Crabapple Tree

All About the Crabapple Tree – [Complete Guide]

If you have ever seen a Crabapple tree, you must have been mesmerized with its beauty. Often called the ‘jewels of the landscape’ the ornamental trees offer a changing look for every season. They are easy to care for and require minimal maintenance.

Above all, they are givers in nature and provide both – shelter and food to birds and other animals all year round!

Continue reading to find out more about the beautiful tree along with tips on how to grow them.

Crabapple Tree Guide Information

Botanical NameMalus Rosaceae
Common NameFlowering Crabapple
Native CountriesNorth America, Asia, Europe
Hardiness Zone4 to 8 (Click herehere to check the hardiness zone in your area)
Blooming PeriodMid to Late Spring
Average Height15 – 20 ft.
ExposureFull Sun
Soil TypeChalk, Clay, Sand
Soil pHAcidic with pH level of 6.0 – 7.0
Soil ConditionMoist with good drainage
WaterPlentiful
Resistance toDroughts

Crabapple Flower Color for Every Season!

Crabapple Flower Color

The Crabapple tree is renowned for creating a visual display 12-months of the year. During the spring season, these trees are the first to bloom in shades ranging from white to cream and light pink to luxurious red. The air also fills with the Crabapple fragrance, creating a welcoming environment for the humans and fauna alike.

After just about four weeks, the colorful flowers are replaced by small fruits. The edible fruit is commonly relished by birds and wildlife. However, we humans can also enjoy the tart fruit by combining them in recipes to prepare jams and jellies.

Upon the arrival of the fall months, the green foliage transforms into vibrant shades of orange and red – until they drop before the arrival of winter, when you see only fruit standing intact against the bare branches and stem. The fruit lasts well till the end of winter months, providing a feasty meal to the birds and animals.

The Varieties of Crabapple Fruits

Varieties of Crabapple Fruits

Generally, the apples grown on these trees are smaller than our regular apples – around 2 cm, while some varieties produce fruits in even smaller sizes. The Crabapple flower color and the matured height of the tree also depends on the type of tree you choose for your landscape.

Some of the common types of Crabapple plants include:

Malus ‘Brandywine’

This is a medium sized plant with an approximate growing height of 15-20 ft. The flowers in this tree produce double blooms in shades of pink and red with their run lasting around four weeks.

The fruit of the tree is yellow, but has a tendency to fall quicker than other varieties of Crabapples.  This may create a mess in your garden, and I recommend not planting this variety near pathways or street side.

Malus ‘White Angel’

As the name implies, this variety of Crabapple blooms all-white flowers with red-colored fruits. Unlike the ‘Brandywine,’ the fruits on this tree stay hanging for a good time – even in the winter months.

The ‘White Angel,’ is also hardier than the others and is resistant to some of the common diseases that affect Crabapples.

Malus ‘Coralburst’

If you are looking for a tree to plant in your small garden, check out the Malus ‘Coralburst’ variety. This is one of the most compact, ornamental tree with an average mature height of 8 – 10 ft. You can even grow it in a container. But make sure to keep it in a position with full sun exposure and well-draining soil.

The tree makes a breathtaking sight as well with pink colors blooming in coral-colored blooms. Fruits of rust-orange color typically appear at the end of summer and continue to hang till late fall.

Malus ioensis ‘Prince Georges’

Similar to the ‘Coralburst,’ the ‘Prince Georges’ Crabapple plant is compact with an average height of 10 – 15 ft. The interesting feature of this plant is that it does not produce any fruit so if you are looking for a tree that only creates a visual display – this one is for you!

And what a display it creates with its double flowers of light pink color – with up to 60 petals each!

Malus x Xomi ‘Golden Hornet’

This tree is suitable for large gardens and ideally should be grown amongst other fruit-bearing trees. They flower quiet late, typically blooming white blossoms at the end of spring.

The flowers are later replaced by bright golden yellow apples of around 1 inches. The ‘Golden Hornet’ enjoys partial shade and full sun equally while a moderately fertile soil composition is preferred for best growth.

Malus ‘Camelot’

At 10 ft. tall, the ‘Camelot’ features white blossoms from light pink buds. These eventually turn into dark purple fruits that thrive well in full sun and well-draining soil mixture.

The thick leaves of this tree have a leathery texture and transform from purple hue in spring to vibrant green and ultimately orange in the autumn season. The ‘Camelot’ is a hardy species and requires minimal maintenance.

Malus ‘Charlottae’

The medium-sized tree displays pastel-pink flowers that start their blooming period in late spring or even in the early days of summer. Its fruit is petite in size and available in colors of yellow and green. It is enjoyed mainly by the birds and usually don’t last till the winter.

The Malus ‘Charlottae’ is not at all fussy and does considerably well in heavy clay with adequate drainage.

Malus x moerlandsii ‘Profusion’

One of the tallest type of Crabapple tree, you can expect this one to reach up to 30 ft. in height. The pink blossoms appear in the spring with miniature-sized fruit that last well till the end of winter. This tree hardly drops any fruit during the giving period and so you don’t have to deal with any mess on the ground.

The leaves of this tree are one of its most admirable quality and creates a blend of colors throughout the year. They start out as burgundy in the spring and later turn to brown and then green in the summer. As the autumn months kick in, the leaves turn a yellowish-orange shade and finally develop a red hue before falling off in the winter season.

Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’

Winner of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, the compact tree produces full white blooms and deep pink buds. Unlike other types of Crabapple plants, this tree starts its blooming period close to the end of spring, along with the leaves.

The fruit of this tree is vibrant red with a glossy texture and resembles a mini red apple that we normally eat. Easy to maintain, the ‘Red Sentinel’ is resistant to some of the common diseases that affect fruit producing varieties.

Growing a Crabapple Plant

Growing a Crabapple Plant

Crabapples are suitable for planting in every garden as you can choose a cultivator according to the size of the garden. However, most people choose to grow Crabapples for their aesthetic value and consider the coloring of the flowers thoroughly.

Very little thought is given to the fruits as they are mainly devoured by birds and other animals. Though to avoid a messy garden, I always suggest choosing a Crabapple variety that is able to hold fruit for longer periods.

The Crabapple fragrance is another key element to look for when choosing a tree for your garden. Most Crabapples give off a wonderful and exotic fragrance of apple, cinnamon, and even cloves – while there are a few that don’t have any.

Check out the Malus ‘Charlottae’ and the ‘Brandywine’ if you are looking for trees with the best fragrance.

Soil

A rich soil with adequate drainage is important for Crabapples. Mix organic compost to your soil before planting to provide the tree with a head-start on the nutrients. This will also enhance its draining abilities and even help improve them as your plant grows.

Fertilization is not mandatory when it comes to apple trees. But to encourage healthy growth, use natural mulch such as wood chips to keep the soil nutrient-rich. A light application of compost around the tree roots in spring and fall can keep the plant thriving all year round.

Watering

A young Crabapple needs plenty of water. In fact, pay attention to the soil and keep it continuously moist but do ensure the soil is well-draining to avoid rot.

I always recommend adding mulch around the base of trees that require frequent watering to contain moisture. This way, the water is less prone to evaporating and you can limit the watering sessions to twice a week.

Luckily, an established tree does not require much watering as it is very drought resistant. And much of the water it needs is usually met by the rainfall along with occasional sprinkles in the dry season.

Light

Most cultivators of Crabapple need to be position in full sun. You can also grow them in a shaded position – but remember, those trees will produce very less fruit. There colorings and mature size will not develop to its full extent as well.

The best time to plant the apple trees is early spring, when the temperatures are mild. Choose a spot at a distance from other trees and not too close to a foundation. Plant them away from pathways, patio, and sidewalk – especially if you choose a fruit-bearing tree.

Temperature

The trees of Crabapple prefer areas with warm summer and cold winter with a hardiness zone of 4 to 8.  They are generally grown in Northern parts of America and Canada, England, and mild regions of Europe.

However, look out for sudden shifts in the weather such as late frost that can kill blossom and heavy rain, which may lead to root decay and delay the tree’s growth.

Pruning

Although the Crabapple is not at all fussy, every plant can benefit from a regular pruning session. Just snip off any suckers that appear and cut away the damaged braches and leaves. But do avoid pruning in the late June as this can dramatically reduce the numbers of fruits and flowers that appear in the following season.

Crabapple Disease Resistance

Crabapple Disease

Just like other fruit-bearing trees, the Crabapple disease resistance is very low and is susceptible to several types of ailments. Unfortunately, persisting diseases can cause early defoliation, disfigurement, and weakening in trees.

In this case, choosing a disease resisting cultivator should be your first priority. Keep in mind that not all Crabapples do well in every location. The intensity of the disease can also vary according to the geographical location as well as the climate changes.

The four common diseases include:

Powdery Mildew

Usually appearing in mid-summer, the powdery mildew can be identified by patches of powder of greyish-white that appear in both – leaves and fruits. This can be controlled by low toxic fungicides. You can also choose horticulture oils such as neem oils, jojoba oil, and spray oils specifically formulated for trees.

Fireblight

Fireblight is a highly infectious disease caused by a bacterium called the Erwinia amylovora. It can be classified by the brown and scorched appearance of the trunk, blossoms, and branches.

Fireblight does not occur very frequently but when it does attack the Crabapple tree, expect the results to be very destructive. There is also no cure for the disease, especially if the infection spreads to the trunk of the tree. In this case, your only remedy is to remove the tree completely.

Some experts do recommend pruning the affected areas but this is only doable if the disease is in its infancy stage.

Cedar-Apple Rust

This disease often occurs if you plant Cedar trees too close to the apple variety. Bloated orange spots on the leaves, fruits, and branches are the primary symptom of Cedar-Apple rust. Foliage with severe form of disease will turn bright yellow and drop prematurely.

Removing the infected leaves and fruits can potentially solve the issue. You can also try spraying the apple trees with copper to treat the rust and prevent spreading of infections.

Apple Scab Disease

If you find the leaves of Crabapple turning brown and falling in the mid of summer – chances are your tree is infected with the apple scab. This is very common in apple trees, especially in areas with rainy spring.

There is no way to save the infected leaves but you can protect new foliage and encourage healthy growth by spraying them with fungicides.

Are Crabapples Toxic?

Crabapples Toxic

Crabapple fruits are generally not toxic and can safely be consumed by humans. However, the cores of Crabapples contain seeds with small amounts of cyanogen glycoside. Swallowing a few seeds by accident won’t do any harm but make sure to remove the core and the seeds to avoid any ill effects.

When it comes to creating a pet-friendly garden, some varieties of Crabapple can possess a threat. According to experts at the ASPCA, eating a lot of Crabapples can cause discomfort and even poisoning in animals – especially dogs.

Wrapping it up!

Ready to plant your own Crabapple tree? Let us know in the comments below the variety of Crabapple you have and the experience with it. Lastly, don’t forget to share this page with other gardeners so they can enjoy learning about Crabapples and other plants with Gardening Limited!

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