The Flowering Crab Apple Tree is one of the most beautiful decorative trees. Crab Apple Trees have pretty flowers in the spring and gorgeous little apples in the autumn. They make a lovely feature in your garden and provide food for wildlife. The crab apples can also be used for delicious jellies.
The crab tree though has even more hidden values. This pretty ornamental tree can be a great pollinator for your eating apple trees and can help increase the yields of your fruit trees!
The pollen of a flowering crab tree is able to fertilize the flowers of eating apples so it is a good idea to plant them near your other trees.
Wild crab apples are natives to Europe, Asia and North-America. As ornamentals for gardens though the hybrids are the most common choice. The flowering season of these modern hybrids is definitely a highlight in any garden!
In the autumn the crab apple trees surprise us again with their colorful little fruits. Depending on the variety they vary in size, shape and color.
Particularly wild birds benefit from those late fruits that provide food for them when there is little else available.
The pretty flowers also vary depending on variety. They can be white, pink or red. Double flowered varieties are also available.
These flowering ornamental trees can reach a hight of 19-26 ft m. They have a bushy habit often with a broad pyramid shape. They are frost hardy and tolerate urban climate and pollution.
Choose a sunny spot for your flowering crab apple tree. These trees are in general easy to grow and tolerate a wide range of soils. A moist but well drained, humus rich soil is best for them. They prefer a pH of 5 to 6.5.
Diseases like fire blight, mildew and rust can be problem. There is an easy solution for this though: choose disease-resistant varieties! The varieties shown below are very healthy and show good disease resistance.
Photo: Rupert Brun
These trees do not require much pruning. Trim them only if you feel that they are outgrowing their space.
Trimming crab apple trees is best done during winter or very early spring. Remove old and diseased wood and reduce the overall amount of branches by about a third. Always keep the natural shape of the tree in mind. A well pruned tree does not look chopped or unnatural. It should still have its natural habit after pruning.
Always remove the straight shoots that appear right above the ground level. These are produced by the rootstock and are below the graft. They will weaken the tree and you will end up with a wild tree if these shoots are not taken off.
I want to show you how to grow lettuce even if you don't have a garden for growing vegetables!
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Check out the November 2017 issue of the 'Homestead Gardener' Digital Magazine for organic gardening tips, permaculture and self-sufficiency.