Gardens - Fruit & Vegetable Gardening

Growing crabapples

Trevor Cole
Photography by
Tracy Cox

Crabapples - some new thoughts on an old Canadian favourite


The list of available crabs changes from year to year, with new introductions continually being added. The following varieties are especially decorative and disease-resistant. Keep in mind that dropping fruit can be bothersome by a patio or driveway, so site trees accordingly. “Persistent” refers to fruit that stays on the branches well past leaf drop, or at least until the birds get to it.

Columnar form - ‘Hargozam' HARVEST GOLD 9 by 4 m; has pink flowers; 2-cm yellow fruit that last until mid-winter; Zone 5

Weeping form - ‘Mazam' MADONNA 6 by 3 m; double, white flowers; 1.5-cm yellow fruit; Zone 4

‘Molazam' MOLTEN LAVA 4.5 by 6 m; white flowers; persistent, 1-cm red fruit; yellow fall foliage; Zone 4

‘Weepcanzam' WEEPING CANDIED APPLE 4.5 by 4 m; pink flowers; persistent, 1.5-cm red fruit, red-tinged leaves; Zone 5b

Oval to rounded form - ‘Adams' 7.5 by 7 m; pink flowers; persistent, 1.5-cm red fruit with red flesh; Zone 4

‘Centzam' CENTURION 7.5 by 7 m; rose red flowers; 1.5-cm glossy red fruit that lasts until mid-winter; Zone 5

‘Indian Summer' 6 by 5.5 m; rose pink flowers; persistent, 1.5-cm red fruit; red fall foliage; Zone 5

‘Prairifire' 6 by 6 m; dark pink flowers; persistent, 1.5-cm, dark red fruit; attractive bark; Zone 4

‘Sutgzam' SUGAR TYME 4.5 by 4 m; white flowers; persistent, 1.5-cm red fruit; Zone 4

Spreading form - ‘Dolgo' 9 by 10 m; white flowers; 3-cm, purple fruit drop quickly, good for jelly; Zone 2b

‘Robinson' 7.5 by 7 m; pink flowers; 2-cm dark red fruit; Zone 4

‘Thunderchild' 6 by 6 m; pink flowers; persistent, 1.5-cm, dark red fruit; green foliage turns red-purple in summer; Zone 2b

The columnar form of the Siberian crab (Malus baccata ‘Columnaris', Zone 2b) makes a tall, slender tree, growing up to nine metres high and only 1.5 metres wide. Its white spring flowers are followed by small yellow or red fruit, easy for birds to eat. Any fruit they miss in fall persists on trees over winter and are quickly devoured in spring.

The dark pink buds on the Japanese flowering crab (M. floribunda, Zone 5b) open a pale pink and turn almost white as they age. The tree has a spreading habit, growing about six metres tall and 4.5 metres wide, and is fairly disease resistant. The two-toned red and yellow, pea-sized fruit drop in early winter-if the birds don't get to them first.

The diminutive, disease-resistant Sargent's crab (M. sargentii, Zone 5) grows a mere two metres high and will eventually spread to three metres, making it a good choice for a small garden. Its newly introduced cultivar ‘Tina' is reputed to be even smaller, growing only about two-thirds this size. The flowers open white from bright red buds; small, shiny red fruit follow.


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