How to Prune a Flowering Crabapple Tree

Overview

Crabapple trees have beautiful pink flowers in the spring, which develop into small apple-like fruit in the summer and fall, depending on the type. Although some can get taller, most types of crabapples grow to between 15 and 25 feet tall. There are a variety of types to choose from including weeping crabapples and self-shaping pyramid types. Pruning in most cases is the same, with a few pruning based on type.

Step 1

Cut out dead branches at the trunk. Cut the branch with a tree trimmer or loppers depending on its diameter. If using loppers, snip just a little out from the trunk so that you leave a nub. This will keep you from accidentally damaging the trunk. If the branch is bigger and needs a tree trimmer, make a cut on the bottom of the branch about a foot from the tree and through about a third of the underside of the branch. Then cut on the top of the branch about an inch out from the under cut. Make the upper cut go all the way through. The branch will generally snap off before you are through. Once done, make a third cut slightly out from the trunk. With less weight on the branch, you will be able to saw all the way through without the branch snapping and tearing.

Step 2

Trim diseased branches at least six inches back from the problem area and well into healthy wood. This will insure that you get all of the disease. Cut at a notch in the limb.

Step 3

Cut down one of the sides of a fork if it forms near the base of the tree. Select the one that is thinner, weaker or has fewer branches. This will keep your tree growing straight. Do the same in the top of the tree if the trunk forks further up.

Step 4

Cut off suckers that grow below the main branching system as well as those growing vertical up into the tree. They are not needed and just pull nutrients away from the rest of the tree. Cut off in the same manner as dead limbs.

Step 5

Trim back new grow branches with loppers, cutting no more that 25 or 30 percent of the new growth. Make these cuts in early spring before the tree blooms. When cutting, make the cut just above a bud.

Things You'll Need

  • Tree trimmer
  • Loppers

References

  • North Dakota State University Extension: Questions on Crabapples
  • This Old House: How to Prune a Crab Apple Tree
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