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How to Grow Crab Apple Fruit Trees

Crab Apple trees are a fruit tree, which is very popular as a landscaping ornamental. Homeowners like them for the profusion of fragrant flowers, that have a long lasting spring bloom.

Crab Apples are a deciduous tree, with over 500 varieties. They grow 15 - 25 feet tall, depending upon variety. The flowers are various shades of red, and white.

By definition, a Crab Apple tree, is any tree that produces fruit less than 2 inches in diameter. The fruit is varying shades of red, or yellow. Crab apples are edible, with a tart flavor. People who collect the fruit for consumption, most often use them for jellies. Birds and squirrels seek these small fruits in the fall, too. 

Did You Know? The seeds are called "pips".

Propagation of Crab Apple Trees:

Crab Apple trees are propagated from seeds. Collect the seeds from ripe fruit in the fall. Wash the seeds. Then, dry them on a screen or drying rack for 2-3 weeks. The seeds require a cold chilling period, called "stratification", for 3 months or longer. Place dried seeds in a baggie and place them in the refrigerator, or another cold location like a garage or shed. But importantly, do not place  them where the seeds may freeze.

You can also propagate them from cuttings.

Nowadays, most people buy young trees from a garden store, or online.

Buy Crab Apple Trees

Planting Crab Apple Trees:

Transplant young crab apple tree saplings into your yard or garden in the spring or summer. Most likely, the container of the tree you purchased, is made of a bio-degradable, heavy peat material. After planting, it will soften and break down in the moist soil, allowing the roots to easily penetrate it and grow. If the container is plastic or some other material, you need to carefully remove the roots from it during planting.

If you are growing more than one tree, space them 10 - 20 feet apart.

Dig a hole about three times as big and deeper than the root ball. Mix in plenty of rich compost into the hole, along with fresh,  rich soil.

If it is in a peat container, cut slits in the container to speed up its decomposition, and to help the roots to emerge easier.

Plant the tree to a depth equal to where it is in the container. Do not plant it deeper.

Fill in around the roots with a mixture of compost and soil. Tamp down the soil lightly around the tree.

If planted in a windy area, stake the tree so it will grow straight.

Water well and deeply in the first year. Repeat deep watering frequently, to help new roots to grow and spread.

Ideal pH level: 6.0 - 7.5

How to Grow Crab Apple Trees:

Grow crab apple trees in full sun. Shaded trees produce a less dense foliage, and fewer flowers and fruit. Shade also makes them more susceptible to plant disease.

Once your crab apple tree is established, it should grow well with little attention.

Using fruit tree fertilizer spikes for the first few years, will help young trees to get off to fast, healthy start.

The roots grow deeply. Established trees usually do not need extra water.

Mulch around the tree, to keep weeds, down and maintain an attractive appearance.

Pruning Crab Apple Trees:

Like other plants, pruning your crab apple tree is healthy for it. This should be done during late winter to early spring, before the new year's growth begins.  

Prune the tree yearly, to remove dead or unhealthy branches and limbs. You can also prune branches to maintain a shapely looking tree.

Annual pruning will help keep your tree smaller and more manageable, too.

Each spring, before buds open, apply a dormant oil fruit tree spray. This will kill a variety of insects. Apply a fruit tree spray frequently during the season, if you have problems with insects or disease. Follow the directions on the label for application and use.


Like other apple trees, Crab Apples plant disease is common.  Regular use of fruit tree sprays and fungicides will minimize this potential problem.

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About this Fruit:
Crab Apple



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