We have two well-established crab-apples trees on our street, about 15 years old. The last few years they fruited pretty heavily and we were looking forward to harvesting fruit this year.

However there are no flowers at all this year. We had an unusually mild winter with hardly any days of frost and I wondered if this might be to blame? Do these types of trees rely on cold weather to 'reset their calendar'?

I know trees sometimes just don't fruit but there are two of them and these aren't saplings - and literally not one single flower on either!

  • What's your location (nearest major city and state) and garden zone? Last winter was pretty mild here in Michigan too and I have not see any crabapples on our street bloom yet.
    – Bulrush
    Jul 1, 2016 at 10:52

1 Answer 1


It can happen that you'll get no flowers due to missing the "chilling" requirement (the tree's calibration for "winter happened, OK to flower now.") That is commonly described as days below 45F, so freezing is not absolutely required for it, and it varies with different varieties.

In my area we seem to have lost the flowers (and thus fruit) due to some wild gyrations in temperature, with an overall warmish winter and some very warm early spring, but a sharp cold snap/hard freeze late that appears to have killed most of the buds. We had adequate chilling, but a freeze at the wrong time will kill the flowers once they have broken dormancy. Concentrating on pruning for form and hoping for better luck next year.

  • So if you planted apple trees in warm climates, they'd never flower/fruit?
    – Mr. Boy
    Jun 30, 2016 at 18:07
  • @Ecnerwal, in lower Michigan, zone 5b, a "warm winter" is one where it didn't get below 0F very often. A "mild winter" is where we had less snow than average. So while we had a more warmer and mild winter than average last year, I still don't see any crabapple blooms on my street.
    – Bulrush
    Jul 1, 2016 at 10:54
  • A: while there's no indication where Mr. Boy lives, it's clearly warmer given the "hardly days of frost" B: more likely you have some variant of what I have in zone 4 - buds froze off after breaking dormancy but before flowering.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 1, 2016 at 14:28

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