Crabapple (Malus floribunda) is a tall, spreading tree much loved for its clusters of white and pink spring flowers. They have a spicy fragrance. This deciduous tree, which can grow 4.5-6m high and 3-4m wide, is native to Japan. The leaves colour yellow in autumn. Crabapples can be used as pollinators for productive apple trees but also produce edible fruit, known as crabs, used to make crabapple jelly or for pectin. The fruit is also appealing to birds.
As well as the tall M. floribunda, there are many other smaller species grown in gardens. Check out your local hardware or garden centre for advice and varieties for your area. Here are a few to look out for:
- ‘Crimson Knight’ has deep red to pink flowers and purply bronze new leaves that gradually deepen to green in summer before turning orange in autumn.
- ‘Golden Hornet’ has small yellow fruit which ripen from autumn to early winter. In spring it produces white flowers, it is a stunning small tree for any garden.
- M. ioensis ‘Plena’ which has pink buds opening to double white flowers followed by green fruit. It grows to around 3-4m high and 2-3m wide. Leaves can colour to deep red and gold in autumn.
- Malus ‘Sutyzam’ Sugar Tyme, an easy to maintain small tree with its white showy flowers. It is a vigorous crab apple that looks good throughout the year.
Aspect Crabapples need a bright, sunny location. As flowers can be blown off in strong spring winds, select a sheltered location for long flowering.
Soil These trees grow in a wide range of soils with reliable moisture but good drainage. They prefer a slightly acidic soil. Before planting add home-made compost and organic matter and/or Seasol Super Compost.
Climate Subtropical to cold zones. They thrive in full sun, but are not a fan of hot weather, preferring temperate summers and cold winter.