Crabapple trees are flowering deciduous trees that produce fruit similar to that of apples, only much smaller. They are related to apple trees and differ primarily in the size of the fruit. Miniature crabapple trees are more commonly called "dwarf" crabapples. These smaller-sized trees are either genetically smaller, or they are full-sized crabapples grafted onto dwarf root stock in order to limit the tree's size at maturity.
Miniature or dwarf crabapples rarely exceed 10 feet in height. Often, a miniature crabapple tree's canopy will exceed the height of the tree. Malus "Pink Princess," for example, is a dwarf crabapple that has a maximum height of 8 feet, with a width of up to 15 feet, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Like all crabapples, miniature crabapples bloom in the spring with a profusion of bright pink, light pink or purple flowers. In the summer, the leaves may be green or a deep burgundy, depending on the cultivar.
Miniature crabapple trees thrive in cooler climates, although their temperature hardiness can vary widely depending on the type. In general, dwarf crabapples grow best in United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, according to the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Weather that is too hot may cause the tree to flower too early, while very cold climates can cause frost damage.
Miniature crabapple trees thrive in full sun and can still bloom well even in partial shade, according to Colorado State University. These trees can grow in almost any type of soil as long as it is well-draining. Dwarf crabapple trees need between 15 and 20 inches of water per year and should be pruned annually to remove tight angles and diseased or broken wood.
Miniature crabapple trees are an excellent choice for areas where full-sized trees won't fit well, such as under power lines or in small home gardens. They are perfect specimen trees and look especially beautiful near water, such as ponds, where their colorful flowers can be reflected. These hardy trees are also low maintenance, which makes them good for use in parking lots or along roadsides.
There are many cultivars, or types, of miniature crabapple trees. "Camelot" has a maximum height of around 10 feet, according to the University of Missouri, with striking, bright pink flowers that are edged in white. "Sargent" features pink buds that fade to white when opened. This dwarf variety of crabapple grows to only 8 feet tall. The flowers are single, meaning that they have only five petals. The leaves are dark green. "Sargent Tina" is a cultivar that grows to only 5 feet tall, with a width of 6 feet. This miniature crabapple grows on multiple trunks, like a shrub.