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Crabapple trees in bloom are a dramatic feature of spring. The blossom
color varies from white and every shade of pink, to deep rose reds. Their appeal is not limited to the flowers. The green canopy is brightened in the fall with yellow, orange, red, or maroon fruit. The architectural branch patterns and attractive bark of crabapples create interesting winter features. They are outstanding trees to beautify the landscape for every season.
Where to Plant
Crabapple trees are sun lovers. Plant them where they will benefit from
at least six hours of sun a day. Fortunately crabapples thrive in the heavy
soil conditions of Central Indiana. They do like good drainage, so choose
a location where the roots will not remain wet. They can take the wind
and cold in stride.
Selection and Disease Resistance
There are several ailments that can affect crabapple trees, but most of the varieties now on the market are disease resistant. When shopping, request a disease resistant variety. If you have an older crabapple variety that is affected by defoliation, several applications of fungicide early in the season will greatly reduce the problem. Raking up and destroying leaves in fall is also helpful for disease prevention.
Care after Planting
Watering: As with most plants, crabapples will benefit from at least an inch of moisture each week. This is particularly crucial during the first year after planting. Set a hose by the trunk and let it trickle slowly for a half-hour as needed. Hot days are very stressful for transplants. A three-inch layer of mulch around the base of the tree will help retain moisture.
Fertilizing: Use only a root stimulator when planting to encourage root growth. Once established, an annual application of a balanced fertilizer is all that is needed.
Pruning: The only pruning needed on a crabapple tree is to remove shoots at the base of the trunk, shoots that grow straight up from lateral branches, or to remove dead or diseased limbs. The best time to prune is in the winter.