Peach tree no leaves

Can I save this tree?

First of all, I’m going to explain a bit about what’s probably happening. Peach trees, and for that matter most stone-fruit trees planted for production, are usually not grown on their own roots. If the tree was planted with the intention of getting fruit it’s quite possible that the dead-looking part is a peach while the roots and bottom section of trunk are another stone-fruit. Possibly a plum as those seem to be the favored rootstock for stone-fruits.

Because the part above the graft (the scion) is bred principally for it’s fruit-quality they often lack disease resistance or tolerance to other stresses the world throws at them. The part below the graft (the rootstock) is chosen for it’s capacity for vigorous growth and resistance to anything that can go wrong. If the scion is doing poorly (or sometimes when it’s doing fine) the rootstock will often produce it’s own shoots (suckers) from below the graft point in an attempt to live even as the scion dies out. If the suckers are allowed to get established the rootstock may even begin shunting resources away from the scion to it’s own branches, potentially starving the scion to death. This may be what is happening or has happened to your tree.

In order to try and recover the situation let’s make sure the scion is dead. If you try to snap a small branch/twig off and it cracks like dry wood, it’s dead. If it bends it might not be dead, but rather dormant because the rootstock is denying it water and nutrients. If the scion is dead there’s nothing for it. You can either tear out the whole tree, remove the scion and let the rootstock grow up and see what you get, or remove the scion and try to get fresh grafts applied to the rootstock.

If the scion is still alive, you can chop off the suckers and the rootstock may begin to supply the scion again, saving the tree.

Sudden peach tree death


My peach tree suddenly died. It bloomed beautifully this spring, there were a lot of peaches forming, but now the peaches are all shriveled and the leaves have turned crisp. The leaves are green but crumble when you touch them. What happened? I didn’t use any herbicide or fertilizer.


t is likely that your peach tree has been killed by peach tree borers. This is the greatest pest of peaches, cherries, plums, and other stone fruits in New Mexico. This borer is the caterpillar of a moth that looks a lot like a black wasp. So if you see a black wasp-like creature with one or more yellow stripes or bands around its abdomen flying around your stone fruit trees, anticipate problems. However, even if you don’t see them, if you live in New Mexico (or many other parts of the U.S.) you can expect to have this pest cause problems at some time.

The female moth has a single, broad orange band while the male has narrow bands. Both are dark blue with clear wings. Their larvae are small, yellowish to whitish borers which feed on the cambium layer of tissue just beneath the bark of the trees.

Evidence of peach tree borer infestation is an accumulation of gummy sap and sawdust at the base of the tree. These moths attack at ground level, or just below or above ground level. Initially, sap exudes from the tree at the point of infestation. This sap gels into a gummy mass, then later hardens. Boring dust, large sawdust, produced by the borer and frass are often mixed with the sap. There may be a foul odor as the sugar in the sap begins to ferment.

The borers work around the tree near the soil level, in time girdling the tree. When the tree is girdled, the food produced in the leaves is cut off from the roots. The roots starve, then when the roots die, no water is available to the top of the tree which appears to die suddenly. In actuality, the tree has been slowly dying as the roots slowly starved.

In some cases, the borer may not completely girdle the tree but may cause damage to the bark and cambium in a portion of the trunk. In such a case, with only one or a few borers active in the trunk, the top of the tree may die in sections, one branch at a time. A zone of dead bark will be found at the base of the tree, but the tree will not be completely girdled.

Treatment for the peach tree borer has become more difficult as one of the more effective products, Paradichlorobenzene, is no longer available in New Mexico garden centers. Rather than this product which fumigated the base of the tree, killing the borers under the bark, now we must use one of the borer sprays labeled for use on peach trees to prevent borer infestation.

Transplant iris now


A friend has a lot of pretty irises and has offered some to me. Is it safe to transplant them now? She is moving and I must transplant them now. It is very hot, and I am afraid it is too hot to transplant them.


Late July and early August are the best times to transplant an iris. They are inactive now and can best handle the transplanting. In the fall they will grow new roots, and in the spring they will produce new leaves and flowers. They will do best if you transplant them now.

Before moving the irises, prepare the planting site by working the soil well. Add a moderate amount of compost or other organic matter to the soil. Be sure to incorporate a source of phosphate into the soil. This may be super phosphate or colloidal phosphate. In our calcareous soils, bone meal is not an effective source of phosphorus for plants.

When you plant the irises, do not bury the rhizomes. Place them on the soil surface with soil covering only the bottom half of the rhizome. It is okay to trim the leaves at this time.

Is My Peach Tree Still Dormant: Help For Peach Trees Not Leafing Out

Between pruning/thinning, spraying, watering and fertilizing, gardeners put a lot of work into their peach trees. Peach trees not leafing out can be a serious problem that may leave you wondering if you’ve done something wrong. When a peach tree has no leaves, you can blame the weather. No leaf growth on peaches means that the winter wasn’t cold enough for the tree to break dormancy in spring.

Is My Peach Tree Still Dormant?

When peach trees go dormant, they produce growth inhibiting hormones that prevent them from growing or producing leaves and flowers. This keeps the tree from breaking dormancy before spring arrives. Cold weather breaks down the growth inhibiting hormones and allows the tree to break dormancy.

The amount of exposure to cold weather required to break dormancy varies, and it’s best to choose a variety suited to winter temperatures in your area. Most peach trees need between 200 and 1,000 hours of winter temperatures below 45 F. (7 C.). The number of hours required is called “chilling hours,” and your local extension agent can tell you how many chilling hours you can expect in your area.

Chilling hours don’t have to be consecutive. All of the hours below 45 F. (7 C.) count toward the total unless you have a spell of winter temperatures that are unusually high. Winter temperatures above 65 F. (18 C.) can set the tree back a little.

Wet Conditions and Peach Trees Not Leafing Out

Peach trees may also fail to leaf out due to overly wet conditions over the winter. If a peach tree is late breaking its dormancy in the spring, this may indicate that the tree is developing root rot. If you suspect that this may be the issue, try to alleviate the drainage issue to help the tree recover, but be prepared for the possibility that you will not be able to save the tree as often by the time the peach tree fails to break its dormancy in the spring, root rot has already damaged significant parts of the root system.

When Do Peach Trees Grow Leaves?

After a peach tree has the required number of chilling hours, any spell of warm weather can cause it to leaf out. It may grow leaves in response to a warm spell in winter if it has experienced enough cold weather, so it is important not to choose low chill varieties, which only need 200-300 hours of cold temperatures, if you live in an area with a long, cold winter.

When peach trees leaf out in response to a brief warm spell in winter, the tree often sustains serious damage when temperatures return to normal. The damage ranges from leaf loss and soft growth to twig or branch dieback. The only thing you can do when a peach tree has no leaves, other than waiting, is remove dead branches and hope for better weather next year.

How to Do a Scratch Test on Trees & Plants

Dormant plants and trees wake up at different times. There is one easy way to determine if your fruit tree or berry plant is still alive: the scratch test.

When spring finally arrives, plants and trees start to wake up, and the gardening world gets exciting! It is also the time of year to evaluate what survived the winter. One common misconception this time of year is that all trees and plants wake at the same time. When we compare dormant plants and trees to things that are already waking in our gardens, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Today, we’re going to equip you with one of the most handy tools that you can use to determine what’s still living: The Scratch Test.

1. Scratch Test: Fruit Trees

The most telltale way to determine if your young dormant trees are still alive is by checking the cambium layer under the bark. The task is simple! What you need:

  • Your thumbnail or a smooth knife

How to do a scratch test:

  1. With your thumbnail or knife, lightly scratch a small spot into the bark of the tree’s trunk (in a location about halfway up the tree).
  2. Look for wet tissue beneath the bark layer that is scratched back. It should have a greenish hue – this is living tissue.

If you find that the cambium layer beneath the bark has become dry, brittle, and brown, then it indicates that the tree has failed to live. Living Tissue:Dead Tissue:Sometimes, after performing a scratch test, you may discover the tree’s trunk shows no signs of life even though new growth still sprouts from the roots. This happens in grafted trees if the top-portion (the grafted variety) dies while the rootstock goes on living. If this happens, then it is best to replace the tree. Letting just the rootstock grow will result in a tree that lacks the qualities of the grafted variety you originally chose to plant. Rootstocks are used for characteristics like dwarfing and hardiness, and are often not ideal candidates for fruit-bearing trees. Things to avoid when performing a scratch test:

  • Do not cut a large wound into the tree to determine whether or not it is living. A small spot will suffice.
    • Large wounds cut into your tree will require more effort to heal over.
  • Do not perform a scratch test on a branch/limb of the tree.
    • Testing the trunk is necessary. Limbs can break/die without determining the status of the rest of the tree.

    2. Scratch Test: Berry Plants & Vines

    For berry plants and vines, you can still attempt a scratch test to identify the living tissue. Simply follow the steps above for a scratch test on trees, and adjust to accommodate the size of the berry plants’ canes or vines. Pick a spot on the young cane/vine that is a few inches above the soil level to scratch. Many berry plants send new growth up from their roots, so a dead cane may not determine a dead plant; however, a living cane will determine a living plant. With that in mind and, since some plants may feature thorns, you may prefer pruning in order to look for living tissue in your berry plants and fruiting vines.

    3. Prune Back: Berry Plants & Vines

    What you need:

    • A pair of sharp and clean pruning shears

    How to prune to check for living tissue:

    1. With your pruners, cut from the tips of the canes, working your way back toward the ground.
    2. Cut the canes back little by little and check for signs of life after each cut.
    3. Stop cutting back once you reach green, living tissue.

    You are still looking for greenish, wet, living wood, but it may be necessary to cut dry dead tips back to find it. Cutting this dead wood away also helps the plants to sustain healthy growth during the growing season. If your berry plant exhibits no living tissue in the canes above the ground, and you are also not seeing any new growth sprout from the root system well into the growing season, then your berry plant is likely no longer living. Replacing the berry plant is recommended in this case. It would also be a good time to assess water drainage, soil nutrients, and soil pH in that location if the cause of death is unknown. Now that you know how to check to see if your plants and trees are living, it’s also important to know that, if they are still dormant, they simply need more time to break dormancy – especially if this is their first growing season in your yard! Each year, the seasons and the weather are slightly different, but living plants and trees will always wake up when they’re ready. Remember: Dormant berry plants and fruit trees may take anywhere from 4-6 weeks before showing signs of growth after planting.

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The Master Gardener: Why did my peach tree die suddenly?

Once again, the dark side of gardening entered my world when one of my dwarf ornamental Bonfire peach trees died suddenly. Sadly, this is the fifth peach tree in my life to do this. Although I have accepted that this is a possibility when growing this tree, it is still sad to lose a plant that you love.

I planted four of these unusual and pretty trees near the park pavilion nine years ago. For several years they bloomed perfectly every spring (except this year, thanks for nothing, Polar Vortex!) and then leafed out just fine. The leaves have a nice oblong shape and are a deep shade of maroon. Depending on the soil and location, the trees may stay small at around 3 feet or shoot up to 6 feet with a nice spread.

Of the four trees, one stayed small and that always annoyed me. However, that tree died suddenly last month and was quickly replaced with a nice healthy tree, planted just a few feet over in case the problem was in the soil. Unfortunately another one in the garden began to wilt a few weeks later and I immediately knew what that meant — the tree would be completely dead within a week. As sad as it was, we cut the dead tree down and attempted to transplant the others. So, although there are not anymore ornamental peach trees near the pavilion, they had a nice long life in that location and were beautiful specimens.

So what happened? The problem could have been a condition referred to as Peach Tree Short Life. This often occurs when the tree is 3 to 6 years old and it all happens quickly. The leaves begin to wilt and lose their sheen and soon after the tree dies to the ground. Although the roots may appear healthy, they may have necrosis or nematode damage. Other contributing factors are extremely cold weather, bad rootstock, inadequate nutrition in the soil and sudden weather temperature changes (something we are all too familiar with in Illinois).

If you are one of the few to have any peaches on your tree this year, consider yourself very lucky. Due to the cold winter we had, many peach trees didn’t flower. No flowers mean no fruit. Oh well, maybe next year, right?

On the bright side, there is a fabulous bonfire peach tree located on the west side of Parkside Athletics. For your viewing pleasure, I highly recommend a trip down Redbud Memorial Lane to check it out. This tree was planted about five years ago and is the biggest one in the park. Obviously it is in ideal soil because it is about five feet tall with a large spread and since it is near the building, it gets a bit of extra warmth in the winter. In a normal year, this tree will be covered in bright pink blooms in the spring, to be followed by dozens of small edible peaches in the summer. Sometimes my coworker and I will stop and pick a handful for a little snack, but in typical park fashion, the squirrels usually beat us to it.

Because of those silly squirrels and their tendency to bury things, new peach trees often pop up all over the place. Since this tree is usually grafted, the new seedlings are more of a bushy shape than a tree and they grow very slow. Bonfire peach trees are available at many nurseries for a cost of around $30, and despite their unpredictability I highly recommend them, especially if you love experimenting with unusual plants.

Peach tree has lost all leaves

Hi and thanks for contacting Ask an Expert.
I have questions before I can answer yours. How old are the trees? Is the fruit on the tree with no leaves brown, falling off? Did the leaves turn brown before they fell off? Or did the leaves pucker up and turn a reddish color? Did you spray with Neem oil?
Please cut off the shriveled branches, clean all debris around the trees and put in the garbage with any branches you cut. Clean your clippers with bleach before continuing (soak them in a small amount of bleach before cutting into the tree again). Continue cutting down on a limb of the tree with no leaves until you find a green ring just inside the outer bark. If you do not find any green on the tree, it is probably dead. Check carefully for any new tiny leaf buds anywhere on the tree.
Can you send me a picture of the trees? Any new leaves that grow on the tree will most likely have peach curl if that’s what the tree had to begin with. Water deeply.
Here’s some information on Peach Curl:
Here’s the information on peach leave curl:
Peach leaf curl, also known as leaf curl, is a disease caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans. Peach leaf curl affects the blossoms, fruit, leaves, and shoots of peaches, ornamental flowering peaches, and nectarines, and is one of the most common disease problems for backyard gardeners growing these trees. The distorted, reddened foliage that it causes is easily seen in spring. When severe, the disease can reduce fruit production substantially.


Peach leaf curl first appears in spring as reddish areas on developing leaves. These areas become thickened and puckered, causing leaves to curl and severely distort. The thickened areas turn yellowish and then grayish white, as velvety spores are produced on the surface by the leaf curl fungus. Later affected leaves turn yellow or brown and can remain on the tree or may fall off; they are replaced by a second set of leaves that develop more normally unless wet weather continues. The loss of leaves and the production of a second set result in decreased tree growth and fruit production. Defoliation in spring may expose branches to sunburn injury. The peach leaf curl pathogen also infects young green twigs and shoots. Affected shoots become thickened, stunted, distorted, and often die. Only rarely do reddish, wrinkled to distorted (or hypertrophied) areas develop on fruit surfaces. Later in the season these infected areas of fruit become corky and tend to crack. If leaf curl infection builds up and is left uncontrolled for several years, the tree may decline and need to be removed.


Leaf symptoms appear about 2 weeks after leaves emerge from buds. The fungus grows between leaf cells and stimulates them to divide and grow larger than normal, causing swelling and distortion of the leaf. Red plant pigments accumulate in the distorted cells. Cells of the fungus break through the cuticle of distorted leaves and produce elongated, sac-like structures called asci that produce sexual spores called ascospores, which give the leaf a grayish white, powdery or velvetlike appearance. The ascospores are released into the air, carried to new tissues, and bud (divide) to form bud-conidia. The fungus survives the hot, dry summer as ascospores and bud-conidia (asexual spores) on the tree’s surfaces. When the weather turns cool and wet in fall, the ascospores germinate to produce more bud-conidia. The new and old bud-conidia continue to increase in number by budding. Eventually a film of bud-conidia is formed on the tree’s surface. In spring, the bud-conidia move by splashing water from irrigation or rain and can infect new leaves. Periods of cool, wet weather, when leaves are first opening on the tree, favor the disease. The optimum temperature for fungal growth in laboratory cultures is 68°F, the minimum is 48°F, and the maximum is 79° to 87° F. Budding of bud-conidia occurs at or above 95% relative humidity. Wetness from rain, dew, or irrigation for more than 12.5 hours at temperatures below 61°F is needed for infection. Maximum infection occurs when trees are wet for 2 or more days. Although leaves can be infected, symptoms might not appear if temperatures remain above 69°F. Cool weather prolongs the period of disease development by favoring the pathogen and slowing leaf growth. Development of peach leaf curl ceases when young tissue is no longer developing or when weather turns dry and warmer (79° to 87°F).


To prevent peach leaf curl, use resistant peach and nectarine varieties where possible. (See the Resistant Varieties section below.) For nonresistant varieties, treat trees with a fungicide every year after leaves have fallen. In cooler northern locations leaf fall usually is in late November. In warmer southern locations leaf fall can be as late as early January. Generally a single early treatment when the tree is dormant is effective, although in areas of high rainfall or during a particularly wet winter, it might be advisable to apply a second spray late in the dormant season, preferably as flower buds begin to swell but before green leaf tips are first visible.

Resistant Varieties

A few peach varieties are available that are resistant or partially resistant to leaf curl. Currently available resistant varieties include Frost, Indian Free, Muir, and Q-1-8. The peach cultivar Frost is reportedly very tolerant but must receive fungicide applications the first 2 to 3 years. Redhaven peach and most cultivars derived from it are tolerant to peach leaf curl, whereas Redskin peach and cultivars derived from it range from susceptible to highly susceptible to the disease. There are fewer resistant nectarines, although Kreibich is one such variety.


Historically, the most commonly used fungicides available to home gardeners have been the fixed copper products. Copper can become toxic and will build up in the soil, so I do not recommend it. Wilco, Lowes and Home Depot carry Rex Lime Sulfur (in large quantities). It can be used for this fugus.

Bordeaux Mixture

Bordeaux mixture contains copper and is used primarily for vineyards and commercial orchards.


Thorough coverage with any fungicide is essential to obtain adequate disease control. Trees should be sprayed to the point of runoff or until they are dripping. When using pesticides, always read and follow the label for usage, rates, toxicity, and proper disposal. Proper protective clothing and gear including goggles should be used when handling any pesticides.

Physical Controls

Although symptoms of leaf curl are seen primarily in spring as new leaves develop, there is little you can do to control the disease at this time. Some people remove diseased leaves or prune infected shoots, but this has not been shown to improve control. Normally, diseased leaves fall off within a few weeks and are replaced by new, healthy leaves, unless it is rainy. If a tree is severely affected with peach leaf curl this can stunt its growth, so consider thinning fruit later in the season. Pruning in fall prior to applying any fungicides can reduce spore numbers overwintering on the tree and reduce the amount of fungicide needed. If leaf curl symptoms occurred on your trees in spring, be sure to treat the following fall and/or winter to prevent more serious losses the following year.

How to encourage new branch growth in a peach tree?

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Prunus persica

How many 10-year-old boys ask for a tree for their birthday? Ours did — he loved the fresh peaches from our neighbor’s tree so much, he wanted to be able to harvest the fruit from our own yard.

How could we not oblige? And while that boy is coming up on his 18th birthday and the now-20-foot tree towers over his relatively tall 6-foot, 2-inch frame, he still enjoys its fruit each summer.

In exchange for a home in our landscape, the sapling we planted has provided our family with bountiful crops almost every year (more on this in a minute), and we’ve enjoyed Reece cobbler, Reece pie, and Reece preserves — peach delights aplenty, all named for the boy who asked for a sapling as a birthday gift.

Read on if you’d like to surprise your child with a peach tree (aka Prunus persica) for a special occasion!

Growing Requirements

Peaches will grow in zones 4 to 9, but do particularly well in zones 6 and 7. Varietal selection is particularly zone-dependant, and we’ll explore this more later in the article.

These plants are self-pollinating, so while you may want to grow an orchard so that each of your children has his or her own tree, you don’t need more than one to get fruit.

The peach is a deciduous tree native to northwest China, and was brought to Florida by Spanish explorers in the 16th century.

The tree’s delicate blossoms are heralded for their beauty and is similar to those produced by other close relatives (all in the Prunus genus), the fruiting cherries, flowering cherries, plums, nectarines, and almonds.

The 1/2- to 1-inch flowers bloom in various shades of orange, red, pink, and violet, and can be quite fragrant.

Photo © Ralph Barrera.

And while Georgia — the Atlanta area in particular — fancies itself the peach capital of the universe, California actually produces more of the fruit annually.

Which Tree to Choose and Where to Buy

It’s important to select a variety that is known to do well in your area. Peach trees have very specific chilling requirements in order to break dormancy and begin flowering.

Each variety needs a certain number of chilling hours below a particular temperature. For example, ‘Bicentennial’ requires 750 hours under 45°F each winter in order to bloom, whereas ‘Gulfking’ needs only 350 hours under 45°F.

If you choose a cultivar that needs fewer hours of chilling than what commonly occurs in your area, your tree might start blooming during a January or February warm spell. And then a subsequent cold snap could kill all your blooms, meaning no peaches when harvest season rolls around.

Sometimes, even if you have the right cultivar for your area, a late frost kills your blossoms anyway. Sadly, this has happened to us a few times. No Reece cobbler those years.

Your best bet is to consult with your county extension agent to learn which varieties do well where you live.

If ‘Contender’ grows in your area, Brighter Blooms sells trees in three different sizes, available via Amazon.

Contender Peach Tree

Young saplings or more established trees will be 3-4 feet, 4-5 feet, or 5-6 feet tall and ready for spring planting. Check to make sure shipping is available in your area.

Or, if ‘O’Henry’ is more suitable, try this 5-gallon specimen from Burchell Nursery, also available on Amazon.

O’Henry Freestone Peach Tree

This variety needs 750 chilling hours, so it might be good for areas with moderate to pronounced winters.

Purchase a plant from a reputable nursery or online source. Select a healthy, mid-size specimen that has an established root system.

‘Frost’ and ‘Avalon Pride’ can withstand cold weather, as can ‘Harken,’ which is available from Nature Hills Nursery.

Harken Peach Tree

The nursery will ship you a 4- to 5-foot bare root plant that is hardy in zones 5-8.

If you’d like a smaller variety that you can grow in a pot, look for ‘Pix-Zee’ or ‘Honey Babe,’ which grow to about 6 feet.

Find ‘Honey Babe’ at Nature Hills Nursery.

Honey Babe Peach

You’ll receive a 2- to 3-foot bare root plant that will produce fruit in three to five years. We grow ‘Sam Houston,’ developed at Texas A&M University specifically for Texas landscapes, with low chill-hour requirements.

‘Donut’ also does well in southern climes, requiring 400-500 hours of chilling. Find a 4- to 5-foot bareroot ‘Donut’ plant at Nature Hills Nursery.


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Photos by Gretchen Heber, Kendall Vanderslice, and Mike Quinn © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Photos by Ralph Barrera, Hunger Thirst Play, Wanderspice, The Domestic Dietitian, Kitchen Window Clovers, The Fitchen, and Sugar Love Spices reprinted with permission. Product photos via Brighter Blooms, Burchell Nursery, Nature Hills Nursery, Garden Safe and Safer Brand. Uncredited photos: .

About Gretchen Heber

A former garden editor for a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas, Gretchen Heber goes through entirely too many pruners and garden gloves in a year’s time. She’s never met a succulent she didn’t like and gets really irritated every 3-4 years when Austin actually has a freeze cold enough to kill them. To Gretchen, nothing is more rewarding than a quick dash to the garden to pluck herbs to season the evening meal. And it’s definitely time for a happy dance when she’s able to beat the squirrels to the peaches, figs, or loquats.

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