Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
May, 2001
Regional Report

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The 'Adams' crabapple sports luscious, rich, deep pink blooms.

All About Crabapples

Every spring, I admire the glorious apple orchards near my home. There's something satisfying in the orderly rows of trees covering the rolling hillsides spread as far as you can see. When the apples bloom, there are flowers everywhere and you can literally hear the humming of countless bees working the blossoms. The white and pale pink flowers are a perfect complement for the blue skies and fresh new green growth across the countryside. To bring a little bit of that pastoral scene home, I planted several crabapple trees in my garden. Now, I'm enjoying them in full bloom and can listen to the bees hum right in my own back yard.

Worth Planting

Crabapple trees have gotten a bum rap over the years. People think of them as fruit-dropping, bee-attracting, disease-ridden monstrosities in the landscape. That's a shame. Modern varieties are often disease- and pest-resistant and beautiful.

Crabapple Sizes

Your choices of varieties of crabapples are almost unlimited. There are even crabapple varieties that hold on to their fruit and don't make a mess on your patio. There are crabapple trees to fit almost any size planting space. Some can grow to thirty feet tall and wide, while others only grow to a dwarf 8- to 10-feet tall. Tree shapes range from upright to spreading to weeping.

Crabapple Flowers

Crabapple flowers can be white, almost any shade of pink imaginable, and even red. Some varieties have sweetly fragrant flowers that are single or double. The ornamental fruits that come after the flowers range in color and size and are great treats for wildlife. Most crabapples are green-leafed, but there are varieties with coppery or reddish foliage, too.

Growing Crabapples

Crabapple trees grow to a predictable size and shape, bloom in great profusion, and are generally low maintenance. They grow best in full sun and well-drained, fertile soil. They require little care other than removing the occasional suckers that grow up from the rootstock. Crabapples are drought tolerant once established and most are winter hardy to USDA zone 4.

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