How to Prune a Dolgo Crabapple Tree

Overview

The Dolgo crabapple tree is a hardy dwarf crabapple that when mature will reach a height of between 15 to 20 feet. In early spring its pink buds turn into beautiful white blossoms. The fruit is the size of a small plum and ripens in August, and in fall the leaves turn a lovely shade of yellow. This beautiful tree makes a wonderful specimen tree in your landscape design. It is hardy in zones 3 to 9. Reasons for pruning are: to remove dead, diseased or broken branches, to control its size within your landscape (and for safety reasons), to thin the crown to allow sunlight and air in, and to remove any suckers.

Step 1

Prune away any dead, damaged/broken or diseased branches immediately by making your cut at the breaking point, or depending upon the location of the break, by removing the entire branch. Be sure to make a clean cut that leaves no torn or ragged edges, as this will allow the tree to heal properly. This can be done when necessary (the tree does not need to be in its dormant stage).

Step 2

Visually inspect the Dolgo crabapple from all angles to determine if you need to prune any branches in order to keep the tree from encroaching upon other plants (as well as walkways, structures, or your roof).

Step 3

Find the branch collar (this is on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (this is on the topside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) of the branch or branches that you are going to cut away. Make your cut right in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar. Be sure that you leave the branch bark ridge and the branch collar intact for the health of the tree. This pruning procedure should be done before early June. Buds for next year will be forming by mid-June to early July.

Step 4

Look at the crown of the tree to determine how dense the growth is. If is extremely dense you will want to thin out some of the branches. Thinning out the branches will allow the sunlight in, and it will also provide additional air circulation. Use your judgment and prune out select branches to open up the crown. This procedure should be done after the spring flowering and before early June.

Step 5

Cut off any suckers (shoots that grow from the bottom of the trunk or up from the roots). These suckers take away nutrients that should be used by the tree. You can do this at any time during the year.

Tips and Warnings

  • Dispose of any diseased plant material -- do not put it in your compost bin. Disinfect any pruning tools that have been used to remove diseased plant material by dipping them in bleach or alcohol. Do not attempt to prune branches that are close to electric wires, as this is dangerous. Instead call the electric company and have them do the necessary pruning.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruner
  • Tree saw

References

  • Tree Help
  • Nature Hills Nursery
  • Nature Hills Nursery
Keywords: Dolgo crabapple prune, dead diseased broken branches, cut away suckers crown air

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.