Crabapple trees are popular for their ornamental appeal in the home landscape. They also provide bountiful, sweet-smelling blooms in the spring. During the remainder of the growing season, the trees are busy forming and ripening fruit. Crabapple trees are typically hardy and easy to grow.
Select a growing area for the crabapple tree that will provide at least eight hours of sunlight each day. Make sure the growing area is large enough to accommodate the mature size of the tree. Plant any time between the last spring frost and the end of autumn.
Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and the same depth. The hole should be wider at the top.
Remove the crabapple tree from the container. Use a utility knife to cut vertical 1-inch-deep slits at three places along the sides of the root ball.
Place the root ball in the hole and fill in around the roots with a 50-50 mixture of compost and soil you removed from the hole. Fill the hole approximately 3/4 full with the mixture, then add water to the top of the hole. Wait while the water is absorbed. Add more soil and compost to fill the remaining space in the hole.
Water the newly planted tree generously and keep the soil evenly moist during the first three weeks. After three weeks, the tree will not need more than 1 inch of water per week; more water than this may contribute to root decay. Place up to 2 inches of mulch around the base of the tree to help conserve moisture in the soil.
Fertilize after the first growing season if the tree does not grow at least 5 inches by adding several inches of compost around the base of the tree.
Prune the crabapple tree in early spring. Remove new shoots that grow from the branches and from the base of the tree. Remove dead and broken branches and branches that cross; these branches may rub each other, allowing disease to enter the tree. Cut away center growth periodically so sunlight can reach the interior of the tree.