Crab apple trees enhance many areas of the landscape with their attractive blossoms in the spring and masses of small, red fruits in the fall. These trees commonly maintain a mature height around 25 feet, but some grow as tall as 40 feet in favorable conditions. The fruit of the crab apple tree tastes slightly bitter, giving this tree its name. Some gardeners harvest the edible fruit for use in jams and jellies, while others allow birds and wildlife to consume the tiny apples. Like all plants, crabapple trees require certain planting procedures and growing conditions to thrive and flourish in the landscape.
Test the soil in the landscape before planting the crab apple tree with a pH kit, available at most garden centers and hardware stores.
Plant the tree in a bright, sunny area. Remove weeds and other varieties of existing vegetation. Prepare the soil for the tree by loosening the topsoil with a garden shovel.
Prepare the soil before the tree arrives. Add the recommended soil amendments, according to soil test results. Work amendments into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil with a shovel.
Plant the crabapple tree in the spring. Do not allow the roots to dry out before planting. Dampen the roots upon arrival with a little water from a garden hose.
Dig holes deep enough to allow the surface of the rootball to sit level with the surrounding surface. Make the holes about twice the width of the new tree. Remove the rootballs from the containers carefully. Cut through any outer roots that circle the rootballs with knife or pruning shears.
Set the rootballs in the holes and fill in with the removed soil. Press the soil down over the roots with light pressure. Soak the soil around the flowering crab trees.
Place a 2-inch layer of mulch such as clean straw around the base of the apple tree to help hold in soil moisture. Allow a 4 to 5 inches between the trunks of the trees and the surrounding layer of mulch to guarantee adequate airflow near the base of the trees.
Apply about 1 inch of water to the young flowering crab tree once each week to ensure healthy amounts of moisture near the roots.