Sweating a tree that wont break dormancy

This is my newly aquired Weaping Santa Rosa Plum. In the ground for a month…wont swell bud or do anything. Been in the high 80’s and even 90’s here for a few weeks now and still nada. Still alive, confirmed via scratch test. Ive heard of people “sweating” a tree to get them to break bud. Any advice on how to do such a thing?

My new weeping Santa Rosa just started leafing out a week or two ago. We’ve had a few 85 degree days. Mine is in a pot though and not in ground. It was one of my last trees to break dormancy.

All other plums leafed out long ago, flowered and now have grape sized fruit. Just has me a little concerned. We are only 2-3 weeks away from our first 100 degree day.

looks like a broom handle amadio :laughing:


Amadio. I hope your tree starts growing soon. Your soil looks as dry as ours in Central Alabama during August. The first thing that I noticed is the cracks around the planting hole which makes me think that it might need more water. Just guessing for a reason and I might be totally off base. Good luck, Bill

Sweating, never heard of such and don’t see that working. It might just be that it’s taking time for a secondary bud to push. Hopefully that will happen soon but no assurance.

Last year I forgot some bare root Mirabelles in my garage in their original shipping boxes.

When I found them, in May, I think, they were just this side of bone dry. I didn’t even try the scratch test fearing to kill even one additional green cell. I soaked the whole trees for several hours, put them in the ground, mulched like crazy and kept them watered?. It was not until mid-late June that I noticed growth. On each tree 90% of the growth above the graft was dead but, on each,new growth started from the bottom 10% of the scion above the graft. They grew like canes on a Blackberry. By the fall they looked like 4-5 foot brambles. This spring I will have to select the ones that will be retained as trunks.

So… Have heart and keep it watered.


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I had a similar situation with an apricot that I was expecting to fruit for the first time last year. Other trees were leafed out and nothing happening on this apricot. Scratch test indicated it was still healthy green, so I waited. As time went by, scratch test were always healthy green but there were no other signs of life. In this case I was the one sweating. :smile:

At some point I gave up hope. Then one day I saw a bunch of suckers coming out of the rootstock. I knew a that point it was dead. The scratch test was completely dry. I think it took nearly 2 months from the time I thought there was trouble to getting a death confirmation.

Thats just the difference between living in a place with no humidity and one with humidity. While that soil appears dry at the top, one inch down its quite wet. We just had rain less than a week ago. The dry air sucks the moisture out of the top of the soil and the clay cracks as it shrinks. Tonight we get flood irrigation and that whole field will be covered with water 8" deep.

Ive heard nurserymen talk about sweating trees that refused to break dormancy…im really quite floored that its not common. Ill have to find some written reference to it and share it here.

It sure does! Thats how alot of Dave Wilson trees come out of Bay Laurel. The crazy thing is that I dont even really want this tree. I just ordered it in so that I could collect scion wood and graft to a rootstock that works better here. But then it came in with no branches so I was forced to plant it out and let it grow and collect scion wood this coming winter. So goes the plans of mice and men…

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I got one tree the nursery sent to me like that several years back. I chopped it down more to knee high and some how that stimulated it to send out lower shoots like crazy.


There’s talk of “sweating” trees in the Fedco catalog from Waterville, Maine:


See bottom of Page 4.

Wow, they still do flood irrigation in Arizona! Seems like quite a waste of water. Drip irrigation was pioneered in Israel. The Israelis know something about desert agriculture. I certainly don’t.

I’ve had pear trees on a few occasions wait until summer to leaf out after transplant, but pears are notoriously poor specimens for transplant. Mulberries have nice fibrous root systems but maybe your tree was badly handled and most of the roots cut. The problem is that in your climate the later it leafs out the more the struggle to sustain enough moisture. Dry heat can be the kiss of death.

I recieved a Tolka Plum from Burnt Ridge last week that was the exact same way. A broomstick with 2 very short main roots on the bottom. Not very happy about it. They gave me a 5 day run around before they even would address my concen.

Yes this is exactly what ive heard described.

Sweating Nursery Stock
Some trees and shrubs become extremely dormant during refrigerated
storage. These include: Amelanchier (juneberry), Betula (birch), Cercis
(redbud), Crataegus (hawthorn) and Quercus (oak).
Sweating nursery stock ensures breaking of dormancy. The easiest way
to force any tree to break bud is to pot it and set it in a greenhouse or
polyhouse. After the tree begins to leaf out, transplant it outdoors. If you
don’t have a greenhouse, lay the trees in a shady place, 45–70˚, such as a
garage, basement, barn, greenhouse or outdoors in the shade. Cover the
whole plant with very damp packing material (hay, newspaper, etc.)
followed by a sheet of plastic. Sweating will take several days; check the
buds every day. The trees are ready to plant when the buds begin to swell.
Warm May weather will give the best results. Until then, heel your trees
in, or store them with roots covered in a cool barn or garage.

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Flood irrigation is the miracle that makes dealing with our unusual set of environmental circumstances work. Salt buildup is a major issue here. Flood irrigation is particularly incredible at flushing salts down below the root zone. The whole of Phoenix agriculture is based on it and I doubt it will ever go away.

Well kiss of death is a bit extreme. lol We have ways of dealing with it. Antitranspirants can help alot. I think im going to work on sweating this tree this weekend and see if I can get it to push. Ill post up the results.

Sweating, neat trick! As a door yard grower I’ve just learned to be patient. I planted a dwarf apple tree in January and it just now started budding out.

Did this tree ever break dormancy?

Nope, it never did. A sweated it as a last chance option but it never did do a thing. Checked cambium a few weeks later and it finally gave it up and died. It might have made a bigger difference if I had sweated it shortly after it arrived rather than months later.