Crabapple trees are very popular and easy to grow. You will find facts and information on growing beautiful crabapple trees and a recipe for making crabapple jelly. The Crabapple tree, Malus species and cultivars, is a deciduous tree that has spectacular pink blooms that are followed by fruit. There are also varieties that will have other colors of flowers and fruit making them excellent bonsai trees.
Description of the Crab Apple Tree
Flowering crabapples, crabapples, are popular single specimen plants, but they are also effective planted in groups of three of five of the same variety. Dwarf crabapple types can be used in the mixed borders. Weeping types are best placed on slopes or walls, and are especially effective next to water.
Where do crabapples grow? How tall do crabapple trees get?
They grow in zones 4-8 and will reach 8-25’ high by 8-25’ wide. Crabapple trees grow in a rounded, upright vase form and prefer full sun. They are used as specimens or as shade trees and have a medium texture and a slow to medium growth pattern.
A background of evergreens will set off the red or yellow fruit which persist into winter on some varieties. They prefer well-drained, slightly acid to neutral soils that are loamy rather than sandy.
Planting Crabapple Trees
Crabapple trees should be planted as early in spring as possible. Choose a site in full sun for best flowering and to reduce the chances of disease. The plants will grow best when they have consistent moisture during the growing season, but mature specimens seem to be drought resistant.
Feed the trees every spring with a good plant food. Prune them in mid-to-late winter to remove dead or damaged wood and water shoots (thin stems that shoot up from the trunk or branches) and to shape trees. Many varieties develop suckers at their base that should be removed.
Propagation of Crabapple Trees
Most crabapples are grafted onto hardy understock. The seeds of named varieties do not come out true. Seeds are sown in the fall. Most people find that hard cuttings are difficult to root.
Pests and Diseases of Crab Apple Trees
Problems include fire blight, cedar-apple rust, apple scab, canker, Japanese beetles, and scale. *Try to make sure that you plant disease resistant cultivars. Make sure you prune the trees while they are dormant to keep the center open to light and air to reduce disease problems. To reduce the possibility of rust, plant the trees at least 500’ fro eastern red cedar, the alternate host. Avoid overwatering crabaple trees, which can result in succulent growth attractive to insects.
Varieties of Crabapple Trees
Japanese flowering crabapple (M. Floribunda) is one of the best species, with dark green leaves and excellent resistance to japanese beetles. Tea crabapple (M. Bupebensis) is resistant to scab and Japanese beetles. Prairie crabapple (M. Ioensis) has deep pink buds fading to light pink or white blooms. It is resistant to scab but susceptible to rust. Other cultivars vary in their flower and fruit colors, growth habit, and resistance to diseases.
Crabapple Bonsai Trees
Crabapple trees are one of the most popular types of trees, along with azaleas, to use as bonsai specimens. The popularity of these trees and shrubs are due to the fact that they both produce beautiful flowers. The crabapple tree provides a bonus to the bonsai enthusiast, because it also has the crabapple fruit.
Making Crabapple Jelly
You will find many variations of crabapple jelly to make. Some recipes add pectin to the recipe, others use jelly bags or cookers to make the jelly. This is a simple, easy to follow recipe for crabapple jelly.
Needed Ingredients and equipment: Crabapples, sugar, water, glass jars, pot, strainer and ladel.
*Caution- Only use fruit from crabapple trees that have not been sprayed with any type of pesticides.
*Make sure your jars and lids are washed and sterilized before you begin.
Steps to Make Crabapple Jelly
1. Gather your crabapples and make sure they are ripe and free of any sign of blemishes.
2. Rinse the fruit thoroughly and take off any lingering stems, then cut the crabapples in half.
3. Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the crabapples but not have them floating up. Place the crabapples into the water. Boil the water and cook the berries until they become tender. Cook then until they become soft (25-30 minutes). The time will vary with how many crabapples you are cooking.
4. Use a strainer, a colander or some type of cheesecloth, or straining apparatus, so that you will be able to strain out the juice from the crabapples. Let the juice drip out naturally because you don’t want the juice to be cloudy from squeezing out the juice.
5. Transfer your juice back to a pot. Measure your crabapple juice and use an equal amount of sugar as you have juice or a little less if need be. (ex. 1 cup juice, 1 cup sugar).
6. Make sure you use medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil until the jelly will sheet from the spoon. It should reach a temperature of 220 degrees F. You can tell when this happens by running your finger along the back of the spoon and the jelly doesn’t move. Try not to stir them as this adds to the cloudiness factor.
7. Next, take off any foam that may have come on the top of the jelly and discard. Your jelly is now ready to be put into jars.
8. Put jelly into the jars /with lids and process for 15-20 minutes. In most cases the heat of the jelly will be enough to seal the jars.
9. Let the jelly cool completely. It is best to let it set for a day of so to make sure it has set properly.
Enjoy your Crabapple jelly!