Ways To Tell if Your Peach Tree Is a Goner: 7 Signs of Death

Have you ever inspected your peach tree and wondered if it is reaching the end of its lifespan or if it has already perished?

The thing with peach trees is that signs of life, or death for that matter, are rather deceptive. For all you know, the tree could just be dormant. It’s hard to tell sometimes unless you know what you’re looking for. 

Is my peach tree dead? You can tell that a peach tree is dead when it fails to grow leaves in the spring. The branches of the tree die, and large sections of the bark start falling off. The trunk itself will decay, and many branches fall on their own. Termites attack the decaying trunk, and eventually, the tree will lean to one side.

While not all of those signs will appear all at once, you can still detect whether the peach tree is dead or just dormant.

Read more to find out how to tell the difference and what to do with a dead peach tree.

Dealing with peach tree problems shouldn’t be a guessing game. Learn how to pinpoint specific issues and resolve them quickly in my comprehensive guide, Peach Tree Diseases, Pests and Problems.

How To Tell if Peach Tree Is Dead

Before you take the drastic step of cutting the peach tree down, you need to first make sure that the tree is really dead.

There are 7 signs that tell you for sure that your peach tree is no longer part of this world. Here are these signs arranged by severity.

1. No Leaves in Spring or Summer

Spring comes and goes and summer is already here, but not a single leaf has emerged on the branches of the peach tree. If the tree was dormant, it should be fully awake by now and ready to show some green color.

The lack of leaves is usually a good indication that the tree is no longer alive, but you need to conduct a few more tests on the tree before declaring it legally dead.

2. No Living Branches

The next sign to look for if you want to ascertain whether the tree is dormant or dead is to give the branches the bending test.

A living branch is supple and is not hard to twist or bend. A dead branch will break easily when bent.

Grab a low-hanging branch, and give it a good twist or bend it into a U shape. If it snaps quickly and easily, check the heart of the branch.

A dead branch will not have green under the bark and is usually dry with zero moisture under the bark. 

3. Large Sections of Bark Falling Off

Because the bark is a living part of the tree, the peach tree will often repair any scratches or damage in the bark, but a dead peach tree will not.

The dry, dead bark will crack and then come off the trunk in large sections.

When you inspect the trunk, you won’t find any new bark growing to replace the falling parts. That means you’re looking at a dead tree.

4. Multiple Branches Falling Off

Although a dormant peach tree can lose sections of its bark and take its time to replace them, the same can’t be said about losing several branches at a time.

A thunderstorm could break a few branches at once, but when there hasn’t been as much as a breeze lately and the peach tree still drops a few branches overnight, that could be a serious sign of death.

5. Trunk Decay

Once the bark abandons the tree, the bare trunk becomes exposed to the elements. That’s when you’ll notice signs of decay. Mold and other fungal infections spread quickly, and the trunk shows cracks and other signs of decay.

At this point, you can be almost sure that the tree hasn’t drawn an ounce of moisture or nutrients from the soil for a long while.

6. Presence of Termites and Other Decomposers

A dead peach tree is an open invitation for termites and other grubs that feast on dead wood and accelerate its decomposition.

The dead tree becomes a living hub of all kinds of crawlers that burrow holes in the dead branches and eat the tree from the inside out.

If you don’t act quickly, you put the other trees and bushes in the garden at risk.

7. Tree Is Leaning to One Side

With no live trunk to keep the peach tree standing upright and the roots rotting away beneath the soil, the tree finally begins to lean under its own sheer weight.

This is the final call for you to do the humane thing and cut down the tree.

Eventually, the tree will fall on its own with the first gust of strong wind, or it might continue to lean stubbornly like a condemned building that just won’t do the right thing and go down.

A dying peach tree surrounded by healthy ones in an orchard.

Peach Tree Life Span

As far as fruit trees go, the peach tree has a short life span. It’s not just that the peach tree will stop fruiting after a certain age. It will die standing without you even noticing.

It takes the tree about 12 years to reach the end of its life span. There’s nothing you can do to prolong its life. It’s in the tree’s genes to have a short and fulfilling life.

Dormant vs. Dead Trees – How To Check

It’s often tricky to tell if the peach tree is dead or just taking a long nap in the winter. To be fair, the tree looks dead when it’s just dormant and looks dormant when it’s passed on.

So don’t believe your eyes, as they might be lying to you. Instead, do one or more of the following.

  1. Bend the small branches and twigs of the tree. If they snap easily and are dry, the tree is dead.
  2. Look for signs of decay or decomposition on the trunk of the tree.
  3. Check for termites running freely on the bare trunk.
  4. Watch for bark that is coming off the trunk in large sections.

If you see one or more of these signs, that means the tree is most likely dead. Still, you should wait until the spring and wait for leaves just to be sure.

What To Do With a Dead Tree

A dead tree should be removed as soon as possible for safety reasons and to protect your other trees and gardens from disease, pests, and damage should the tree fall.

If you have no experience felling trees, bring in a professional to do the job for you.

There’s a lot you can do with a dead tree as long as you cut it before it has decayed and termites have attacked it.

You can use it for wood chips and mulch if you have the machinery. You can use it as lumber and satisfy your woodwork DIY projects. If you have a fireplace, you can cut the tree up for firewood.

Related Questions:

When Is a Tree Considered Dead?

A tree is considered dead when it no longer grows leaves or shoots. When its branches are dead and falling off, no new growth is present, and termites have made the trunk their home, you can be sure the tree is gone. 

Do Dead Trees Attract Termites?

Termites are attracted to dead trees and will attack them and speed up their decomposition. They eat the dead tree from the inside and leave little piles of powder-like substance under each hole they make in the trunk.

By the time they’re done, the tree will be hollowed out and waiting for a strong wind to bring it down.

Closing Thoughts

Look for signs of dead branches, bare sections on the trunk, termites, and the absence of leaves in the spring or summer before you declare the peach tree dead.

Once you have determined that the tree is indeed dead, remove it as soon as possible.

If your tree still has signs of life, it’s important to be knowledgeable about issues that commonly plague the peach tree so you can save your tree. Learn more by reading these guides next: