Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
May, 2005
Regional Report

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This pink crab apple has radiant blossoms in spring, and is an attractive, small to medium-sized shade tree the rest of the season.

Flowering Crab Apples Brighten the Landscape

Whether it's the soft-pink blossoms and attractive gray bark of the Bechtel crab apple, the canopy of delicate white blossoms of the Newport plum, double scarlet blooms and scarlet fruit of Paul's scarlet hawthorn, or the striking pink blossoms of a redbud tree in early spring, flowering ornamental trees are a welcome addition to the landscape.

Flowering trees enhance the landscape by providing beauty with their colorful flowers, some of which are fragrant as well, and many produce fruit to provide food for wildlife. Generally they are smaller than traditional shade trees and are adaptable to many situations, even in smaller landscape settings.

Flowering crab apples in our region are generally susceptible to diseases including fireblight. Though there is no one crab apple that is totally resistant to fireblight because there are new strains of the disease showing up, there are some good varieties that have a lower incidence of the disease.

Top Picks
Some varieties with good ornamental characteristics and fairly good fireblight resistance include:

'Bob White' - This tree has rounded, dense growth habit and produces cherry-colored buds that fade to white. The fruit is 1 to 2 inches in size and yellow to yellow-brown and persists for a long period. Minor fireblight has been observed on this variety.

'Centurion' - This tree has upright growth when young that becomes rounded at maturity. It produces red flowers in bud that open to rose-red, followed by 1/2-inch glossy red fruit that persists. Good fireblight resistance but some leaf chlorosis has been observed.

'Coralburst' - This variety has a compact, dense, and rounded form that is often grown as a large shrub or small tree. It produces coral pink buds that open to a rose color. Red fruit is 1/2 inch in size and somewhat persistent. Good fireblight resistance.

'David' - A tree with vigorous growth habit and rounded when mature. It has pink to white flowers and an abundance of red fruit about 1/2 inch in size. Some fireblight has been observed.

'Indian Summer' - This tree has a broad overall growth habit and nice color in fall. Flowers are rosy red and the 3/4-inch fruit is bright red. Fireblight is minimal.

'Profusion' - A beautiful tree with purplish foliage that fades to bronze, with single, deep red flowers that fade to pink. Dark maroon, 1/2-inch fruit is very persistent.

'Robinson' - This tree has more of an upright-spreading growth pattern with single crimson flower buds that open with pink flowers. Fruit is dark red, about 1/2 inch in diameter and very abundant but can often be hidden by the foliage.

'Zelkirk' - The growth habit is more roundish with an abundance of deep pink flowers and glossy, red, 3/4-inch fruit. Some fireblight has been observed.

So if you desire to plant a crab apple or two to add spring beauty and persistent fruit over the fall and winter, shop around to find some handsome and adaptable varieties. The overwintering birds will be most appreciative for the extra source of food.

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