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More about flowering crabapple

There are few plants that create greater intrigue or visual impact during all four seasons than the flowering crabapple. In the spring all eyes are enticed with delicate colors offered by emerging leaves and buds. Unopened flower buds may hint of one color and as flowers open, other hues are revealed in a spectacular floral display. As flowers fade the rich foliage offers another subtle contribution to the landscape.
The flowers of crabapple tree are to be expected in full bloom during late April up to middle of May. There are classifications of the flowers of the crabapple tree. There is the single type with only five petals in it and the semi-double has six to ten petals. The double type has more than ten petals. Double-flowered crabapple trees will be able to keep the flowers longer but the fruits are not abundant.
Blossoms often open from pink or red buds and change to paler shades after opening, creating a beautiful pink cloud lasting several weeks. Asian crab apple specimens are usually preferred for ornament because their fruits are more colorful and last into the winter providing food for over-wintering birds. Blossom colors range from pearly white through delicate pinks to a deep red. There are even cultivars with coral or salmon colored flowers.
The flowers are pollinated by the early bees, one of the 90 possible associated insects that the Crab apple provides a home and sustenance for. Another form of wildlife that benefits from the growth of the Crab apple tree are our native birds, they relish the trees autumn crop of greenish-yellow miniature apples. Crab apples are much loved by birds as a source of food. Those birds will then depart to scatter the apple seed throughout the hedgerows where they perch, there it will grow to complete another of nature’s life circles. Raw Crab apples are much too acid for us humans; instead, we use the fruit in the creation of jams and jellies, often combined with rowan or blackberries.
Flowering crabapples are adaptable but thrive in rich loam type soil (a combination of clay, silt, and sand). Regardless of soil type, good drainage is a must for tree health. Crabapples grow best in a moist, slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 to 6.5. Excessively moist areas and low spots should be avoided. On the other hand, relatively dry sites can be tolerated by crabapples if plant stresses are minimized during the first year after transplanting.
Crabapples planted in average fertility soils and provided moderate amounts of organic matter need little additional fertilizer the first year. If you note that annual growth is less than 5″ – 6″ or leaves are small or pale green, then supplemental fertilizer is required. If fertilizer is suggested, apply 2 – 3 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of root zone area.
Plant stress, evidenced as unhealthy appearance (e.g. leaf scorch, poor leaf color), is a response to unfavorable environmental conditions. Drought stress, for example, is due to a lack of water, either from rainfall or irrigation. Water is essential for every life function of the plant. However, too much water or over-watering, a persistent saturation of the roots, can lead to root rot and eventual plant death. Other plant stresses include too much shade, insect damage, infectious diseases, and physical damage from lawnmowers, weed-eaters, animals, and children playing.
Full sun exposure, 8 to 12 hours of direct sun, is required for optimal development of fruits and flowers. Most flowering crabapples are hardy and can endure the colder temperature extremes of zone 4 on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone maps.
Flowering crabapples require direct exposure to sunlight throughout the day to ensure the development of the flowers, as well as the fruits. This means the trees must be planted on locations where they can access the sun for at least eight hours every day.
Crabapples require little pruning other than to keep it in shape or from interfering with other landscape specimens. Rapidly growing shoots from branches, called water sprouts, rapidly growing shoots from roots or the base of the tree, called suckers, dead, diseased, damaged, and crossing branches should all be removed. Sometimes on dense growing crabapples, it’s necessary to prune the center of the plant to allow additional sunlight and air movement.
Pruning should be completed before early June. By mid-June to early July, flower buds for the next season are beginning to form in most crabapples. Pruning after July will reduce floral display and fruiting for the following year.

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