Pruning a Flowering Crab Apple Tree


The flowering crab apple, or Malus, is a small, deciduous tree that typically does not grow taller than 40 feet. The leaves are around 4 inches long and have a serrated edge. The flowers bloom in early spring and vary in color from pink to red and white. The fruit of the crab apple is extremely sour and rarely eaten raw but is frequently used in jams and cider. The tree prefers full sun and moist soils and is easy to care for.

Step 1

Remove all dead and diseased limbs with a sharp pruning saw or pruning sheers. The tool you use should be sharp so that you can make clean cuts.

Step 2

Trim away the branches conservatively. If you remove too many of the newer branches, it will effect fruit production. Try to leave as many branches as you can.

Step 3

Thin out branches that are overcrowded or branches that are crossing over each other. Too many branches near the top can prevent light from reaching the center of the tree. Remove branches that are hanging low to the ground and are close enough for you to reach. These can be cut with a hand saw close to the main trunk in a downward 45-degree angle.

Step 4

Cut off approximately one-half to three-quarters of the new growth at the top of the tree in order to control the height and maintain shape

Step 5

Snip off any new suckers that have sprouted up at the base of the tree. Use a hand saw to cut these flush with the trunk.

Step 6

Rake under the tree to gather up the fallen fruit and the limbs that have been trimmed away. Dispose of these to prevent disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Rake
  • Hand saw
  • Pruning sheers
  • Ladder


  • Northeastern State: Pruning Trees
  • Barron County Extension: Flowering Crabapple
Keywords: crab apple tree, flowering crab apple, pruning crab apple

About this Author

Melanie Hammontree is a member of the Society for Professional Journalists and has been writing since 2004. Works include publications with "Hall County Crime Examiner," "Player's Press" and "The Gainesville Times." Hammontree has a Master of Business and is working on a Master of Journalism from the University of Tennessee.