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TREES & Plants

Crabapple cultivars

Crabapples are versatile, small, ornamental trees used in the urban landscape. Crabapples bloom in spring, usually in May, bearing flowers that vary a great deal in color, size, fragrance, and visual appeal. It is common for flower buds to be red, opening to pink or white flowers. The fruit ripens between July and November, and varies in size from ¼”to 2” long or wide. Crabapples thrive in full sun and grow best in well drained, slightly acidic soils (pH 5.5-6.5); however, they will grow well in many soil types. Most crabapple selections tolerate the cold winters and hot, dry summers prevalent in the Midwest. For many years, crabapple cultivars have been selected on the basis of their flowers, but with some cultivars, undesirable features, such as disease problems and early fruit drop, outweigh their short-lived spring beauty. No single cultivar can fulfill every landscaping need. Consider the following information when choosing a crabapple cultivar for your landscape.

Disease resistance should be your first consideration. Many resistant cultivars are available and recommended in order to avoid the most common disease problems. Before making a selection, keep in mind that not all crabapples do well in every location. Disease intensity varies from region to region, and disease strength can vary from year to year. For instance, some crabapples will be more prone to disease susceptibility in areas with greater rainfall than in drier climates. Careful consideration of the following information will be helpful in choosing the right crabapple cultivar. There are four diseases that seriously affect crabapple:

Apple scab is one of the most serious diseases as it leads to early defoliation of the tree. It is a fungal disease, which develops in cool, wet springs. On susceptible crabapples, apple scab causes spotting of the leaves, premature defoliation, and unsightly spots on the fruit. There are numerous cultivars that are resistant or very tolerant (still susceptible but with little defoliation) so choose one based on its resistance.

Cedar-apple rust is a less serious leaf-spotting disease common to our native crabapple cultivars. It is usually a problem in areas where native junipers (Juniperus) are planted. Selecting resistant cultivars can control this disease.

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that can cause considerable damage to leaves and fruit of susceptible cultivars without threatening the health of the tree. Poor air circulation, close association with susceptible apple cultivars, and wet, humid weather conditions will greatly influence disease incidence and severity.

Fire blight is a serious bacterial disease of crabapples. Though it is less common then the others, if left untreated it can be fatal to susceptible crabapple cultivars. Select resistant cultivars.

Crabapples vary greatly in their shape and size. The mature size of the plant should be considered in your selection. The size of the landscape and the surrounding structures will dictate the plant size for a given space.

Trees only produce fruit after they have had flowers. The ornamental fruit of a crabapple puts on a show during the fall and winter. Fruits vary from less than ¼” to 2” in diameter. By definition, Malus trees with fruit larger than 2” are not crabapples, but apples. The best crabapple selections have small fruit, less than one-half inch, with bright, attractive colors (red, orange, and yellow). Some cultivars have showy fruits after hard frost, persisting (staying on the tree) throughout the winter, and providing food for birds. The non-persistent cultivars often produce fruit that can create an unwanted mess, especially when located near a driveway or sidewalk.

Although flowers are usually the first consideration when choosing a crabapple, they should be one of the last. Flowering period is usually short, with bloom length dependent on the weather. Flowers may be single, double, or semi-double and colors vary from white, pink, or red. Flowers also have three distinct stages when blooming, from tight bud to balloon, and full bloom, often changing color with each stage.

Botanical name: 
Malus
All Common Names: 
crabapple, flowering crab, flowering crabapple
Family (English): 
Rose
Family (Botanic): 
Rosaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (foliage falls off)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Growth Rate: 
  • Medium
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Tolerances: 
  • Alkaline soil
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Fragrant
  • Pink
  • Red
  • White
Size Range: 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
Shape or Form: 
  • Oval
  • Pyramidal
  • Rounded
  • Spreading
  • Upright
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Shade
  • Massing
  • Parkway/street
  • Patio/sidewalk
Time of Year: 
  • Mid spring
  • Late spring
  • Late summer
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Crabapples are adaptable to most soil conditions but prefer full sun in moist, well-drained soil.
Light pruning may be required to keep plants healthy or correct structural problems. Thinning crown allows light into center for better flowering.
Remove dead, diseased and crossing branches at any time.
Suckers from the base are problems with many crabapples, prune as close to ground as possible.

Disease, Pests & Problems:

Apple scab, cedar apple rust, fireblight, mildew, borer, scale, and Japanese beetle.

Attracts birds & butterflies

Provides food and nesting sites for many species of birds

Cultivars and their differences 

Adams (Malus 'Adams'):
20 feet high and 20 feet wide; rounded form; rose colored flowers; dark red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (fair), fireblight (excellent), rust (fair), mildew (fair)

Adirondack (Malus 'Adirondack'):
12 feet high and 6 feet wide; narrow, upright form; white flowers; orange red fruit
Disease resistance: scab (excellent), fireblight (excellent), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Beverly (Malus 'Beverly'):
20 feet high and 20 feet wide; rounded form; white flowers, red fruit
Disease resistance: scab (excellent), fireblight (fair), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Calocarpa (Malus x zumi 'Calocarpa'):
25 feet high and 25 feet tall; upright spreading form; white flowers; bright red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (excellent), fireblight (poor), rust (good), mildew (good)

Centurion® (Malus 'Centzam'):
20 feet high and 15 feet wide; narrow, upright form; red flowers; cherry red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (fair), fireblight (excellent), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Coralburst® (Malus 'Coralcole'):
10 feet high and 10 feet tall; rounded form; rose colored flowers; bronze-yellow fruit
Disease resistance: scab (fair), fireblight (excellent), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

David (Malus 'David'):
15 feet high and 15 feet wide; rounded form; white flowers; scarlet red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (good), fireblight (good), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Dolgo (Malus 'Dolgo'):
40 feet high and 30 feet wide; upright, spreading form; white flowers; reddish purple fruit
Disease resistance: scab (excellent), fireblight (good), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Donald Wyman (Malus 'Donald Wyman'):
20 feet high and 20 feet wide; rounded form; white flowers; red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (good), fireblight (excellent), rust (excellent), mildew (good)

Doubloons (Malus 'Doubloons'):
12 feet high and 10 feet wide; rounded form; white flowers; yellow-gold fruit
Disease resistance: scab (poor), fireblight (excellent), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Harvest Gold® (Malus 'Hargozam'):
20 feet high and 15 feet wide; upright form; white flowers; golden yellow fruit
Disease resistance: scab (excellent), fireblight (fair), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Indian Magic (Malus 'Indian Magic'):
20 feet high and 15 feet wide; rounded form; rose pink flowers; red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (poor), fireblight (fair), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Indian Summer (Malus 'Indian Summer'):
18 feet high and 20 feet wide; rounded form; rose red flowers; red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (fair), fireblight (excellent), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Lancelot (Malus x 'Lanzam'):
8 to 10 feet and wide; rounded form; white flowers; persistent gold fruit
Disease resistance : scab (excellent), fireblight (excellent), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Louisa (Malus 'Louisa'):
15 feet high and 15 feet wide; weeping form; pink flowers; yellow fruit
Disease resistance: scab (fair), fireblight (excellent), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Molten Lava® (Malus 'Molazam'):
12 feet high and 15 feet wide; broad weeping form; white flowers; orange red, persistent flowers
Disease resistance: scab (excellent), fireblight (excellent), rust (fair), mildew (excellent)

Pink Princess(Malus 'Parrisi'):
8 feet high and 12 feet wide; low spreading form; rose pink flowers; dark red fruit
Disease resistance: scab (fair), fireblight (fair), rust (fair), mildew (fair)

Prairifire (Malus 'Prairifire):
20 feet high and 20 feet wide; upright, rounded form; dark red flowers; purplish-red fruit
Disease resistance: scab (excellent), fireblight (excellent), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Professor Sprenger (Malus 'Professor Sprenger'):
20 feet high and 20 feet wide; upright spreading form; white flowers; orange red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (excellent), fireblight (excellent), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Profusion (Malus 'Profusion'):
20 feet high and 20 feet wide;  upright, spreading form; rose pink flowers; dark red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (fair), fireblight (fair), rust (excellent), mildew (good)

Purple Prince (Malus 'Purple Prince'):
18 feet high and 18 feet wide; rounded form; rose red flowers; maroon fruit
Disease resistance: scab (good), fireblight (good), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Radiant (Malus 'Radiant'):
25 feet high and 20 feet wide; rounded form; dark pink flowers; red/yellow fruit
Disease resistance: scab (poor), fireblight (excellent), rust (good), mildew (fair)

Red Jade (Malus 'Red Jade'):
12 feet high and 20 feet wide; weeping form; white flowers; red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (poor), fireblight (fair), rust (fair), mildew (fair)

Red Jewel (Malus 'Jewelcole'):
18 feet high and 12 feet wide; upright, rounded form; white flowers; cherry red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (good), fireblight (poor), rust (excellent), mildew (good)

Red Splendor (Malus 'Red Splendor'):
20 feet high and 20 feet wide; upright, rounded form; pink flowers; red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (poor), fireblight (fair), rust (good), mildew (fair)

Robinson (Malus 'Robinson'):
25 feet high and 25 feet wide; upright, spreading form; pink flowers; dark red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (fair), fireblight (good), rust (good), mildew (good)

Royal Raindrops (Malus x 'JFS-KW5'):
15 to 20 feet high and wide; rounded form; pink flowers; maroon-red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (excellent), fireblight (good), rust (good), mildew (good)

Royalty (Malus 'Royalty'):
20 feet high and 15 feet wide; upright, rounded form; crimson purple flowers; red purple fruit
Disease resistance: scab (poor), fireblight (poor), rust (good), mildew (fair)

Tina (Malus sargentii 'Tina'):
3 to 4  feet high and 5 to 6 feet wide; spreading form; white flowers; red fruit
Disease resistance: scab (excellent), fireblight (excellent), rust (excellent), mildew (excellent)

Silver Moon (Malus 'Silver Moon'):
20 feet high and 15 feet wide; upright, rounded form; white flowers; dark red fruit
Disease resistance: scab (poor), fireblight (poor), rust (poor), mildew (poor)

Snowdrift (Malus 'Snowdrift'):
20 feet high and 20 feet wide; rounded form; white flowers; orange red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (poor), fireblight (poor), rust (good), mildew (good)

Spring Snow (Malus 'Spring Snow'):
25 feet high and 22 feet wide; upright, oval form; white flowers; nearly sterile (little to no fruit)
Disease resistance: scab (fair), fireblight (fair), rust (good), mildew (good)

Sugar Tyme® (Malus 'Sutyzam'):
18 feet high and 15 feet wide; upright, spreading form; white flowers; red, persistent fruit
Disease resistance: scab (excellent), fireblight (good), rust (good), mildew (good)

Velvet Pillar(Malus 'Velvetcole'):
20 feet high and 14 feet wide; narrow, upright form; pink flowers; red fruit
Disease resistance: scab (poor), fireblight (fair), rust (fair), mildew (fair)