I Bought a Flowering Tree That Has Failed to Bloom. Why?

There are several potential reasons why a flowering tree you purchased has failed to bloom. Let’s explore the most common causes and solutions to get your tree flowering beautifully.

Improper Planting

One of the most common reasons flowering trees fail to bloom is improper planting. Here are some key planting mistakes to avoid:

Planting Too Deep

Planting the tree too deep can cause poor root development and prevent the tree from getting the sunlight, drainage, and air circulation it needs to thrive. The root flare where the roots meet the trunk should be partially above ground.

Solution: Carefully dig up the tree and replant at proper depth so the root flare is visible. Build a soil mound if needed to raise the height.

Planting in Poor Soil

Planting in heavy clay, sandy, or compacted soil can restrict root growth. Flowering trees need loose, nutrient-rich, well-draining soil to develop a healthy root system.

Solution: Amend the soil with compost and organic material to improve drainage and nutrients before replanting.

Burying the Root Flare

The root flare needs sunlight and air exposure. Planting too deep and burying this key area in soil can lead to decline.

Solution: Uncover the root flare area during planting for optimal health.

Leaving Wire Basket or Burlap On

Leaving the wire basket or burlap wrapped around the root ball in place prevents proper root growth after planting.

Solution: Carefully remove all wire, rope, and wrapping materials before backfilling with soil during planting.

Improper Hole Size

Digging a hole too small can bunch roots and hinder growth. The planting hole should be 2-3 times wider than the root ball.

Solution: Plant in an adequately sized hole that allows room for root expansion.

Insufficient Sunlight

Flowering trees need ample sunlight to thrive. At least 6 hours of direct sun daily is ideal for flowering. Too much shade will reduce blooms.


  • Select a sunnier planting site. Move the tree if the area is too shady.
  • Prune overhead branches and vegetation allowing more light to reach the tree.
  • Choose flowering tree varieties suited for shadier conditions.

Extreme Weather Events

Flower buds can be damaged by extreme cold, heat, or late season frosts. Blooming may be disrupted or prevented entirely.


  • Provide winter protection from harsh winds and sunscald on younger trees.
  • Water trees during drought and extreme heat periods to prevent bud loss.
  • Select flowering tree species suited for your regional climate. Later blooming trees avoid frost damage.

Insufficient Watering

Inconsistent watering during dry periods stresses trees and reduces flowering. Soil should be moist but not saturated for blooms.


  • Water young trees weekly during the first two years establishing roots.
  • Water mature trees thoroughly once monthly during drought.
  • Add mulch to help retain soil moisture.
  • Check soil frequently, water when dry 2-4 inches deep.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Lack of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium can limit flowering. Hungry trees focus energy on survival not blooms.


  • Test soil and add specific nutrients identified as deficient.
  • Apply a balanced organic fertilizer in early spring to support blooms.
  • Add aged compost annually to improve nutrients, drainage, and moisture retention.
  • Leave fallen leaves under tree to decompose and add nutrients back to the soil.

Poor Pruning Practices

Pruning flowering trees at the wrong time removes flower buds. Improper pruning also hinders tree health.


  • Prune spring blooming trees immediately after flowering.
  • Prune summer blooming trees in early spring before buds emerge.
  • Always prune to enhance the tree’s natural shape and growth patterns.
  • Never remove more than 25% of the tree’s branches when pruning.

Pest or Disease Issues

Pest infestations and diseases stress trees impacting flowering. Common culprits include borers, mites, scale, leaf spot fungus, fire blight, and root rot.


  • Inspect trees weekly for signs of infestation or infection.
  • Remove pest infested areas. Disinfect tools after pruning diseased branches.
  • Apply appropriate organic pesticide or fungicide treatments.
  • Improve soil drainage and air circulation to prevent disease.

Age of Tree

Younger, newly planted flowering trees often take 3-5 years to become established enough to produce abundant blooms. Patience is required.


  • Allow several growing seasons for root systems to develop before expecting prolific flowering.
  • Choose smaller, faster flowering trees like redbuds, dogwoods, and crabapples if immediate impact is desired.
  • Fertilize annually and water weekly to help young trees thrive faster.

Genetics and Variety

Some flowering tree varieties and individual trees are genetically prone to sparse or intermittent flowering. Culprits are non-grafted trees, weak nursery stock, or buds damaged during transport.


  • Select proven flowering tree varieties suited for your growing zone. Avoid novelty or weak trees.
  • Purchase grafted trees instead of seed grown. Grafts maintain flower genetics.
  • Inspect trees carefully before purchase. Avoid trees with damaged buds or root balls.

Too Much Fertilizer

Heavy fertilization encourages leafy vegetative growth at the expense of flowers. Excess nitrogen is the biggest culprit.


  • Use fertilizer sparingly, only what the tree needs based on soil testing.
  • Apply organic fertilizers over synthetic to reduce burn risks.
  • Apply fertilizer when tree is dormant to avoid disrupting blooms.

Environmental Stress

Any environmental factors that stress the tree such as compacted soil, road salt, or pollution can hinder flowering. Health must come first.


  • Improve drainage, remove salt buildup, and amend soil if compacted.
  • Address sources of pollution runoff if present.
  • Add protective mulch layer and provide supplemental water during drought.
  • Avoid planting in stressed locations and allow adequate space for root growth.

Improper Tree Selection

Some flowering tree species only bloom when mature or need cross-pollination. Choosing an inappropriate tree is a common mistake.


  • Research your tree’s specific flowering habits and needs before selecting and planting.
  • Choose disease resistant, non-invasive trees suitable for your planting zone and climate.
  • Group multiple compatible trees together to support cross-pollination.

By taking steps to rule out these common flowering problems, you can get your tree blooming beautifully year after year. Patience and proper care for the first few years after planting are key. Address deficiencies right away, and your tree will reward you with an abundance of flowers when mature.

Why Choose a Flowering Tree?

Flowering trees provide so much more than just spectacular blooms in spring or summer. Here are the top benefits of incorporating them into your landscape:

Gorgeous Flowers and Color

The burst of color from blooming trees brightens up any property and lifts the mood. Choose flowering varieties that complement your existing plants.

Low Maintenance

Most flowering trees are relatively drought and pest resistant once established which reduces maintenance. Annual pruning and occasional spraying keeps them healthy.

Fast Growing

Many flowering varieties grow quickly compared to other landscape trees – some up to 2 feet per year. You can enjoy mature height and form faster.

Versatile Size

Flowering trees come in small, medium, and large size options to fit any space. Dwarf varieties can even grow in containers on patios.


Trees like magnolias, lindens, and crabapples add lovely perfumed florals to your garden when in bloom. Scent is an added bonus.

Wildlife Habitat

The pollen, nectar, seeds, berries, and shelter provided benefit birds, bees, butterflies and other helpful wildlife.

Property Enhancement

Beyond beauty, flowering trees increase property values. They make landscapes look well cared for and showcase a home beautifully when for sale.

Privacy Screen

Larger evergreen flowering varieties provide screening, seclusion, and noise reduction when planted correctly as a living privacy fence or hedge.

Shade Provider

Flowering trees cool landscapes in summer once mature. The right selection offers shade to patios, yards, and homes without root invasiveness.

Pollution Fighter

Trees improve air quality by filtering and absorbing airborne pollutants and dust. The more trees, the cleaner the air!

Best Flowering Trees to Plant

With so many choices, here are top picks across small, medium and large size categories:

Small / Dwarf Flowering Trees

  • Eastern Redbud: Vibrant pink blooms in early spring. Heart shaped leaves. Grows 15-20 feet tall.
  • Flowering Dogwood: White or pink spring blooms. Red fall foliage. Grows 15-25 feet.
  • Japanese Tree Lilac: Heavily scented white blooms in summer. Grows 15-25 feet.
  • Saucer Magnolia: Pink or white cup-shaped spring flowers. Grows 15-20 feet.
  • Crape Myrtle: Profuse summer blooms in variety of colors. Grows 10-15 feet.
  • Star Magnolia: Fragrant, star-shaped white spring blooms. Grows 15-20 feet.

Medium Size Flowering Trees

  • Red Horsechestnut: Long spikes of red spring flowers. Grows 30-40 feet.
  • Fringe Tree: White spring fringe-like flowers. Grows 12-20 feet.
  • Russian Hawthorn: White spring flowers, red fruit. Grows 20-30 feet.
  • Lilac Tree: Heavily scented white or purple blooms. Grows 20-25 feet.
  • Goldenrain Tree: Yellow summer blooms. Grows 20-40 feet.
  • Witch Hazel: Fragrant yellow winter blooms. Grows 15-30 feet.

Large Flowering Trees

  • Tulip Poplar: Orange, yellow, pink tulip-like blooms in spring. Grows 70-100 feet.
  • Sweetbay Magnolia: Creamy white summer blooms. Grows 30-50 feet.
  • Catalpa: Large white springtime blooms. Grows 50-70 feet tall.
  • European Beech: Light pink spring flowers. Grows 50-60 feet.
  • Yellowwood: White pea-like fragrant spring blooms. Grows 30-50 feet.
  • Japanese Pagodatree: Cascade of white summer flowers. Grows 50-75 feet.

Common Flowering Trees to Avoid

Not all flowering trees are created equal. Here are some poor choices you’ll want to avoid:

  • Bradford Pear: Weak branching, invasive, short-lived.
  • Mimosa Tree: Invasive, short-lived, high maintenance.
  • Empress Tree: Extremely invasive, seeds spread aggressively.
  • Mulberry: Messy fruit drop and invasive roots.
  • Silver Maple: Very weak, prone to damage, invasive roots.
  • Willow: Brittle, invasive, high maintenance.
  • American Elm: Highly susceptible to disease. Very messy and short-lived.
  • Black Locust: Invasive, major thorns, spreads aggressively.
  • Chinese Tallow: Highly invasive root sprouts, seeds spread widely.

Always thoroughly research the best flowering tree options for your specific climate and growing goals. Some provide wonderful spring color but have major drawbacks to be aware of.

When and How to Plant Flowering Trees

Timing and technique are key to success when planting flowering trees. Here are some tips:

When to Plant

  • Spring: The best time to plant container trees. Balled-and-burlapped trees should go in early to avoid ground freeze.
  • Fall: Plant after leaves drop until ground freezes. Trees establish roots before winter dormancy.
  • Summer: Avoid if possible due to heat stress. Water religiously if planting in summer.

Where to Plant

  • Full to part sun exposure. Most flowering trees need a minimum of 6 hours direct sun.
  • Well-draining, nutrient rich soil. Improve poor soils before planting.
  • Enough room for mature size. Check expected height and width.
  • Visible but protected location. Avoid windswept exposure.

How to Plant

  • Dig wide hole no deeper than root ball. Scrape sides for root penetration.
  • Remove all wrapping, wires, tags, and containers before setting tree in hole.
  • Face best side of tree front. Set root ball on firmly packed soil at proper depth.
  • Backfill with native soil. Water thoroughly to settle.
  • Stake for 1-2 years if needed until established. Avoid damage to bark.
  • Mulch surface but do not pile against trunk. A 2-4 inch layer is ideal.
  • Water weekly for the first two years while roots establish.

The effort you put into proper planting, placement, and aftercare will be rewarded with healthy trees and abundant flowers for years to come.

Caring for Flowering Trees Long-Term

Getting flowering trees established correctly is half the battle. Providing proper long-term care is equally crucial. Here are the keys:


  • Water weekly the first 2 years during growing season.
  • Gradually reduce frequency as tree establishes an expansive root system.
  • Mature trees need thorough, monthly soakings during drought.


  • Apply organic granular fertilizer each early spring.
  • Follow label rates – little and often is ideal.
  • Avoid excess nitrogen that promotes foliage over flowers.


  • Prune immediately after flowering before buds set.
  • Remove suckers, dead or diseased branches regularly.
  • Hire an arborist for major corrective pruning if needed.
  • Never remove more than 25% branches at one time.

Pest/Disease Control

  • Check weekly for common issues like Japanese beetles, aphids, scale.
  • Remove pests by hand immediately to prevent spreading.
  • Apply organic pesticides per label if infestation grows.
  • Disinfect tools between trees to prevent disease spread.


  • Stake young trees to prevent damage. Remove support after 2 years.
  • Wrap thin barked trees to prevent winter sunscald.
  • Encircle trunks with wire mesh to prevent rodent damage.

With proper selection, planting, and follow-up care your flowering trees will thrive and delight you with blooms year after year for their entire lifespan. A small investment of time leads to an abundance of enjoyment from these incredible plants.

Troubleshooting Lack of Blooms

If your flowering tree still refuses to bloom well despite proper care, here are some troubleshooting tips:

Issue: Sparse blooms, lack of flowers.

Potential Cause: Insufficient sunlight

Solution: Prune overhanging branches and relocate to sunnier area if possible.

Issue: Few blooms or no flowers.

Potential Cause: Extreme weather damage.

Solution: Provide protection from late frosts/winter winds. Choose later blooming varieties.

Issue: Tree looks unhealthy with bare branches.

Potential Cause: Pest infestation or disease.

Solution: Identify and treat pest/disease. Improve preventative care going forward.

Issue: Only leafy growth, no blooms.

Potential Cause: Too much nitrogen fertilization.

Solution: Eliminate or reduce fertilizer. Shift to low nitrogen plant foods.

Issue: Sparse and erratic flowering.

Potential Cause: Immature tree.

Solution: Give tree 2-5 years to establish before expecting prolific blooms.

Issue: Flowers present but lackluster.

Potential Cause: Insufficient watering during dry periods.

Solution: Implement deep monthly soakings during drought conditions.

If lack of flowering persists after addressing these common causes, have a certified arborist inspect the tree for other underlying issues. With proper care, flowering trees will live up to their name and reward you with amazing blooms year after year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did my newly planted flowering tree fail to bloom this year?

Newly planted flowering trees often take 2-5 years to establish themselves before flowering prolifically. Focus on helping it develop a healthy root system and structure before expecting blooms.

How long before a flowering tree blooms?

Depending on variety, most flowering trees begin limited blooming after 1-2 years in the ground. Full mature flowering typically occurs at 3-5 years and beyond. Well cared for they bloom annually.

Do flowering trees bloom every year?

In ideal conditions, flowering trees bloom annually. Some variance occurs due to weather effects on buds. Dramatic year to year differences usually indicate an underlying health issue.

What is the best fertilizer for flowering trees?

An organic, balanced slow-release fertilizer applied in early spring provides ideal nutrition. Avoid high nitrogen formulas that cause excessive leaf growth over flowers.

How often and when should flowering trees be pruned?

Prune spring blooming varieties immediately after flowering. For summer bloomers, prune in late winter before buds emerge. Limit major pruning to once annually.

Why does my flowering tree bloom but produce no fruit?

Lack of pollination prevents fruit set after flowering. Plant a compatible variety nearby for