Flowering crab apples make beautiful landscaping trees. On top of their beauty, they are incredibly low-maintenance. However, in order to get the best and longest blooms from your flowering crab apple, you should take some basic measures to keep it as healthy as possible.
There are more than 35 species of flowering crab apple, and, among those 35 species, over 700 cultivated varieties. Flowering crab apples are bred for color, flower size, blooming season, shape and disease-resistance. Among the more commonly known flowering crab apple trees are the Siberian crab apple and the Japanese flowering crab apple.
Flowers and Fruit
Flowering crab apple trees are popular mainly for their visual effects, as the crab apples themselves are often bitter. However, some people use the fruits for canning and jellies. Flowering crab apples bloom in the spring and produce fruit in the summer and fall. Healthy fruit displays rich, vibrant color and can be as attractive as the flowers.
Planting and Soil
Flowering crab apple trees need a rich, loamy soil that is well-drained. It should have a pH of 5.0 to 6.5 and not be boggy or low. Crab apple trees actually do quite well in dry and even drought-oppressed places, and after their first year they will not need watering, though lack of water can affect flower and fruit displays. A thin layer of mulch can help minimize water loss during the first year.
Flowering crab apples do not generally need to be pruned unless you wish to shape them for aesthetic reasons. However, some weeping cultivars will require periodic shaping to keep their flowing shapes. If you do prune, do so by early June and focus your efforts on opening up the interior of the plant to sunlight.
Flowering Crab Apple Diseases
While most new varieties of crab apple on the market are disease-resistant, older varieties are susceptible to a few diseases. Apple scab, which causes corky formations on the branches; fire blight, which blackens branches and eventually kills the tree; and frog-eye leaf spot, which creates brown spots with black centers on the leaves (or may have no impact at all) are the three most common disease problems. Flowering crab apples are remarkably resilient to fungal infections and insect pests; even the dreaded Japanese beetle seldom makes an impression on this hardy plant.