Crabapples, related to domesticated orchard apples, are of the Malus plant genus. There are some 30 to 35 species and 700 known varieties of crabapple trees that yield showy displays of white, pink and sometimes red blossoms, making them a favorite for ornamental planting. Their tiny apples are too sour to eat raw, but are often used for making pectin and flavorful preserves.
Crabapple buds are often colorful and add to the attraction of a tree as an ornamental. When crabapple buds begin to swell in the spring they are said to be in the 'balloon' stage. The balloon can be purple or red, but open to yield white or pink flowers.
Most varieties of crabapple trees yield pink or white blossoms, or pink blossoms that turn red. Growers have developed some cultivars that produce red blossoms
The color of the crabapple fruit also varies with the cultivar. Some trees produce yellow or orange crabapples. Others produce red fruit. In some cases striking crimson fruit can last well into the winter, a treat for birds.
Crabapple trees are deciduous; they lose their leaves in the fall. The color of fall crabapple leaves varies with the species. Autumn leaves can turn orange, purple or yellow. They can also turn red.
Cultivars with Red Blossoms
Hybrid varieties of crabapple trees are constantly being introduced to the market. Among those cultivars that yield red blossoms are:
• Adirondack flowering crabapple (Malus 'Adirondack') produces white and red blossoms in the spring and orange and red crabapples in the fall.
• Almey crabble (Malus 'Almey') gives purple and red flowers in the spring and purple crabapples in the fall.
• American beauty crabapple (Malus 'American beauty') yields large, deep-red blossoms. It does not set fruit.
• Bob white crabapple (Malus 'Bob White') yields white and red blossoms and yellow fruit.
• Candied crabapple (Malus 'Candied'), also called weeping candied apple, produces pink and red blossoms and red or yellow fruit
• Doubloons flowering crabapple (Malus 'Doubloons') produces red and white blossoms and yellow crabapples.
• Harvest gold crabapple (Malus 'Harvest gold') yields pink, red and white flowers and yellow fruit.
• Prairiefire crabapple (Malus 'Prairie fire') produces purple to red flowers and orange to red fruit.
• Radiant crabapple (Malus 'Radiant') produces large deep pink to red blossoms and red fruit.
Selecting Red Crabapple Trees
Your local garden supply center may sell varieties of flowering crabapple trees that thrive in your growing zone. Commercial cultivars are normally accompanied by an information sheet listing the color of buds, blossoms, fruit and leaves.