Malus sargentii 'Tina' is a flowering crab apple whose fruit attracts birds (and is not typically consumed by humans). This ornamental tree has white blossoms and bright red crab apples. Tina tops out at 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide and has a naturally rounded form. Prune the tree annually to shape it and remove unhealthy wood. Wait until frost danger passes for your region to prune your dwarf crab apple.
Inspect the branches of your tree for dead branches, which feel hollow and don't move in the wind. Also note diseased or damaged branches, which may be scarred, deformed, wounded or broken. You should be able to easily tell healthy wood from unhealthy. Unhealthy and dead wood needs to be removed for the health of the tree.
Clip off dead, diseased and unhealthy wood at its base or by trimming back to a lateral branch. Avoid cutting into the swollen tissue near the tree trunk. In between cuts, spray your pruners with disinfectant so that you don't accidentally carry disease to healthy parts of the tree.
Remove branches that criss-cross or rub against other branches, because this can cause limb damage later on.
Trim back the tips of long limbs to a node or lateral branch. Cut at a 45-degree angle so that water flows off the branch and doesn't collect on it.
Remove up to one-third of the old or weak limbs in a growing season to open up the canopy of your crab apple to light and air circulation. You don't need to thin out one-third of the canopy annually, but removing some branches each year is a good idea. Air circulation pushes disease through the tree, keeping it healthy.