How to Plant Crab Apple Trees


The crab apple tree, also known as crabapple or flowering crab, may stay as small as 15 feet tall and wide, but most reach heights and widths of 25 feet. Pink buds cover the branches in early spring and open to display white or pink blooms that are scented in some varieties of crab apple trees. Fruit that is less than 2 inches in diameter appears on the crab apple tree in summer or fall. Planting a crab apple tree in your garden or landscape will add color and interest all seasons of the year.

Step 1

Choose a sunny, well-drained location to plant crab apple anytime, spring to fall. Dig the hole as deep as the container or rootball (for ball and burlap) and twice as wide. Mix up to 50 percent organic matter, like leaf mold or compost, into the removed soil. If planting more than one tree, plant them 10 to 20 feet apart.

Step 2

Remove the tree from the container. Make a cut 1-inch deep from top to bottom of the side of the plant. Repeat the top to bottom cuts in two more locations around the sides to loosen the roots.

Step 3

Place the tree removed from the container, or the ball and burlap tree that is still wrapped, into the center of the hole. Add or remove dirt from the bottom of the hole if necessary so the dirt level of the tree is level with the ground.

Step 4

Backfill the hole halfway and then water around the rootball to settle the soil. For ball and burlap trees, untie the burlap and pull the burlap halfway down the sides of the rootball. Finish backfilling the hole and water again.

Step 5

Apply 2 inches of mulch, keeping the mulch at least 3 inches away from the trunk of the tree.

Step 6

Water deeply every 10 to 14 days the first year if there is no rainfall.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic matter
  • Sharp knife


  • Colorado State University Extension: Flowering Crabapple Trees
  • National Gardening Association: Plant Care Guide, Crab Apple
  • Ohio State University Extension: Selection, Care, and Use of the Ornamental Crabapple
Keywords: Crab apple tree, flowering crab, crabapple

About this Author

Barbara Raskauskas is a certified e-learning specialist and certified Microsoft Office specialist. She has written web content, technical documents and course material for a decade. Raskauskas now writes how-to's, product reviews and general topics published on several websites, including Demand Studios.