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How to Choose the Right Crabapple Tree

Posted by Sam Hanauer on Jul 26, 2017 3:27:43 PM

I always tell my customers that the three main criteria that you should consider when choosing the right crabapple tree for your yard is flower color, berry retention, and disease resistance. You may find a cultivar that you like based solely on the color of its flower, but if you don’t consider all facets of my three criteria, you may just end up with an unhealthy tree   that lacks winter interest.

Crabapple tree

Flower Color

Flowering crabapples are known for the high impact of their flowers. They generally flower in May before the lilacs, and the flowers last for 1 1/2- 2 weeks. Crabapple trees come in an assortment of different colors and can provide a beautiful way to accentuate certain parts of your yard. You can find cultivars that flower in a variety of shades, ranging from red, orange, purple, and white. It’s up to you to decide what splash of color you’d like to add to your landscaping, but remember that it’s important to pick a tree based on more than just the aesthetic appeal that their flowers provide.

Berry Retention

If you would like a flowering crabapple but do not want berries, there are sterile varieties.  However, the flowers usually only last 1 1/2 - 2 weeks while the berries can last a lot longer and provide another level of winter interest. The fruits of some crabapples begin to color in August and others don’t begin to color until September. Additionally, some cultivars drop their ripened fruit while others hold their fruit until spring, which provides a great way for you to attract migrating birds to your yard.

Disease Resistance

Flowers for crabapples are generally all great.  Berry retention is important, but choosing a healthy, disease resistant variety is of greater importance. Different plants will stand up to diseases in different ways. When picking your plant, I’d highly recommend paying close attention to their respective abilities to resist common diseases, such as Apple Scab, Fire blight, and Cedar Apple Rust.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite cultivars and their respective colors and capabilities when it comes to berry retention and disease resistance.


Species

Berry Retention

Apple Scab Resistance

Fire blight Resistance

Cedar Apple Rust Resistance

Prairie Fire (Red)

Excellent (Persistent)

Good

Excellent

Good

Purple Prince (Rose Red)

Excellent

Excellent

Excellent

Good

Red Jewel (White)

Excellent

Good

Excellent

Fair

 

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