Hello; I have a flowering crab apple tree that was purchased last year. The...

Asked June 11, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT

Hello; I have a flowering crab apple tree that was purchased last year. The tree flowered and grew nicely last year. There was a wonderful scent to the flowers. This year came around and there are NO leaves at all that recurred on this tree. However, on the trunk there is one small branch about 5" long where there are leaves. Therefore, I believe the plant is still alive. Can you tell me what to do??? Thank you.

Anoka County Minnesota

1 Response

Thank you for the question. You don't where say where on the trunk the small branch is growing. If it's at the bottom of the tree, your growth is most likely suckering from the root stock. Most flowering Crabapple varieties are bud grafted onto one of several different apple rootstocks. As a result, suckering at the base is common, more so on some rootstocks than other. Your tree is probably grafted, so the new growth from the root will show the fruiting characteristic of the rootstock which may be less desirable than the characteristics you observed last year. There should be a graft union if it was grafted. To test if any of the other non-leafing braches are alive take a knife and gently scrap a little bark off a small branch furthest away from the trunk. If there is green tissue under the bark, that branch is alive and may soon grow new leaves. If there is no green tissue, then that branch is dead. If that branch is dead, work your way from branch to branch toward the trunk. Once you determine what is alive then prune off the dead branches. If the entire tree is dead except for the branch, and that branch is farther up the trunk than the graft union, you could try cutting off the dead part above the branch and see what happens. Often, trees and shrubs will come with a 1 year guarantee and you could return it and get a new plant or your money back.