Caring For Your Crabapple Tree

Crabapple trees add elegant beauty to any yard with their white or pink blooms and bountiful foliage. However, these trees do require some care in order to maintain their health and beauty. If you own a crabapple tree, here are three things you need to do in order to care for it properly.

Have it pruned.

Some crabapple trees require more pruning than others to keep them looking neat, but all should be pruned at least once a year in early spring to remove dead branches and to maintain good air flow. Failing to prune a crabapple leads to the branches growing in too densely, minimizing air contact. In turn, the branches stay too moist, which puts them at risk for a fungal infection.

If you want to prune your tree yourself, focus on removing dead, damaged branches rather than new, fresh ones. Make sure you cut a few inches from the base of the branch, rather than flush against the main branch. This helps pruning wounds heal more quickly. Also, ensure your shears are sharp and your cuts are clean. If you're not confident pruning your own crabapple, a tree service like Troyer Tree Service Inc can do it for you at a reasonable cost.

Clean up fallen fruit.

The crabapples that fall from the tree should not just be allowed to rot beneath the tree. They may harbor fungus over the winter, perpetuating an infection once spring comes. For easy cleanup, spread a tarp beneath the tree as the crabapples start to fall. Every few days, you can shake the fruit off of the tarp and into a trash bin or compost heap (which should be located far from the crabapple tree to prevent infection).

Fertilize the tree.

The tree's blooms will be a lot more vibrant if you ensure it is getting the nutrients it needs. Once a year, preferably in the spring, pour a basic 10-10-10 fertilizer in a circle around the tree. Make sure your circle is as broad as the tree is wide, since this is about how far the roots reach. If you'd rather use organic fertilizing methods, you can top-dress your soil with compost or composted manure.  Make sure any manure you use is well broken down and aged, as fresh manure can "scorch" your tree.

Crabapples are not difficult trees to care for. As long as you follow the tips above, your tree should remain vibrant and beautiful for years to come.