Experts and BHG readers answer.
The flower buds are shaped like pointy-tipped balls on short stalks. They appear before the tree leafs out. Flower buds can be damaged by frost or disease. Trees that are stressed by drought or poor nutrition may not set buds. Encourage strong growth by fertilizing twice a year and watering well in dry spells. Take some branch samples to your local nursery and ask the garden staff if they see any disease symptoms.