Historically, crabapples have had their issues, the same kind of issues the we find on our fruiting apple trees: namely, diseases like scab and mildew. Often as not, by the end of summer they could be almost completely defoliated. Over time, breeders have done wonders with flowering crabapples. Nowadays there are many varieties to choose from that have nice form, attractive leaves, beautiful flowers (most with fragrance) and best of all, disease resistance. Here are a few that I would recommend:
Prairiefire: This is a dark purple leafed variety with crimson buds that open to dark pink to almost red flowers. The foliage holds its color well into the summer and the half inch fruits are both attractive and good food for the birds. This tree grows to 20 feet by 20 feet.
Golden Raindrops: Fine textured deeply cut foliage gives this crab a delicate appearance, very different from other crabapples. The tree grow 20 ft tall and only 15 feet wide and boasts star-like profuse of white flowers followed by tiny (only one quarter inch) golden yellow fruit, hence the name golden raindrops.
Royal Raindrops: Same as above only with deep purple foliage, dark pink flowers and red fruit. Same growth habit as well.
Sugar Tyme: Pink buds open to fragrant single white flowers that smother this tree. Small red fruit hangs on through winter to provide good fall and winter interest. Grows 18 feet tall by 15 feet wide.
Klehm’s Improved Bechtel Crabapple: Double flowering and oh so fragrant, this crab blooms later than the rest with soft pink flowers followed by sparse fruit. Grows 20 feet tall by 18 feet wide.
Evereste: Fragrant white flowers open from pink buds in mid April against a foil of mid-green leaves which turn yellow/bronze in the fall. Fruit is flushed yellow, orange and red, one inch in diameter and suitable for making apple butter or cider so this is the only truly edible variety of all these I have mentioned. The tree is small, growing only 10-12 feet tall and as wide.
Maybe it’s time for you to try a flowering crabapple in your garden. They are small, well behaved trees that enjoy full sun, good drainage and an occasional handful of feed and won’t give you grief in the disease department. You can’t say that for most flowering cherries.
Educational opportunity: I like to promote our Saturday classes whenever I can and coming up this Saturday, the 27th, will be a talk by Trevor Cameron on Japanese Maples at the nursery at 10 am. Bring your questions and be prepared to learn more than you ever wanted to know about these fabulous shrubs and trees. Pre-registration is appreciated by calling 425-334-2002 or contacting us online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
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