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No flowers this spring

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From: Gail Miller
Zionsville, IN
Hello, I have 2 tree questions. I noticed that the tree category was not getting answered so I thought you may be able to help me. We have 2 Prairefire Crabapple trees that have been doing great the past few years. This spring, however, only 1 has flowers (many fewer flowers than previous springs) and now leaves. The other one never flowered and no leaves. What do you think has happened to it? Do you think it will come back next year? We also have a river birch tree that only has leaves at the top on one of the trunks. The other trunk looks healthy with just a few dead branches but the second trunk looks all dead except the top. What can we do to help it? Thanks for your time.

Extension Message
From: James Schmidt
Extension Specialist, Home Horticulture/4-H
Department of Crop Sciences
If there are no leaves on the one crabapple by this tim, it is probably dead. As for what happened, it would only be a guess: something with the site, soil, drainage, damage to the bark, disease - many possibilities. As for the one that had a few flowers, there could've been frost damage to the buds or possibly poor conditions when the flower buds were set in the fall. Have you pruned the tree? It helps to open up the canopy and remove all the watersprouts that crabapples develop, and which are non-flowering branches. If the tree is healthy otherwise, with abundant foliage, I wouldn't be too concerned. As for the birches, similar situation - if there are only a few leaves at the top, it could be that the tree has declined to the point of no return. The best thing to do is to keep the tree healthy by minimizing stress around the root zone, watering during periods of drought, and fertilizing to encourage vigor. You might consider having an arborist look at them to give an opinion as to longevity and/or necessary pruning to keep the tree healthy.

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