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When do black gum trees leaf out in the spring?

Nancy Asked

When do black gum trees leaf out in the spring? I had one planted in May 2015 and wondered as it hadn’t leafed out yet. I do have buds on it.

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The Gardener’s Answer

Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), also known as black tupelo, is a great choice for a native, long-lived tree and it sounds like yours is perfectly happy. The buds you’ve noticed will open shortly and the leaves will emerge.

All species of trees and shrubs leaf out at different times. Some are early spring and others, like your black gum, are consistently one of the last species to break dormancy. There are many factors that come into play, but temperature and day length are the most predominate.

Some non-native trees leaf out early and are damaged by late spring frosts but your native choice that has not leafed out isn’t at risk. Fall color is lovely on these native trees.

Since it’s a newer addition to your garden, you will want to make sure it has sufficient moisture if we have a hot, dry summer. Applying a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch will help retain moisture; just be sure not to pile it up around the trunk. If you have not fertilized, additional nutrients may be beneficial as the tree is establishing itself. Always follow recommended application rates of the product you choose.

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