.
    I covered them well, and planted on the south side of house. I have other large citrus trees that are doing great and did not bloom early. Will they bloom again this year?

    Thank you,
    Betty Jo

    • Sarah on said:

      It can be in the nature of citrus trees to bloom more than once in a year. A lot of the time, given the long ripening period on citrus fruit, you can have fruit AND new blossoms on the tree at the same time. I would say chances of this happening are good, but you can ask folks around you (if they also grow citrus trees) if theirs usually do. :D

  30. Betty Jo Caldwell on said:

    I have tried several Avocado trees in North Florida, They always freeze even after covering. Is there an Avocado tree that will grow and survive in zone 8.

    Thanks,
    Betty Jo

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Betty Jo! I have been on the hunt for a cold-hardy avocado tree myself, but I haven’t managed to find a reliable one, yet. I am sure there are some out there, though, so hopefully they become more popular soon and we can both give them a try!

  31. pat on said:

    I have two DIFFERNT drawf peach trees about 7 years old. One I believe is a male,the other female (if that make any sencse). One blooms flowers that are wide , the other blooms flowers that are slender. the peach tree with the wider flower bloom have bloomed only on one small section of the tree, it also has new leaves. The rest of the tree ( which is most of the tree) has no buds , no bloom and no leaves. It looks like it did in the fall. Like it got frozen in time. While my other peach tree that makes slender bloom flowers is fully bloomed with some new leaves throughout. What is wrong with my tree? Why would a tree bloom only on one small section(few branches) of the tree?

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Pat! Most peach trees are self-pollinating — this means they have male and female flowers for pollination and fruit-production on the same tree. It sounds like something may have happened to the one peach tree that is blooming, but only on a small section of the branches.

      If there are any buds swelling on the bare branches, or if you scratch the bark away on the lower portion of the bare branches (not the tips) and find green beneath your scratch mark, they are still living, and are simply delayed. If this is the case, it could be something like that section of the tree might not be getting enough light, which can happen if it’s planted too close to a building or other structure.

      If you don’t find any living buds, and if the branches are brittle and dead, it would seem that the peach tree that is only blooming on one small section of branches has suffered some kind of shock and part of it has already died as a result. This could be related to many things, like the weather — the intense drought many areas suffered last year — or even pests. Voles (small ground-dwelling rodents) are notorious for chewing roots and the bark around the base of a tree, which can cause it to slowly die.

      These are some “most-likely” causes for what might be going on with your peach tree. Don’t forget, you can also contact your county Extension service — experts that are local to your area. They are a great resource to utilize, especially if you have location-specific gardening concerns.

  32. Christine Stewart on said:

    I have 6 apple trees, 4 are Winesap, 1 Red Delicious and 1 Jonathan. They are 3 years old. This year 2 of my trees did not leaf out. They have buds that look like they are going to come out, but they stopped. The trees are not dead they are still green. What do I need to do to get them to leaf out?

    • Sarah on said:

      Since the trees are alive, the best thing to do would be to wait for the buds to open. I’m not sure where you’re located, but the leaves are just now appearing on my apple trees here. Spring has been so late this year that it’s not unusual for them to be slow to wake. Each variety will behave a little differently, and the environment allows the trees respond individually (even if they are the same variety).

      If you haven’t fertilized yet this spring, you could give that a try, but there isn’t really a good way to force the trees to leaf out sooner than they’re ready to. :)

      • Christine Stewart on said:

        Thank you Sarah. I am in Eastern Kentucky and spring has been about 1 month behind getting her this year. I normally use a 10.10.10 fertilizer, but have not done so this year. I did mix some miracle grow and poured on the 2 that have not leafed out. my other 6 have all leafed out and bloomed. These 2 are Winesap and they have been slow leafing. Thanks again. I will fertilize and try to be patient. : )

  33. Charlie on said:

    Hi I have a plum tree that was at my house when I bought it . Four years ago it bore fruit and plenty of it , but for the past three years it just blooms flowers but no fruit . I fertilize once a year with 10-10-10 and have it pruned in early spring. I just dont know why it stopped bearing fruit. I also dont know how to tell if it is a self pollinating tree or not , I assumed it was because it did bear fruit and there are no other plum trees around here. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank you ,
    Charlie

    • Sarah on said:

      What a puzzling situation with your plum tree, Charlie! My initial suspicion is that maybe there was once a plum tree nearby, which allowed for cross-pollination, but it is no longer there. Given the right conditions (weather, bees, etc.) a fruit tree can be pollinated by a compatible pollinator even if it is planted within a quarter-mile radius. If this is the case, you may want to consider planting another plum tree partner for your current tree (once the new tree is mature and blooming, of course).

      Speaking of bees, though, if there haven’t been many pollination-helpers around there to visit your plum tree’s flowers during bloom time, even if the tree is self-pollinating, it won’t set fruit. This can happen if your location gets sprayed with an insecticide in the spring, or if a spray gets carried over from a nearby location, or even the weather may affect the presence of these helpers.

      Many areas have also had back-to-back years of unusual spring weather (early spring, late frosts, extreme drought) that could attribute to the fact that your plum tree has not had a fruit crop recently.

      It’s difficult to determine why your tree has ceased to set fruit the past few years. If these issues aren’t likely, my suggestion would be to contact your County Extension service and speak with a local expert. They may be able to give you advice pertinent to your location and even come out and take a look at your tree and its environment.

      I’m thinking, since your tree sounds fine otherwise, that it is just lacking a pollinator, or that it has been the harsh recent weather and it’s something that will fix itself. In the meantime, I hope some of this helps!

  34. Harold on said:

    I have a contender peach tree four years old. In the second year it bore some fruit, about ten. Last year nothing. I assumed that because of our early Minnesota spring and then a hard freeze that the blossoms froze. This year we had a late spring and the tree has budded and has leaves, but many other buds which I assume to be the blossom buds formed and dried out not producing anything. I’ve taken good care of the tree andit appears to be disease free. C an you explain why it isn’t fruiting?

    • Sarah on said:

      Good question, Harold. There could be a number of factors at play here: sometimes when a tree sets a fruit crop, especially if it’s one of the first for a young tree, it may overbear. Even if it doesn’t seem like a lot of fruit to you, 10 might have overdid it for your young Contender Peach tree. Often, when a fruit tree overbears, it takes the next year off to rest and restore its energy. Last year was a harsh year across the board due to the early spring, late frosts, and then the drought. It could be that your tree didn’t get the recovery period that it needed, due to the stress of the season last year, and it was not inclined to try to set fruit this year as a result. In this case, you might continue to watch and care for your tree as you have been and see what next spring has in store.

      I had a similar instance with my peach tree. It barely grew, despite me watering it daily during last summer’s drought, and this year it had only one blossom. It just looked silly. I’m hoping that the weather levels out so that I can get a decent fruit crop from it next year!

  35. Ray on said:

    My apple trees and blackberries have narrow leaves growing out of the new shoots. They look as skinny as a willow leaf. This is only occurring on a few branches not the whole tree. What is causing this?

    • Sarah on said:

      It could be a number of things, Ray. Two of the top culprits could be: 1. a virus, or 2. herbicide damage. Herbicides (like grass/weed killers) will have more of an effect on new growth and leaves than older ones, especially after application.

      It would be helpful if we saw photos of the leaves you’re describing. If you can, please send any photos to us at info@starkbros.com — mention that you presented this issue on the blog so that it gets directed to me. :)

      Identifying and controlling a viral infection in your plants and trees is best left to local experts like your County Extension service.

      Simply refrain from continuing to use herbicides around your trees and plants if this may be the more likely cause. You can remove weeds with hand tools or use weed mats and mulch to keep weeds and grass from growing around your plants and trees.

      • Ray on said:

        I sent a couple of photos to the info@starkbros.com as well at the same time I posted on this blog. Let me know if that works.

        • Sarah on said:

          I received the photos, Ray, thank you! I’m sorry to say it’s still difficult to tell for sure, especially since it is affecting both the apple tree and the blackberry plant. If you (or a landscaper) are not using herbicide in your yard, I would have to encourage you to contact your local experts there to help advise you as to what is going on and how to treat it. They would be your best resource at this point, since they’re local!

  36. Jerry on said:

    Just got 2 year old dwarf trees, i was told to pinch blossoms next two years in a row for better production? Is this true and do i do all the blossoms?

    • Sarah on said:

      Chances are, depending on the type of fruit tree it is, it won’t produce a significant amount of flowers or fruit in the next two years while it’s getting established and maturing. The purpose of the first few seasons your new fruit trees are in the ground is for them to become established, healthy, trees. Fruit production should happen once they’re able to support a fruit crop.

      If they put on a few blossoms, you can leave those as a food source for bees or something, without having to worry too much. If they really bloom a lot and try to fruit while they’re still small, it will benefit the trees to remove the blossoms so that they put their energy into growing as a tree. Trees tend not to grow while they’re trying to set fruit, and fruit-development is a stress on a tree — this is why it’s best not to allow a fruit crop to develop while they’re young. Chances are, even if you leave the flowers and potential young fruit on your young trees in their first few years, the fruit will be subject to fruit-drop — a natural shedding process that is explained in our blog post here: http://www.starkbros.com/blog/shedding-light-on-fruit-drop/

  37. Becky Jenkins on said:

    I live in Hot Springs Arkansas and my husband four lower limbs off a Bartlett pear we have that is over 12 years old, that were in the way of the sprinkler and painted the ends. Now the tree has many of it’s leaves turning yellow and falling off, what did he do? What can we do to help the tree?

    • Sarah on said:

      I’m curious what the planting site looks like if the tree is already too close to a sprinkler. (I hope there isn’t a leak in the sprinkler system!) Yellowing leaves is often a sign of water-stress related to overwatering. A young fruit tree really only needs a gallon or so of water at a time every ~7 days. Older trees are familiar with the environment and, unless your area is experiencing a severe drought (like last year), it does not require additional watering. It will get by on natural rain and ground water. If it has been raining each week there in Arkansas, even a young tree does not need additional watering. If it has been very dry, watering as needed is recommended, but don’t overdo it.

      Other things to note: Were the 4 limbs removed large limbs (in circumference)? Any severe pruning should be done over the course of a few years to avoid shocking and overstressing a tree. Were these limbs removed after the tree had already leafed out — like this spring/summer? Small amounts of twig-maintenance may be done in the spring and summer, but any heavy pruning should be done when the tree is fully dormant — usually in the winter. This is a much more ideal time for maintenance to fruit trees.

  38. Pat on said:

    I have 3 apple trees planted about 15 feet apart from each other. The trees were all planted 14 years ago. Two of the trees produce fruit every year. The third tree looks healthy, BUT it has never produced a single flower. I’m starting to think that apple chips for the smoke house would be a good use for the tree!

    • Sarah on said:

      I know what you mean, Pat! In the photo above (also see it here: http://www.starkbros.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Semi-Dwarf-Apple-Row.jpg), our horticulturalists here believe that the row is not productive due to the close proximity of the trees. If either one of the trees in the middle were removed, the rest would be more productive as fruit-bearing trees.

      Your trees have the right spacing for typical semi-dwarf apple trees, but chances are they are competing for nutrients.

      I think there is one more thing you can try before cutting down your unproductive apple tree! Since you’ve already spent so much time and energy growing a healthy apple tree, what’s a couple more years, right? ;) I would recommend trying a fertilizer like Triple Super Phosphate next spring to encourage blossom development — unfortunately, it’s too late in the season to be fertilizing your trees at this point. This type of fertilizer won’t necessarily help produce flowers and fruit next year (2014), since these fruiting buds are already in development from your tree’s nutrients and energy stored this year (2013), but it should encourage your tree to use the nutrients and energy to bloom and fruit the following year (2015).

  39. amanda on said:

    i have two apple tree but the apples are green they never turn red or yellow and they stay at a very small size. what are they? are they safe to eat ?

    • Sarah on said:

      It’s really difficult to say what they are, Amanda. It may be a green apple variety that needs to be thinned so that the fruit gets larger. It may be a crabapple variety that simply has small green crabapples. It may be a seedling apple tree that just happens to have small green fruit. Without knowing anything about the tree, I can’t say it’s safe to eat, but most apple trees have a fruit that’s edible fresh. Crabapples included, although many types of crabapple are better off pickled, jellied, or otherwise cooked since they tend to be astringent. Do you have any photos of the tree and/or its fruit?

  40. mike on said:

    I have planted 3200 apples trees of 4 varieties: (Granny smith, Bouckeye Gala pink Lady and Scarlet spur II.

    All my trees are doing well except the Scarlet spur II I am not seeing the Apples colouring at all?? we are in Late august and the Apples did not even start colouring all.???

    The growth is exceptional and the trees are well pruned and well fertilized.

    I am a bit worried about the Spur type of my Trees and worried if I was scammed on the Type of the trees?
    anyone encountered this delay in colouring.

    Kindly your feedback.

    Regards

    • Sarah on said:

      I really wish I could be more help, Mike, but our growers here aren’t familiar with the Scarlet Spur II tree to advise with confidence on what to expect from it. I would highly recommend contacting the nursery or supplier about that variety and see if they can give you more information on what you should be seeing at this point.

  41. edna on said:

    I have a tangerine tree that had a lot of fruits last year, It has only 8 fruits What is wrong?

    • Sarah on said:

      We all tend to want our fruit trees to produce a whole lot of fruit every year, don’t we? ;) As long as it’s still healthy, nothing is wrong with your tangerine tree. Many fruit trees that produce a lot of fruit one year will need time to recuperate.

      Fruit production takes a lot of energy from a fruit tree, from blooming, to developing fruit, to ripening it. After overbearing, trees may produce a small amount of fruit, or no fruit at all, the next year. This is what is called “biennial bearing”. Vigorous producers, like the Golden Delicious Apple tree, are notorious for this.

      To prevent overbearing (as well as biennial bearing) in future years, be sure to thin the fruit so that a more modest amount is left on the tree to ripen. Just break up clusters and leave enough room between each remaining fruit to grow to its mature size. This will help to avoid overtaxing the energy of your tree and also help avoid fruit drop and other potential issues.

  42. Amy Beatty on said:

    Greetings,
    On a tour of my fruit trees yesterday I noticed that my honeycrisp apple has a dozen or more buds and blossoms. Should I pinch these off? What may have confused this tree?

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Amy. How has the weather been where the tree is growing? This occurrence was common last year with the intense heat and the drought. When there was a lot of heat and very little water, the trees didn’t grow much as a result. Then, when the temperatures cooled off in the fall and areas started to get a little more moisture, they were tricked into thinking it was spring and that they had been dormant before!

      I would recommend pinching off the blossoms for sure. They will most likely not amount to anything, and even if they do, they won’t have time before winter to develop.

      If you have been fertilizing at all, it would be best to stop any further fertilizer applications until next spring. This will avoid pushing new growth in your trees this late in the year when they should be shutting down instead.

  43. Patti on said:

    Hi..we have a pear tree that is loaded with small pears but the pears are falling off the tree way too soon…they are too little to fall off now..what seems to be wrong!! Losing fruit on it by the day!! thanks looking forward to your reply!!

    • Sarah on said:

      Now is the right time for most pears to be ready to harvest. If your tree’s fruit is “too small”, then the problem is most likely overbearing. A tree that has too much fruit on it usually drops the excess fruit in the early summer — but not always. Sometimes it simply distributes its limited energy to the large crop of fruit and they don’t get very large as a result.

      You might consider thinning the fruit in the future (late spring, early summer). Just break up any fruit clusters and leave enough space between the remaining fruit to get to its intended mature size. This should help your tree have a more modest crop of larger fruit that you can enjoy!

    • Sarah on said:

      Also: if you’re wondering about how to harvest and ripen your pears (there is a difference) you can read about it in this article: http://www.starkbros.com/blog/pears-ready-to-harvest/

  44. Darrel on said:

    Hi

    I have a mature Peach tree that the fruit seem to grow together so basically it looks like 2 peaches stuck together at the bottom , both have pits in them but are together

    Any idea?

    • Sarah on said:

      That’s not uncommon, Darrel. The same thing happens with some of the fruit on my peach trees. I usually just pull these off when I’m thinning the fruit in the spring/early summer (to keep the tree from overbearing). They’re sort of like “twins” if you think about it; fruit clusters that are better off broken up early on. The fruit doesn’t have much room to grow and mature properly. It tends to drop on its own before that point.

      • Darrel on said:

        seems my whole tree is nothing but twins, The will ripen and don’t drop off
        been doing this for 2 years now .

  45. Glen on said:

    Hey Guys,
    I bought two apple tree’s last year a Fuji and another one you recommended as a pollinator. The second apple tree has already bloomed and the apples have small brown spots on the skin. Should I remove these apples and blooms? The tree’s have grown so rapidly (not complaining) but I thought it took three to five years before I would see fruit. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Glen! If your young apple tree is already setting fruit in its first year in the ground with you, the best thing to do is remove the fruit and blossoms that develop. It’s always in the best interest of a new tree to allow it to become established before expecting or allowing fruit set. It usually takes about 2 years after you plant the tree for an apple tree to begin bearing, and its crops get progressively better as the tree matures. This establishment period helps improve the overall health of the tree as well as the quality of future fruit!

  46. Sandra Clifford on said:

    I have had my lemon tree for over 3 years. The first year I had about 10 lemons. This Spring it bloomed, but dropped all the blooms. Now it is November 4th, and I have lots of blooms and two small lemons forming. I live in Atlanta, and we have had the same strange cold snap, then warm weather, now cold again, so I believe that the tree is confused. The tree is potted, and I can move it inside when we have a frost, but I am not sure what to do. Should I allow the blooms to stay, or should I pinch them back and hope it will return to a normal cycle? At what temperature should I move it inside?
    Thanks so much.

    • Sarah on said:

      It is fairly normal for citrus trees like lemons to bloom more than once in a year. It’s even common when they’re grown in pots. Citrus trees don’t really have a need to go dormant like other fruit trees, which would act as a sort of “internal clock” telling them when to bloom in a more predictable fashion, like peaches. Citrus even tends to bloom while they are still set with fruit at different stages of ripening.

      I do recommend bringing the tree in from outdoors if cold temperatures are setting in. Citrus doesn’t do too well when temperatures are below 55-60ºF, and it is notorious for dropping leaves, blossoms, and fruit at the slightest sign of stress, such as temperature change or too much/little water.

  47. Mark on said:

    [URL=http://s745.photobucket.com/user/91GT347/media/Mobile%20Uploads/image_zps1ab9a412.jpg.html][IMG]http://i745.photobucket.com/albums/xx93/91GT347/Mobile%20Uploads/image_zps1ab9a412.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
    I have 3 citrus trees. From left in the pic, a lemon grown from seed out of a grocery store lemon. A dwarf lime which always produced a lot of good fruit, and a dwarf orange. Which is about 4 years old, and never produced fruit.I have a couple questions. The lemon and the orange this year got started getting really tall branches, as you can see. Should these be trimmed down ? The orange is almost too tall to put in the garage. Which is where we put them in winter, to keep the frost away. This brings me to my second question. we would like to plant them in the ground, and put a clear roof over them in winter to keep the frost off. We had them on our porch during the winter in Maryland, and they did quite well in the winter. As long as frost wasn’t directly on them. We live in the very SE part of North Carolina now. Just above Myrtle Beach, SC. In a subtropical climate. Will they be OK planted in the ground here, if we put them under a clear, carport type structure in the winter ?

    • Mark on said:

      Well the img code didn’t work. So here’s a direct link to a pic.
      http://i745.photobucket.com/albums/xx93/91GT347/Mobile%20Uploads/image_zps1ab9a412.jpg
      I also forgot to ask why the lime would suddenly stop producing. Thanks for your time, and knowledge.

      • Sarah on said:

        Citrus, especially limes, are more encouraged to bloom and fruit with regular heat and sun. This is sort of the opposite from other types of fruit trees who use cold temperatures and dormancy to determine their production and fruiting in the following growing season.

        I’m not sure if this year was cooler for you there, or if your lime tree didn’t get adequate sun or heat to encourage it to bloom. As long as it’s still healthy (and it appears healthy from your photo!) it should “warm up” to fruiting again! :)

    • Sarah on said:

      I see what you mean about the tall growth, Mark! In general, citrus trees don’t require regular pruning except to remove damaged/diseased limbs, but you can also trim back the limbs of citrus trees to maintain balance and shape.

      I know you said the citrus did well on your porch over winter in Maryland as long as the frost stayed off them, but it’s always best to aim for “optimum” and plan for what is ideal for plants and trees, especially if you want to expect regular production from them. I don’t think citrus will thrive if planted in the ground there. You can always seek out your local county Extension professionals for advice as well! Find the contact information for the one nearest you here: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/county/index.html

      The type of environment citrus trees typically thrive in is consistently sunny — places like Southern Florida, Texas, and California (where citrus is known to grow well) tend to have consistent day lengths, while more northern locations have longer days in summer and shorter days in winter. Citrus trees are also used to humidity in the air and ground that doesn’t freeze.

      I’m not sure if these conditions are reflected in your subtropical climate there. If the carport type structure you have in mind is more like a “cold frame” used in gardening, it may be able to trap some necessary heat, but it’ll need more than just a roof in that case.

  48. Bob on said:

    Hi,
    I live in Maryland and I have an orange tree that that I bought as a sprig about 12 years ago and is now about 6’ tall. I have repotted it three times over the years and it is now in a 10 gallon pot. I leave it on the patio during the summer where it gets plenty of sunshine and I bring it indoors (in front of a south facing window) in late October for the winter months. It produces new growth and I prune the tree every year to shape it but it never produces blossoms. Is there anything I should do to promote blossoms? Also, the branches produce long needle spikes. I have never seen that on a fruit tree. Is this normal?

    • Sarah on said:

      One of the lesser-known things about citrus trees is that they tend to have thorns. Orange trees, tangerines, limes, etc. can have thorns that are large enough to prune off if you want to avoid the ouch factor! :) I’ve grown meyer lemon trees that had no thorns, so it’s not a trait for all citrus varieties, but it’s not uncommon.

      Light and warmth are key components to a citrus tree blooming, so as long as you maintain what you’ve been doing so far, your tree is in good shape. Another thing with citrus trees, when grown in containers, is that they are more likely to bloom once their roots have met the inside edges of their pot. They don’t need a deep container; a wider, shallow one will do. I’m not sure how long your orange tree has been in its current container, but if it still has room to spread its roots, that could be why it hasn’t bloomed yet.

      If you are fertilizing your orange tree, it’s important to note that most fertilizers tend to be high in nitrogen, which helps produce leaves and branches, but that is sometimes at the expense of flower and fruit production. If you are using a high-nitrogen fertilizer*, I would suggest holding off on it for a while. There are blossom-encouraging fertilizers that you can try to see if it helps.

      *Packaged fertilizers often display an “N-P-K” value: 10-10-10 is an example of a balanced fertilizer. The first number represents Nitrogen. The middle number would represent Phosphate, which promotes root and blossom development.

      I hope this helps give you an idea of where to start with getting your orange tree to bloom! You can also try contacting your local garden center to see if they have any more advice for you about getting your tree to bloom.

  49. Steph on said:

    My flowering apricot is in its second spring. It bloomed a little last year, but this year it was covered in flower buds that never opened. They just dried on the branches. Was this due to all the rain and cold we had in NC? What can we do to prep for next year? Thanks!

    • Sarah on said:

      I would say, since this has been an unusually cold winter, it was the cold that got to the flower buds before they could bloom. Apricot trees are some of the earliest — and prettiest — bloomers in the spring but, unfortunately, flower buds are sensitive to cold temperatures and frosts.

      I’m hoping that we won’t have to deal with such a winter next year, but, if it looks like things will be bitter cold again, you may consider wrapping your tree to insulate it. Some people literally cover the branches of their trees in burlap and straw (you might have seen this — they look like landscape lollipops!).

      Depending on how tall your tree is, you may also be able to construct a temporary cage around the tree and stuff straw inside it to keep it in place. Straw is a great insulator and it’s lightweight, fairly inexpensive, and repels water. I’d recommend contacting your local garden center experts for even more tips. There are likely a lot of handy things you can try!

  50. Rod Gibbs on said:

    I recently bought and planted several varieties of young fruit tree whips from Stark Bros. They are right now beginning to bud. We are expecting one night with temps in the mid to upper teens with the next night being in the mid twenties. Will this damage or kill my trees? The trees I have planted are apples, plums, peaches, a filbert, currant, 2 paw paws, and a gooseberry. A quick response would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Sarah on said:

      Since the plants and trees are young, they won’t be developing fruit/flower buds this spring — these buds are much more sensitive to frost and freezing temperatures.

      The vegetative buds you’re seeing are less prone to damage, so they should be fine. If the plants and trees had already leafed out, you might be concerned about damage happening to the tender foliage, but, even if that happens, the plants and trees will still be able to replace the damaged growth this growing season.

      Be sure your plants and trees have 2-3 inches of mulch around them to insulate their root systems. This will help protect the roots, which are important in the overall health of the plant or tree — and how well it survives the effects of the weather and the environment.

  51. Debbie on said:

    My fruit trees produce many blossoms but very little fruit. My suspicion is that the spraying for mosquitos by the county that occurs at about the same time the trees are in full bloom is the culprit. The mosquito program consists of a truck that drives by once a week spraying the insecticide. Is it possible that the spray is killing my pollinators? My trees are set very close to the road; my neighbors who have younger trees set well back from the road have plenty of fruit. I used to see tons of bees around my garden but in the last two years they seem to have disappeared and when they do appear it is fairly late in the summer. I wonder if the timing of when they spray could be killing off all the bees? What do you think?

    • Sarah on said:

      I’m not sure what the mosquito program is spraying to control the mosquito population, but I would recommend contacting them to see what they have to say. If the mosquito trucks don’t come around in the summer when your bee population comes around, that might be a good indicator that the chemical they’re spraying is repelling your bees.

      An insecticide won’t know the difference between a pest and a beneficial insect — which is why even sprays intended for use on fruit trees specifically mention not using them while trees are in bloom. The absence of bees around your garden is highly likely why your trees bloom profusely but you see no fruit.

      Like mentioned in the above article, another major reason fruit trees will bloom but produce no fruit is if they don’t have varieties that will pollinate them growing nearby. I just wanted to mention it again in order to consider alternative reasons why your trees may not be productive.

  52. Jess on said:

    Two questions. First, I have a meyer lemon tree that seems to be doing great and undergoes massive blooms that shortly thereafter develop into very small lemons. However, when they are about 1 cm long they all fall off the tree. This cycle had now occured about five times and despite changing the water and feeding schedule the same thing continues to occur. Any thoughts on what I can do to get the lemens ot develop into fully formed fruit?

    The second question is that I have a supreme dwarf contender peach tree I purchased from stark brothers last year. The tree seems to be doing great and is absolutely loaded with flowers this spring. Is there actually a chance I will get peaches this year?

    Thanks, Jess

    • Sarah on said:

      What a productive lemon tree, Jess! Lemon trees, and other citrus trees, can be sensitive to changes in temperature, available water, and nutrients, and they often respond to stress by dropping their flowers, fruit, and/or leaves. Fruit drop is a naturally occurrence in many fruit trees. It can happen when trees are developing more fruit than they are able to support. If you thin the small lemons so that only a few remain on the tree, chances are better that the tree will put effort into supporting them to a ripened state. I hope this helps!

      If your peach trees are blooming and you’re not expecting any damaging late-season frosts, there is a good chance your peach tree will have a fruit crop this year! Coming from an area where most of our peach trees’ fruit buds got damaged by the harsh winter, I’ll try not to be too jealous. ;)

  53. Mitch on said:

    I have several Stark apple trees that are in their 2nd and 3rd ‘leaf’ here in Maryland. I have picked the blooms off of these trees to encourage regular cropping as they mature. This year, on some of the 3rd leaf trees I see an abundance of blooms and I wonder when do I let these blooms mature through their usual process (without picking them off). Can you offer some advice?

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Mitch! Apple trees tend to take 2-5 years (after planting in your yard) before they should start fruiting. Your trees in their second and third leaf with you should have no problem being allowed to set a fruit crop this year! Great job on doing what’s best for your young fruit trees. :)

      Once the young fruit sets, if your trees look like they may be overbearing, you can always thin the young fruit, leaving 4-6 inches between remaining fruit and breaking up any clusters. This helps to avoid issues like breaking limbs, fruit drop, and biennial bearing (trees bearing one year and resting the next) later on.

      • Mitch on said:

        Thank You so much for your timely reply. I am quite excited with the new orchard I started three years ago. Very satisfied with Stark’s help and advice over the years.

  54. Anthony on said:

    I bought two fruit trees one peach one nectarine they are both about 7 ft with 1 1/4 in caliper they had started to show leaf buds I guess then we had 2 late frost and the buds withered up Are my trees dead if not will they leaf out this year. I know they won’t fruit wher I bought them they said they were about a year or so away from fruiting. Please help Frustrated gardener

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Anthony!

      We just posted a blog article on a simple test you can try to to tell if your trees are still living here: How to do a Scratch Test.

      I’m hoping you find that their leaves got nipped by frost and that the trees themselves are doing well. They should still leaf out later during the growing season if that’s the case. :)

  55. Steve Ramsey on said:

    Peach trees not blooming! – the harder than usual winter must have done me in. Fortunately they are leafing out, mostly. Should I prune off the ends of the branches that are not leafing out? Should I prune now, or later in the season? Or should I just give up and go to Kroger’s for peaches instead?!?

    • Sarah on said:

      I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get to enjoy your peach trees blooming this spring, Steve — this past winter was especially hard on their fruiting buds. If you notice that the limb tips are showing no signs of life/growth, you can prune them back. This helps to remove “dead weight” and also keeps your peach trees’ limbs from becoming too lanky. Peach trees actually respond well to summer pruning, so they’ll appreciate it, too! :)

  56. Dan Lyons on said:

    I have a Meyer lemon tree which is approximately 6 feet high it has been in the ground for 3 years and I have no knowledge of the mainTain it. it develops over a hundred buds and blossoms, but they all disappeared. I found that a bird in the tree and that perhaps it may have eaten the buds. Is this possible? HAand and is there a way to force a second reading of the tree this late in the season? Please help because the tree probably need pruning but I have no idea how to proceed carefully and I do not want to lose the tree.
    thing that.

    • Sarah on said:

      Although you can’t really force your tree to bloom again, citrus trees have a tendency to bloom even while they have fruit ripening on the tree — it is in their nature both to be slow to ripen fruit and also bloom more than once in a given year. If you are in a consistently warm climate, this is more likely to happen than if you had your tree indoors or in a pot somewhere more northern.

      Blossoms will drop naturally after they expire. It is true that pests (and birds are included in this category) do sometimes eat the blossoms of a fruit tree, so the bird may be your culprit here. You might want to place a net over your tree after the bird leaves to deter it from happening again. Make sure the net has spaces for bees and other pollination helpers to get through to move pollen from flower to flower, but small enough to keep birds out.

      If your tree blooms again and still does not fruit, its flowers are not becoming pollinated. If bees and other beneficials are not visiting your lemon tree when it’s blooming, you can take a small paintbrush or cotton swab and collect the pollen from one flower and dab it into the next flower to manually pollinate your tree. Many indoor citrus growers do this to successfully produce fruit.

      I hope this helps!

  57. Bruce petway on said:

    Have 7-8 year old peach trees, believe red haven. They haven’t produced any……. Fruit yet. They are beautifully pruned for light and circulation, good vase design. Soil tested, it was fine. I even have two bee hives on site. I have yet to see a bee on a bloom yet, and trees are full of bloom in the spring, just don’t make fruit. Good spacing in my orchard, drains well, direct sun. You would think they have ideal conditions, I take very good care of my trees. I’m just frustrated, is it time for the chainsaw And tractor and replant. I don’t want to do that if I don’t have too, a lot of time and effort invested…. Please help…

    • Sarah on said:

      This is a tough one, Bruce. You’re doing practically everything I would have recommended short of hand-pollinating the flowers yourself with a small paint brush.

      If the bees aren’t even visiting your trees while they are in bloom, that’s a little unusual. You didn’t mention anything about spraying your trees for pests, but as long as you’re not spraying while they are in bloom, it shouldn’t pose a problem — unless you’re near a field that might be getting sprayed for pests and drifting over to your peach trees. Even if your bees aren’t visiting your trees, other native beneficials and even the wind should play a part in the pollination.

      I’m also wondering if the peach trees you planted are all the same variety? If it happened to all be one variety like Hal-berta peach, which is not self-pollinating, the trees may be in need of a compatible pollinator. If they are all the same variety, I would recommend planting a different tree for cross-pollination just in case your trees aren’t the self-pollinating type — it’s rare but not impossible. I’d rather you try that than have to chop the trees down!

      • bruce petway on said:

        thank you for responding Sarah, I haven’t sprayed any insecticides this year because of the bees. I have red haven semi-dwarf , which are actually supposed to be self fertile. I have two of them, they are big and beautiful trees, well spaced and shaped for proper fruit growing. I have the original tags from the nursery, they show white blooms on the display. Mine have huge pink blooms, nearly two inches across. it looks like a peach is trying to make in the center of the bloom, but it then just wilts and falls off the tree. should I try cutting the roots at the dripline or scoring the trunk… help please…. thanks, Bruce

        • Sarah on said:

          Root pruning and scoring would help encourage blooming in your trees, but that doesn’t seem to be the issue. They sound like they bloom just fine.

          If the fruit begins to form and then shrivels and drops off, then it’s usually caused by a late cold snap getting to the young sensitive fruit, or the flowers are not being adequately pollinated (and therefore the fruit is aborted). This goes back to me wondering why the bees aren’t interested in your tree’s blooms. It seems like the lack of proper pollination is the most likely issue here.

  58. Sonny Swift on said:

    We have a mature apple tree in fact my husband planted 75 apple trees different kinds of them about 10-15 years ago one of our nicer trees which has in the past beared fruit hasn’t for it’s 3rd year. Trees around it are bearing well. We compost our soil/garden with grass clippings ect and aged manure from our barns. We were told to not trim it the first year that,- there were no blooms,- then the next year lightly trim it still no blooms – and this year trim it heavy still no blooms. We were also told that Juniper plants can cause fruit trees to not bloom but this tree isn’t even close but we did take out our biggest Juniper bush. The soil tested fine. I have no idea on the type of apple tree it is because it’s been so long since we have even seen one apple on it. Three years ago one bloom but a wind storm blew it off. If you have any ideas please let us know

    • Sarah on said:

      Two things stick out to me here. The aged manure and grass clippings are likely putting nitrogen in the soil around your trees. While each tree will respond in its own way to the available nutrients, nitrogen is known for developing vegetative growth (leaves and branches), but not developing flowers (blossoms and fruit). In this case, I would recommend maybe skipping the apple tree that hasn’t fruited for the past 3 years when you and your husband spread the organic matter around the garden.

      The other thing I would like to mention is that regular pruning helps to keep the trees in balance. Removing damaged, diseased, and dead limbs is always beneficial so that the trees aren’t supporting “dead weight” and it helps to clean up and avoid spread of disease. Removing crossing limbs, narrow crotch angles, and limbs growing in toward the center of the tree helps avoid damage to the tree and helps keep it open to light and air circulation. Light is an important element in the development of “fruiting wood” in a fruit tree, and is also important in the quality of the fruit that develops later. It’s best to prune regularly every year. Heavy pruning often encourages the tree to develop more vegetative growth to replace what it has “lost”, which is good, but this new growth requires more time to mature from vegetative wood into fruiting wood.

      These things, along with the tips mentioned in the article, should help you encourage your apple tree to bloom and fruit for you like it used to. :)

  59. Susan on said:

    Dear Sarah,
    I have potted citrus trees, lemon, orange, and tangerine. Here’s my problem, once the trees bear fruit they die. This is my third try at growing citrus trees. They will grow to a good size and look very healthy. But every time One of them bears fruit, after we’ve picked the fruit, the tree dies. What is causing this and how can I fix it?
    Susan

    • Sarah on said:

      I haven’t heard of a healthy citrus tree just dying after it fruits Susan, I’m sorry. I don’t really know how large or mature the citrus trees were, so I can only think that the trees weren’t actually dead (maybe they were just losing their leaves from the stress of bearing fruit?) or maybe they were too young to support a fruit crop and die as a result. Both things could be remedied by letting the trees grow and develop as trees before you allow them to bloom or fruit.

      I would like to recommend contacting your local county cooperative extension and see if they can give you any more advice. There may be something I’m missing because I don’t know much about the trees or where they were planted, but these experts will be able to provide advice on a local level that may be useful to you. You can find the contact information for your extension here:
      http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

      I wish you luck and hope this helps!

  60. Kevin on said:

    I’ve two Cherry trees 2 and 5 years since I planted, both seem very healthy, lot’s of leaves, but no flowers [a handful on one of them].

    I read your tips and this sounds like an ‘overfeeding’ problem – but I’ve only fed them once.

    Any thoughts welcome!

    • Sarah on said:

      The trees may be getting extra nitrogen from the soil as well. You can get a good idea of what’s naturally occurring in your soil with a soil sample test.

      This spring, you might try the root pruning method that’s described in the above article. It could help jolt your healthy trees into being healthy and productive trees next spring. :)

      “Root pruning: Bring a spade or shovel out to the drip line of your trees. The drip line is where the tips of the branches are, but straight down on the ground. Take the spade or shovel and push it straight into the ground and pull it straight back out. Do not dig out any dirt. Move over a foot or two and repeat the process. You are essentially creating a dotted-line circle around your tree’s root system, which will clip the feeder roots and “shock” the tree into blooming during the next growing season.”

  61. jon on said:

    I have a 6 yr old orchard of different kinds of apple trees. The ground is somewhat clayish, however, when I planted the trees I loosened up the soil. Three of the four trees has random flowers on a few branches. What could be the cause?

    • Sarah on said:

      It sounds like your trees are blooming, Jon! :) Since I feel like I may be missing something, what is concerning you about the flowers?

  62. Steve Ramseu on said:

    I have a couple of plum trees, selected as pollinators for each other, and they bloom heavily each spring. Most of the flowers appear to be forming fruit–then suddenly they all die and drop off, and the fruit that has begun to form turns brown. I don’t spray–but alas, my neighbor the farmer does, with a general herbicide several weeks ago, well before I noticed the problem.
    Is the herbicide the most likely culprit? Are there other possible causes? Any possible solutions?
    Thanks!

    • Sarah on said:

      Herbicide drift is certainly a prime suspect in damage to fruit trees, especially in rural areas. It can harm the flowers as well as the foliage, not to mention it may ward off beneficials like bees and butterflies that are crucial in carrying pollen from flower to flower — for adequate pollination and fruit development.

      A few other things that could affect the fruit and cause it to drop early are:
      • inadequate pollination (enough to develop but not mature fruit)
      • frost/late cold snaps (blossoms/fruit are more sensitive)
      • tree maturity (young trees are more likely to drop fruit)
      • overbearing (too much fruit to sustain; tree sheds fruit)

      If you notice that there aren’t many bees or other insects that would be carrying the pollen between flowers, between trees, then spray drift may be repelling them. I’m not sure how close you are with your neighbor, but you might consider sharing your concerns with his spraying and your fruit trees. Inadequate pollination is also possible in trees that have been damaged over winter or during late spring frosts/cold snaps. In this case, allowing more time and a more favorable winter/spring is the solution.

      If your trees had initially set a lot of small fruit that eventually dropped, and you haven’t had any late cold snaps since the trees started blooming, and you also haven’t noticed any issues with the foliage (herbicide drift usually also affects the leaves), then it might even be from more natural causes. Fruit production is a stress, especially on young trees, and fruit trees that “overbear” have a tendency to drop their fruit before it matures. This can be helped by thinning the fruit next year. For plum trees, we recommend breaking up clusters of young fruit when it is still small and leaving about 4-6 inches between the remaining fruit. This “lightens the load” on a plum tree and allows it to support and ripen a smaller crop rather than prematurely shedding the fruit.

  63. Michael defillippo on said:

    Hi , I have a beautiful fig tree that has been in the ground a couple of years and was only a clipping when we started t out ..last year it grew to triple is size and gave us a lot of figs and was green and beautiful , this year however it is bear to the bone ..no leaves no nothing !! What happened ??? We love this tree please help !

    • Sarah on said:

      How was your winter, Michael? I’m thinking that if it was unusually harsh there, it likely affected your fig tree’s growth. Is your fig tree just leafless and still living or has it died? If you try a scratch test on the trunk of the tree, you can find out if it’s still living. Learn how to do a scratch test here:
      http://www.starkbros.com/blog/how-to-do-a-scratch-test/

      If you find that your fig tree is still living, give it some more time this growing season to put on leaves. Even if it is living, it will probably not try to fruit this year, especially after a stress like developing a heavy crop last year and then facing a harsh winter. I hope this helps!

  64. Lori on said:

    My peach tree which is five years old and produces hundreds of pears every year did not bloom and alot of the branches in center just died off. We had a very very bad winter and I didn’t get a chance to prune last fall. Should I prune dead branches, there are alot. Will it produce next year. My plum tree is doing great, but the apple tree also didnt bloom alot but some. The apple tree didn’t have any dead limbs, just seem to affect my peach tree. Should I prune it or just get rid of it, completely.

    • Sarah on said:

      Many peach trees took this past winter really hard. They are different from other types of fruit trees, so it’s not a surprise your apple and plum trees are responding differently. Pruning out the dead branches of your peach tree will do it two favors:
      1. It will remove dead weight that is a strain on the tree to support.
      2. Pruning back to living growth stimulates new healthy growth (to replace the branches that have died) that will be able to fruit in future years — as long as the weather is kinder.

      I would recommend getting rid of the dead limbs as soon as possible, especially since there is no benefit to leaving them there. There is no reason to completely get rid of the tree unless the entire thing is dead. :)

  65. Valerie Wells on said:

    Hi and Good Afternoon,
    I have a 6-7 year old Elberta Peach tree that produced about 200 fruit this season. An amazing event as no one else seems to have survived the frost. (I tarp the base during the last few freezes). The problem is, the peaches should be about the size of a plum by now, and by all accounts they haven’t grown at all in the last 3-4 weeks. ( They’re about the size of a small apricot/green.) Now the leaves look limp. I have been hand watering for about 20 minutes once a week. In times past when I watered, I would notice the fruit practically increase overnight. This isn’t happening. I’m worried something is wrong with the tree. I didn’t fertilize this year. It has gotten hot ( I live in Albuquerque, NM.)Any advice would be helpful.

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Valerie — there may be a few things at work here. Keep in mind, your peach tree is still on the tail-end of surviving a stressful winter and spring, so it may not respond as it would in previous years. This includes its ability to support such a large fruit crop. If you haven’t thinned the fruit of your peach tree, it is likely that it’s overbearing. Overbearing is one common occurrence that affects fruit size, and thinning helps improve the size of the remaining fruit. I won’t get too much further into this in my comment, but you can read about the benefits of thinning fruit here.

      Wilting leaves at the ends of the limbs may be a sign of a twig-boring pest like Oriental Fruit Moth. If this is what you’re seeing, you may need to prune the affected limbs back below the damage and consider a regular spray routine for pests. If it is a pest issue, it could also be the cause of the underdeveloped fruit. Oriental Fruit Moth damages the fruit, resulting in a clear substance oozing out of a puncture mark in the fruit’s skin. If you notice a half-moon shaped mark in the surface of the fruit, the pest may be Plum Curculio Beetles. The best initial time to spray for these pests is in early spring just after petal fall, when the new fruit begins to develop. A routine spray throughout the season will prevent pests from damaging the fruit later on as well.

      Now, if the wilting, limp leaves are all over the tree, it is likely a sign of environmental stress. This could be caused by intense heat (staying in the triple-digits during the day), over- or under-watering, or nutrient imbalance. It’s difficult to advise without seeing the tree, but if you notice any discoloration, spotting, splotching, or deformed/small-sized leaves, this will help you determine if it is something like a nutrient deficiency, disease, etc.

      If your area has rain in the forecast, you shouldn’t need to provide any additional water for your peach tree. Unless you were otherwise advised by a local expert to hand-water weekly, you shouldn’t need to be a regular source of water for your mature peach tree. There are exceptions to this, of course, like seasons with drought, or if your tree is growing in a fast-draining sandy type soil that requires frequent watering and the rain isn’t sufficient.

      I hope you can use this information to help your peach tree if you find that any of it applies to what you’re seeing. :)

  66. Beth on said:

    I planted, spring 2013, several Starks trees. Plum, peach, Asian pear, cherry. They all took immediately and had a vigorous 1st growing season, leafing, putting out new branches, etc…everything I’ve had Starks trees do in the past. However , With very few exceptions, I have virtually no growth at all this summer and one plum died completely. We had a tough winter in Maine, admittedly. What I do have are shoots coming up from the root stock. Only 2 of 8 trees show any life at all from above the graft. They are all appropriate for our zone 5 location. What should I do? Tend to the trees whose root stocks are alive? Start over? Thoughts, please?!

    • Sarah on said:

      This past harsh winter and fickle spring was a huge stress for many fruit trees — especially young ones. Unfortunately, if the trees you are growing succumbed to the elements and are only growing from the rootstock, it would not be worth your time trying to nurse the rootstock growth along. Rootstocks are not selected for characteristics like fruit quality or production, so your time and effort would be better spent on removing the dead trees and replacing them with new fruit trees.

      If your trees are still covered by our one-year warranty, our customer support team will be able to work with you regarding replacements. Please contact our team at 800.325.4180 to see what your options are. Thanks! :)

  67. Preston Jackson on said:

    I have a fugi persimmon tree planted March 2010 that turns out to be a beautiful tree. It seems to bloom but no fruit yet. What could be possibly be wrong? The trees is about 15 feet high.

    Thanks,
    Preston Jackson

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Preston — I wondered the same thing about my Ichi persimmon tree this spring. It had a ton of blooms on it earlier on, but they never amounted to anything. I think my tree’s issue was that it got hit with a late frost and the flowers were zapped. Maybe this happened to your tree as well?

      If you haven’t noticed any frost or cold snaps around the time your Fuyu persimmon is blooming, the problem could be that it isn’t getting pollinated. That was another thing I noticed with my persimmon tree: Nothing was really out and about the flowers while it was blooming, so I think they didn’t get pollinated on top of being zapped by frost.

      I would recommend waiting to see how things go next spring: if your tree is getting hit with late frost while it blooms — or if you don’t see any bees, butterflies, etc. visiting your trees to spread pollen — you’ll have your answer. If it turns out that lack of pollinating insects is the issue, you might want to try luring bees to your planting site with something like mason bee nests, flowers, clover ground cover, etc.

      Note: If you or a neighbor is spraying for pests while your tree is blooming, this will repel any potential pollinating insects.

  68. Rita Zufolo on said:

    Hi ! i have this italian plum tree for about 8 years i get lots of flowers and lot more fruit but everything falls down this year to ,, i do not have one fruit left all is down on grown!! now i talked to you guys before i said i want to cut it down you said no !!do not know what to do do i need to spray it and i like to know when and what to use please help.thank you

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Rita — have you tried any of the methods recommended in this article? I would highly recommend thinning the fruit in early spring (late May, early June). You may end up with a smaller amount of fruit, but it is better than none.

      Fruit trees, like plum trees, tend to overproduce flowers with the intention that some of them will be damaged through the natural course of things (animals, weather, etc.). Even if they get pollinated and begin to develop into fruit, you don’t have to allow ALL of it to remain on the tree. It’s very stressful and the tree will drop what it can’t handle.

      You can read more about the benefits of thinning fruit here.

  69. Brent on said:

    I am having a terrible time with Japanese Beetles on my cherry trees. The poor things are only last years and this years trees. They were growing wonderfully and now have almost no leaf structure left. My elderberries are having just as difficult time with these beetles. What natural and preferably organic remedies would you recommend

    • Sarah on said:

      One natural defense against Japanese beetles eating your favorite plants and trees is to plant something they prefer instead. I know from experience that they like roses, grape leaves, plum leaves, and raspberry leaves here — they leave my other plants and trees virtually untouched! ;)

      But, since that option may not be ideal, there are other methods of dealing with Japanese beetles. You may see Japanese beetle traps at your local garden center, but these are somewhat controversial in the gardening world. They may lure in more beetles than they can trap, so, if you do opt to use traps, you might want to place them somewhere other than your yard so that they are lured away from the foliage you are trying to protect.

      There are several methods you can try without resorting to chemical control. I recommend checking out this article about Japanese beetle control for a few good options to try.

      • RLM on said:

        We have found the beneficial nematodes sold by organic pest control companies to do a wonderful job in reducing Japenese beetle numbers – but the BEST control has been poultry.

        Not an option for many in urban areas, but with backyard chickens becoming more popular, it is worth considering. We call our chickens and shake the branches, and they go for them. Keep in mind that chickens artificially hatched may need to learn to eat bugs and do other things they would have learned from a hen.

        A shallow tray, or even a child’s wadding pool (depending on the size of the tree) full of soapy water (or dish detergent)placed under the branches before you shake them vigorously can help, too – as these pests tend to fall when disturbed, before flying away. Hand picking and dropping them into soapy water is another useful method.

        For more info on natural and organic approaches, search for experts in that area. Stark Brothers is a wonderful company, but they aren’t organic.

  70. Tim on said:

    What’s the best time for scoring or root pruning?

    Also, what’s your recommendation for moving trees? When, how?
    For example, if these are planted too close or in a poor soil location.

    • Sarah on said:

      Remember: scoring and root-pruning are last-ditch efforts to get your tree to bear! Try the other recommended methods first. More often than not, a tree is unfruitful because it is not mature enough to fruit.

      If you have to resort to scoring or root-pruning your trees, this should be done in early spring. You can do it later in the growing season as well, keeping in mind it will affect next year’s crop. There is no reliable method to force a tree to flower or fruit in the same season that the method was attempted, since fruit bud development is a process.

      As for moving/transplanting, the younger and smaller the tree, the better chances it has at surviving. Moving a tree should be done when it is dormant. You need to gather as much of the root system as possible, keeping it intact. A healthy root system is in balance with the top growth of the tree, so the larger and more wide-spread the branches are, the bigger the rootball will be underground. Keeping the root system intact helps maintain this balance when the tree is transplanted, and will improve the chances of survival when the tree wakes up.

  71. Sharon Karpinski on said:

    How do you prune a persimmon? I’ve got a 10 year old Proc that, in terms of shape, looks more like a Lombardy Poplar than a persimmon. I also have three much younger persimmons (two Yates and another Proc) that I haven’t a clue as to how to shape properly. All three of those trees are 2-4 years old.

    • Sarah on said:

      The tall, columnar shape is not an unusual structure for American Persimmon trees to have (as you can see here) but, if you want your 10-year-old tree, or your new trees, to have more of a “tree shape”, then you can try correcting this through limb spreading and pruning.

      First, especially with the younger trees, try using limb spreaders. You can do this now while the trees are still awake and flexible. You can use tree limb spreaders like these or tie weights to string and then tie the string to the branches to bend them out and away from the central leader (trunk) of the tree.

      If you find that the limbs are too large or mature to be pliable, limb-spreaders may not be ideal, and pruning can help. You should save any heavy/intensive pruning for when the trees are dormant. Prune out any limbs that have narrow/weak angles (45º from the trunk is ideal), and remove any branches that point inward toward the center of the tree.

      You may find that altering the trees’ overall shape is an easier task with your younger persimmons, so don’t feel discouraged if the older tree still seems more columnar than the rest.

  72. Frank Smith on said:

    I have a Stark 2 in 1 pear tree in its second year. When spring came, the tree bloomed and even set some fruit. A few weeks latter the fruit was dried up, and the grafted pear branch had died. The tree has leaves at the end of each stubby branch on the main trunk, but the branches did not grow longer, i.e. no new growth. It’s just sort of sitting there looking awful. It’s had plenty of water this season, and been fertilized with slow release organics. Any ideas?

    • Sarah on said:

      Do you know what caused the fruit to dry up? Did the branch become damaged or did something else happen to the tree (harsh weather — too hot or too cold or too wet, environmental issue — possibly with the soil, was it injured by lawn equipment, etc.)? I’m not sure what could have caused the grafted branch to die.

      As for why the branches seem to have slowed in growth, this may be a result of the harsh winter and fickle spring most areas experienced this year. It really set many fruit trees back in the development area, especially young trees. If you aren’t seeing any other symptoms of limb dieback or disease, time is the best thing you can provide your pear tree at this point. You don’t want to try fertilizing this late in the season, especially since forced new growth in a pear tree is more susceptible to issues like fireblight and winter injury later on.

      Sometimes too much water can have a negative effect on the growth and development of a tree, especially if it is in a location with poorly drained or heavy soil. If you are watering your tree more than once per week, and if you are watering even if it is raining, then your tree may be getting too much water.

      I hope some of these things help you figure out what might be causing the issue with your pear tree. If you can provide any photos or other details, I’ll be happy to see what further help I can provide! Also, feel free to contact our customer support team at 800.325.4180 or email us at info@starkbros.com if you’d like to share photos and seek more advice.

  73. Mark L Yurkiw on said:

    Of the 8 types of fruit trees I bought from you 5 years ago only 2 survive, each year I lost a tree or two but…..
    My cherry tree is now 6ft tall but has only two branches and they leaf out only at the ends.
    It the same age and sits in the same soil and light conditions as my peach tree which is 8ft away and about 10ft tall with fruit. They both treated the same (actually there is nothing to prune on the cherry but I prune the peach… one out of 8 ain’t bad?)
    What can I do about my cherry? (It’s the one you sell that has 2 types of cherries.)

    • Sarah on said:

      Even if you don’t think there is much to prune on your cherry tree, it would still benefit from pruning. Pruning doesn’t just take off existing growth, it stimulates new growth. I recommend pruning the tips of your cherry tree’s existing branches, just a little bit (3 inches or so), in order to encourage growth below your pruning cut. Be sure not to prune the entire branch off, since the 2-N-1 Cherry Tree’s branches are the two different cherry varieties (unlike the peach tree which has all one variety in its branching).

      You can do this stimulation pruning now; this summer. You may see new growth before the cherry tree goes dormant in the fall, but more than likely you’ll see the results of your pruning during the next growing season (starting in spring). Learn more about the benefits of summer pruning here.

  74. Susan on said:

    I have 5 apple, 3 peach, & 2 pear trees all purchased from Miller or Starke & all planted 7 -8 years ago. While the apples & peaches have performed wonderfully & the only real issues have been late spring freezes here in west central Missouri, the pears have done nothing at all, not even one bloom. All our fruit trees are planted in the same area in rows so unless pears need something different from the soil, I don’t think it’s the issue. The trees don’t look stressed by disease or bugs. We spray them when we spray the others for bugs & disease even though they don’t fruit. If they would at least make a few blooms I could find out if pollination is an issue, but they haven’t made even one. Just really frustrated that after 7 or 8 years they haven’t done anything.

    • Sarah on said:

      Hi Susan — out of curiosity, do you remember which varieties the pear trees are? I’ll ask to see if maybe they take a little longer than the average 4-6 years to bear fruit that is provided for pear trees. You mention spraying the trees for pests and disease, which is important even if the trees have not yet fruited. With that out of the way, my questions are about 1. pruning and 2. fertilizing.

      1. Pruning will help keep your pear trees open to light, which is key in developing fruiting buds on the limbs. Pruning also has other benefits to the trees as a whole, so be sure to remove damaged, dead, and diseased wood whenever you find it. Remove limbs that grow in toward the center of the tree and limbs that cross over/rub against one another. You should wait to do this when the trees are dormant, after they’ve dropped all of their leaves so it’s easier to see what needs to go. If your trees just needed to be opened up to more light, you should see an improvement in the next year.

      If you’re fertilizing your pear trees at all, I would suggest holding off next year. Not all trees respond the same way to fertilizer, but if a tree is receiving too much fertilizer (especially if it’s high in nitrogen), then it may help develop lots of green, vegetative growth (leaves and branches), but it may be at the expense of flowers and fruit. Taking fertilizer out of the picture will help trigger a fruit tree into thinking it’s time to reproduce itself (fruit) rather than “eat and grow”. :)

      The last thing I can think of is that most new pear trees may take 4-6 years to start bearing fruit, and this can be affected by harsh winters (of which we’ve had a couple in a row). I hate to say “maybe they need more time”, since you’ve given them a lot of time already, but it may also be all they need if none of these other suggestions fit.

      I hope this helps!

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