Can blooms still open after being damaged by freeze?

Today I discovered that I may have suffered a lot more damage from the two 13 de
gree nights I had near bloom time…but I’m not certain what is going on.

All my trees that had open blooms when the freeze hit behaved as I expected. Within a couple days all those blooms wilted, started to dry, and then fell off. Clearly they were dead. I also had quite a few buds that just didn’t ever open. They too just dried up and fell off.

But something else happened this year that I have never seen, and I honestly do not know if it is freeze related or pollination related or something else. Hope you all can help:
So, when the freeze hit I had a lot of blooms that were swollen and almost ready to open- you could even see a good amount of color- but they were still cold. After the freeze a lot of these swollen buds still opened and looked normal to my untrained eye. But today I noticed that on some of the trees that had swollen buds during the freeze which later opened and bloomed now have all those blooms dying. I mean ALL of them They bloomed for a few days but now the whole trees are just covered in dead, dried blooms that are falling off. They look a lot like what happens to a bloom that doesn’t get pollinated, but I wouldn’t expect every single bloom on entire trees to go unpollinated (though I guess that is possible if bugs weren’t out as early as the blooms came this year).

So, can anyone tell me why I might have full trees that bloomed heavily and yet don’t seem to have a single viable bloom or fruitlet. Just whole trees that are completely covered in now dead blooms that are dried and falling off, even though we haven’t had a freeze since the blooms opened. Could they have been rendered unviable by the hard freeze while they were still cold but still bloomed? Could it just be that for some reason zero polination took place on them this year (even though there are pollinators nearby and they have fruited in past years).

This is a mystery. Thanks. Oh…these are almost all plums and pluots if it matters.

I had asian plums bloom with very dull looking flowers once. I was worried they wouldn’t attract pollinators, so I hand pollinated some. They never set fruit. Obviously they had some type of marginal damage. There wasn’t any frost during the bud swell and bloom, so the damage must have happened in winter or autumn.

Blossoms can be freeze damaged but still open and appear somewhat normal. However if the part that was to be the fruit was killed they just dry up and fall off. I had some of that this yr. I also had buds that swelled but never opened and just fell off.

I’m sorry for your losses. I hope you still get some fruit. My later blooming fruits, pears and apples, still have a chance and are starting to bloom now.


Blooms can sometimes open even if the ovule has been destroyed.

Yes, as mentioned above , blooms can look normal after the ovule has been killed by a freeze.
After thawing, blooms can be cut length wise with a razor to assess damage. The ovule will look water soaked or black if dead.


This is somewhat pointless , unless, you just cannot sleep at night not knowing if you have peaches ( etc.) .
(What has happened , has allready happened .)
Or… If you are checking the effectiveness of frost protection.
And if it is worth protection on upcoming nights.
I sleep through those nights , very well. … What will be……
You can only do so much.
The weather is…
What it is…

I don’t think losing the fruit keeps Kevin @thecityman up at night. I think his point was that he has not experienced trees that produced full blooms and all failed.

We all know when buds are fried, they are fried. However, having buds that showed no external damage but went to bloom without setting any fruit, is intriguing esp. for those not experiencing it first hand.


These were incredibly helpful answers, and to be clear, Tippy @mamuang hit the nail on the head…my big issue here is that I’d never seen a situation where my blooms still opened and seemed to be behaving normally, yet none of them on entire trees set any fruit, perhaps indicating they had been rendered incapable of fruiting by an earlier freeze. And thanks to responses here I now know that happens and almost certainly did happen.

@Hillbillyhort I do get what you are saying about why worry about it either way, and every year that goes by I really do stress out less and less over loss of my stone fruits. For one, I’ve now got enough other kinds of fruit that I’m still going to get some fruit no matter what. Second, a year doesn’t seem like such a long time as I get older, so if I loose fruit one year I can wait until the next. Third, I think about the good things that come with loosing my crop to a freeze- specifically, I get the summer off! Really. Right or wrong, I just don’t spray my trees when they have no fruit, so there is some upside in saving money and labor.

Don’t get me wrong, I still desperately want to have fruit every year, I’m just saying that it doesn’t keep me from sleeping at night quite as much as it should!

Thanks again for all the answers.

1 Like

The year before last I had J. plum trees in full bloom that were almost barren. I also had varieties that bore lightly and others with normal crops.

Apparently the ovules can be killed while pistils survive because the bloom looked normal although I had found browning inside a lot of buds earlier on. It was no loss to my bees, at least in terms of spring food. Often honeybees and other pollinators feed on ripe plums.

1 Like

Not a mystery. seen it before. will see it again if I live a few more years.
The blooms got froze…but still opened. Yet the potential fruit was frozen so would not or could not accept pollination. Hence fell as an unpollinated fruit.

Yes, this is one mystery that has clearly been solved by the good folks on this thread. I hadn’t seen it before but certainly you and others had. And its a bit cruel! ha. I mean, in the past when my buds or blooms got frozen, the buds just didn’t open and the blooms quickly wilted, died, and dried up. Since that didn’t happen this time, I had over a week where I was in a celebratory mood thinking I’d skated through the late freeze and was going to have fruit on almost all my trees! Then the last few days I had to face the realization that I did, in fact, lose most of my plums and pluots and some of my peaches and nectarines. Oh well. this is the life of fruit growing!


I have a mystery J plum or pluot, etc, that I actually hope this happened to last year. Otherwise, the plum I planted to pollinate it simply doesn’t work. They both bloomed like crazy for the first real time last year. It made tiny green plums everywhere that soon fell off with yellow stems.

I’m grafting more varieties this year, so next year I hope I’m set regardless. But I’ve grown this tree for several years and never got one fruit! It was supposed to be a self-fertile variety, lol.

1 Like

I’m having some peach trees that are just now starting to break
dormancy and bloom. But with temps still dipping down into
the mid 30’s at night, the bees don’t know whether to come out
or not. That’s my main concern. Looks like I’m still going to get a good amount of fruit on my plums, pluots, and nectarines, and hopefully peaches. Looks like KDL worked again.

Just to be clear, all my blooms are falling off within a few days of opening and have no sign of any tiny fruits. What you describe- tiny green fruits and then yellowing stems that all fall off- certainly sounds more like a pollination problem to me. My sweet cherry did exactly like that and so did a Euro plum I had back when I didn’t have pollinators for either. Are you sure your mystery plum isn’t a euro plum and therefore isn’t being pollinated by whatever J plum you put out to pollinate it? Just a thought, because that is what happened to me a few years ago and the behavior was the same as your described.


Thanks for the help! It blooms so early. It blooms with my true almond. I haven’t had any blooms yet on my E plums, but it does look like the Bruce plum I got that has fruited.

The Bruce does overlap well, but apparently it doesn’t work as a pollinator. I really like Bruce for its hardy blooms and earliness so I’m happy to have gotten it still.

I like Bruce too, not my favorite tasting plum but one of my most dependable. And my Bruce is also an early bloomer. My only problem with it- and this is a good problem to have I guess- is that it always sets WAY TOO HEAVY. I have to thin it like no other tree of any kind that I have. Almost every limb will be covered from midway to the tip with little fruits so crowded that they are touching. Does your Bruce set heavy like that also?

1 Like

I got my first plums from it last year, after temps that should have killed all the blooms. I got about 4 dozen fruit :slight_smile: I let them touch to have that harvest, and they tasted very good.

This year we only had one night at 21 and one at 25, so I will have to thin, I bet! The blooms didn’t look phased by those temps again this year. They are still acting normally, too.