Crabapple trees are extremely popular decorative trees. In addition, these trees are relatively easy to look after, making them perfect for those who are new to gardening or simply don’t want a high-maintenance garden. This ornamental tree is also particularly suited to colder climates.
If this all sounds appealing to you, then why not plant a crabapple tree in your garden? Keep reading this helpful guide to learn how you can look after this tree.
What is a crabapple tree?
A crabapple tree is a primarily decorative tree that grows small fruit called crabapples. As their name suggests, crabapples are related to regular apples, but they’re much smaller (growing up to two inches in diameter) and taste rather sour. As a result, people don’t often eat them, but this fruit is enjoyed by animals such as squirrels and birds.
Before this fruit starts to grow, flowers bloom on the crabapple tree’s branches in the spring. These blossoms are commonly white, pink, or red, and the beauty of flowering crabapple trees is why they’re such a popular choice for keen gardeners. These trees are also usually small or medium-sized, which is another reason why people love to plant them in their gardens. Despite their small stature, these trees can grow quite quickly (2 feet or more per year), which means they’ll reach their full potential faster than other trees.
As mentioned earlier, crabapple trees thrive in cooler climates. This is because they’re more resistant to cold winters than other spring-flowering trees, so if you’re looking for a hardy tree that can tolerate the cold, a crabapple tree may be the perfect choice for you.
If you do decide to plant a crabapple tree in your garden, then why not look at the selection of available trees at The Tree Center? Here’s what you’ll need to do to keep your new tree healthy.
First, you need to plant your new tree. Find an area of your garden that receives full sunlight – crabapple trees can be more susceptible to disease if they’re grown in the shade, and they should get at least six hours of sun per day. This area shouldn’t be too crowded with other trees and plants since, despite their small size, crabapple trees can be wide-spreading.
Make sure you assess the soil in the area where you’ll be planting your tree. Don’t try to grow a crabapple tree in very wet soil – these trees prefer well-drained soil that’s slightly acidic. To make your soil more acidic and therefore create optimal conditions for your tree, you can add soil amendments. Sulfur will make soil more acidic, and lime will make it more alkaline. You can test your soil with a simple kit to check what it needs.
Then, you can start the planting process. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and three times as wide – crabapple trees often spread out their roots widely. Once you place the tree in the hole and put half of the soil back, you should water the tree thoroughly. After this, add the rest of the soil and water the tree again.
Once you’ve planted your tree, you’ll need to water it regularly while it’s still becoming established. The soil around the tree should remain moist and never dry out completely.
After the first year, your crabapple tree will become more drought-tolerant, which means you won’t have to water it as often. At this point, your tree should ideally receive 1 inch of water per week. Your tree may be able to get this from rainfall alone, but whenever there hasn’t been much rain and the soil is dry, you should water the soil around your tree once a week.
However, since crabapple trees don’t thrive in very wet soil, you’ll also need to make sure your tree doesn’t receive too much rainfall. If the weather is very wet, you should place a plastic sheet or tarp over the tree’s roots to prevent them from becoming too drenched.
Mulching is the process of spreading a layer of mulch (wood chips, leaves, etc.) on the soil around a tree or plant. This reduces the growth of weeds, improves water retention in the soil, and provides extra nutrients, all of which will aid the growth of your crabapple tree. You should apply a 2-inch layer of mulch to the soil around your tree once every spring to keep it healthy.
One of the best things about crabapple trees is that they’re low-maintenance and don’t require much pruning. However, if you want to make your tree a bit neater and more compact, you can trim some of the new shoots and water shoots during the summer. You should also remove any dead branches at this time. Pruning your tree and removing any excess branches and shoots will improve air circulation through the tree, which reduces the risk of diseases.
Avoid pruning your tree after the end of June, as this can reduce the number of flowers and crabapples that grow in the following year. Never prune your crabapple tree during wet weather because this can aid the spread of diseases.
Crabapple trees are a great choice for people who are new to gardening. These trees are easy to maintain, fairly drought-resistant, and don’t require excessive pruning. In addition, these trees produce beautiful flowers, making them a fantastic ornamental tree for your garden.
However, your crabapple tree doesn’t just have to be purely ornamental. Although the crabapples themselves aren’t usually eaten, you could use them to make preserves or, if you produce cider, you can add them to the cider to create a unique flavor. In addition, if you plant crabapple trees next to regular apple trees, they’ll produce more apples since crabapple trees are universal pollinators. As a result, these trees are both beautiful and useful!
If this sounds interesting to you, then don’t hesitate to buy your own crabapple tree and start transforming your garden. Follow the steps listed above to make sure your new tree thrives.