In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
May, 2013
Regional Report

Share |

Pink buds that open to fragrant white flowers are a spring delight on the 'Donald Wyman' crabapple.

Crabapples for the Low Maintenance Landscape

Whether it's the soft pink blossoms and attractive weeping habit of 'Louisa' crabapple, the canopy of deep pink blossoms of 'Indian Magic', or the cheery fragrant blooms of the 'Donald Wyman', spring-flowering ornamental crabapple trees are delightful calling cards of a new season. Flowering crabapples enhance any landscape with their colorful, sometimes fragrant blossoms. Plus, many produce attractive fruit for fall color and wildlife food. Crabapples are generally smaller than traditional shade trees and are therefore adaptable to many situations such as a small backyard. Best of all, if you choose varieties bred for disease resistance, they are excellent trees to include for gardeners interested in low-maintenance landscapes.

Colorado State University has evaluated over 50 varieties of crabapples for disease resistance and ornamental characteristics. Although no single variety is totally resistant to disease, some varieties have a lower incidence of fire blight, a bacterial disease, and the fungal diseases apple scab, powdery mildew, and cedar-apple rust.

Crabapples grow best in full sun in well-drained soil. They require little pruning or maintenance once established. One of the best is 'Donald Wyman'. It grows extremely well in our area, providing a canopy of delightful pink-white blooms in spring. Later in the season, abundant small, glossy red fruits form that persist into winter, providing a source of food for visiting birds.

Some other varieties with good ornamental characteristics and good resistance to the diseases mentioned above are listed below:

  • 'Centurion' has upright growth when young that becomes rounded at maturity. It produces red flowers in bud that open to rose-red, followed by glossy red fruit about 1/2-inch in diameter that persists into winter.

  • 'Coralburst' has a compact, dense, and rounded form, so it's often grown as a large shrub or small tree. It produces coral pink buds that open to a rose color. It's 1/2-inch-diameter reddish-orange fruits are sparse.

  • 'David' has a vigorous growth habit and a rounded shape when mature. It has pink to white flowers and an abundance of 1/2-inch-diameter red fruit.

  • 'Indian Summer' has a broad overall growth habit and nice color in fall. Flowers are rosy red, and bright red fruit is 3/4-inch in diameter. Moderately susceptible to apple scab.

  • 'Profusion' has purple foliage that fades to bronze with single, deep red flowers that fade to pink. The 1/2-inch- diameter, dark maroon fruit is very persistent into winter. Moderately susceptible to apple scab.

  • 'Robinson' has a more upright spreading pattern with single crimson buds that open to pink flowers. The 1/2-inch dark red fruit is abundant but can often be hidden by the foliage.

Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!

Our Mission in Action

Shop Our Holiday Catalog