Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Care for a Prairie Fire Crabapple Tree

By M.H. Dyer
Prairie fire crabapple produces red-purple fruit and has excellent fall color.

Prairie fire crabapple, (Malus x Prairie Fire), has something to offer for every season. The blooms appear in May, beginning as reddish buds and opening into pink-purple flowers lasting for at least two weeks. Green summer vegetation is replaced by bright orange fall foliage. Deep red fruits remain long enough to feed hungry songbirds during the winter. Prairie fire has a pleasant, rounded shape, and will reach heights of about 20 feet at maturity. Give prairie fire crabapple tree a bit of extra attention during the first year, and it will reward you with many years of low-maintenance beauty.

Plant prairie fire crabapple tree in spring, after the ground has dried out to the point that it's no longer muddy. The roots of the tree will have a difficult time establishing if the soil is compacted. Prairie fire crabapple will do well in nearly any soil that isn't excessively wet. Plant the tree in full sunlight where it won't be shaded by tall buildings or other trees.

Give the prairie fire crabapple tree an inch of water every week that there is no rain. Allow a garden hose to drip slowly at the base of the tree. Watering deeply once a week will help the tree develop sturdy roots, and is preferable to frequent, shallow watering.

Fertilize the prairie fire crabapple tree once every year, in early spring, beginning when the tree is a year old. Use a balanced, time-release fertilizer.

Prune prairie fire crabapple in early spring before the tree blooms, or after it finished blooming in late spring. Remove any branches that are crossing other branches, as well as branches that are growing too closely together. Prune off any weak or damaged branches, or branches broken during the winter.

Remove any suckers as soon as they appear, as suckers will draw energy from the tree. Using pruning shears, cut the sucker close to the tree.


Things You Will Need

  • Mulch
  • Balanced, time-release fertilizer
  • Pruning shears

About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.