11 Outstanding Crabapple Cultivars for Maryland region

Crabapple trees are a popular ornamental tree grown in the Maryland region. There are many different cultivars available, with varying sizes, shapes, flower colors, and fruit characteristics. Some of the most popular crabapple cultivars in Maryland include ‘Adams,’ ‘Candied Apple,’ ‘Donald Wyman,’ ‘Indian Summer,’ ‘Prairiefire,’ and ‘Red Jewel.’ These cultivars are prized for their ornamental value, disease resistance, and adaptability to the local climate and soil conditions. Crabapple trees are known for their stunning spring blooms and colorful fall foliage, as well as their small, edible fruit that is often used in cooking and baking.

Molten Lava

The Crabapple tree is a deciduous tree that belongs to the rose family. It is widely cultivated for its attractive blooms, vibrant-colored fruits, and ornamental value. The tree typically grows up to 20 feet tall and has a rounded or oval-shaped canopy. The flowers of the Crabapple tree are small and colorful, with shades of pink, white, and red, and bloom in the spring. The fruit of the tree is edible but generally sour in taste and is often used to make jams, jellies, and ciders. Crabapple trees are also popular for their ornamental value in landscaping and are used as a decorative feature in parks and gardens.

Crabapples are one of the most desirable small trees to incorporate into today’s smaller landscapes. They are easy to grow in zones 3 through 7, have a dramatic spring floral display, tolerate a wide range of soil and climatic conditions, and are readily available. However, they are often mislabeled, have messy fruit, have problems with the understock, and are frequently susceptible to a number of diseases that can make them aesthetically unattractive.

In an effort to select the most trouble free and aesthetically pleasing crabapple cultivars, evaluations were made at 25 test sites ranging from Canada to Mexico and from coast to coast. Grown at these test sites were 50 of the more desirable cultivars selected from the list of 1,000+ available cultivars. All of the crabapple cultivars were grown on common rootstock. Each cultivar was evaluated based on: disease resistance, form, and flowering and fruiting characteristics.

Disease Resistance

Crabapple trees are known for their good disease resistance compared to other apple trees. While no tree is completely immune to all diseases, crabapples tend to be more resistant to common apple tree diseases such as apple scab, fire blight, and powdery mildew. The level of disease resistance can vary between different cultivars of crabapple trees, so it is important to choose a cultivar that is known for its resistance to specific diseases. Proper care and maintenance, such as pruning and sanitation practices, can also help improve disease resistance in crabapple trees.

Apple scab, caused by the fungus Venturia inaequalis, favored by high humidity, is a serious disease. It causes spotting on leave and fruit that often result in premature and permanent defoliation of trees by mid-summer. Apple scab can be controlled with fungicides.

Fire blight, caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora, doesn’t occur as often as apple scab, but can cause dieback or death of crabapple trees. Infected issue appears to have been scorched by fire. The bacteria which causes fire blight thrives in warm, humid weather and is spread by insects.

Cedar apple rust, usually caused by the fungus, Gymnosporangium juniperivirginae, is a less serious problem and mostly affects leaves and fruit of native species, Malus ioensis and M. coronaria. It is active only in those areas where its alternative host, eastern red cedar, Juniperus virginian, is found.

Powdery mildew is caused by several fungi, including Odium pyrinum, Phyllactinia corylea, Posdosphaera leucotrica, and P. oxycanthae. Infected leaves become cupped and are covered with a white powdery coating. Poor air circulation and temperatures around 70º F provide ideal conditions for the growth of powdery mildew.

Black rot it is a fungal disease that can cause blackening and shriveling of fruit, as well as cankers on the trunk and branches. To prevent and treat black rot, use fungicides and practice good sanitation by removing and disposing of infected fruit.

Form: shapes and sizes of Crabapple trees cultivars

With over 1000 different cultivars to choose from, it is possible to have crabapples that are shrub-like, weeping, upright rounded, spreading, etc. The crabapple cultivars selected will depend upon garden size, planting site, and adjacent plants.

Crabapple trees come in a variety of cultivars with different shapes and sizes. Here are some of the common forms of Crabapple trees:

  1. Upright: These trees grow tall and slender, with branches that grow upward.
  2. Weeping: Weeping Crabapples have drooping branches that give them a graceful, elegant appearance. They often have a cascading effect that is perfect for landscape focal points.
  3. Rounded: Rounded Crabapples are compact and symmetrical, with a globe-like shape that makes them perfect for small gardens and patios.
  4. Vase-shaped: Vase-shaped Crabapples have a unique growth habit where the branches grow in a horizontal pattern before curving upward, forming a vase-like shape.
  5. Spreading: Spreading Crabapples have branches that grow outward, creating a wide canopy. These trees are perfect for providing shade and shelter for wildlife.
  6. Columnar: Columnar Crabapples have a narrow, upright growth habit that is perfect for small spaces, such as patios or narrow garden beds.
  7. Multi-stemmed: Multi-stemmed Crabapples have several trunks that grow from the base, giving them a bush-like appearance. These trees are perfect for creating a natural screen or hedge.

Overall, Crabapple trees are highly adaptable and can be trained into various forms depending on the cultivar and pruning techniques used.

Fruits: Details and features

Fruit size varies from 1/4 inch to more than two inches in diameter. Fruit larger than two inches in diameter is no longer considered crabapples. Fruit color may be yellow, orange, or red, with bright red being the preferred color. Cultivars have been selected for fruit that persists well into the winter. Since fruiting occurs only when the crabapples bloom, some cultivars fruit on alternate years while others fruit every year.

The fruiting season for Crabapple trees generally begins in late summer or early fall and can last for several weeks. The fruits typically ripen over a period of weeks, with some falling to the ground as they mature. It is important to note that not all Crabapple trees produce fruit every year, and some may produce more fruit than others.

Crabapple trees produce small, round fruits that vary in color, size, and flavor depending on the cultivar. Some cultivars produce fruits that are less than an inch in diameter, while others can produce fruits that are up to three inches in diameter. The colors of the fruit range from green, yellow, and red to purple and maroon. Some of the most popular crabapple cultivars include “Dolgo”, which produces large, reddish-orange fruit; “Transcendent”, which produces yellow-orange fruit; and “Chestnut”, which produces large, bright red fruit. Crabapple fruit is often used to make jams, jellies, and sauces, and can also be eaten fresh or used in baking.

Spring Flowers: stunning spring flowering process on some variety of cultivars

Since crabapple flowers remain open for only one to two weeks, flower color progression from bud to bloom is very important as is bloom abundance and the desire to which blooms are borne along the branches. Flower color may vary from white to pink to red and color may change dramatically as buds mature to open blossoms. Red buds may open to pink flowers and pink buds may open into white flowers.

The flowering process of a Crabapple tree in spring is a beautiful sight to behold. Before the tree’s leaves start to grow, its branches become covered in clusters of vibrant flowers. The process typically starts in early spring when the buds on the tree begin to swell. As the temperature starts to warm up, the buds will begin to open, revealing the stunning flowers.

The flowers of a Crabapple tree are typically about 1 to 2 inches in diameter and can come in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, red, and purple. The flowers can be single, double, or semi-double, depending on the cultivar.

As the flowers open, they release a sweet fragrance that can be enjoyed from a distance. This fragrance, combined with the beautiful colors of the flowers, make Crabapple trees a popular choice for ornamental gardens and landscaping.

Once the flowers have finished blooming, the tree’s leaves will start to grow, providing shade and beauty throughout the rest of the growing season.

Crabapple trees are known for their beautiful and showy spring flowers, which can vary in color, shape, and size depending on the cultivar. Here are some details about spring flowers in different Crabapple tree cultivars:

  1. ‘Adirondack’ – This cultivar produces pink flowers that are single or semi-double in form. They bloom in mid-spring and have a mild fragrance.
  2. ‘Candied Apple’ – The flowers of this cultivar are bright pink and semi-double. They bloom in mid-spring and have a sweet fragrance.
  3. ‘Donald Wyman’ – This cultivar has white flowers that are single or semi-double. They bloom in mid-spring and have a strong, spicy fragrance.
  4. ‘Golden Raindrops’ – The flowers of this cultivar are white and semi-double. They bloom in late spring and are followed by small, yellow fruit.
  5. ‘Indian Summer’ – This cultivar produces pink flowers that are semi-double or double in form. They bloom in mid-spring and have a sweet fragrance.
  6. ‘Prairie Fire’ – The flowers of this cultivar are deep pink and semi-double. They bloom in mid-spring and are followed by red fruit.
  7. ‘Royalty’ – This cultivar has deep pink to purple flowers that are semi-double. They bloom in mid-spring and have a sweet fragrance.
  8. ‘Spring Snow’ – The flowers of this cultivar are white and single. They bloom in early spring and are followed by small, red fruit.

Desirable Cultivars for Maryland region

Maryland’s climate is classified as humid subtropical in the southern and eastern regions and humid continental in the northwestern mountains. The state experiences hot and humid summers and cold winters. The average annual precipitation ranges from 40 to 45 inches.

For crabapple trees, well-drained soil is preferable, and the soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0. Maryland’s soil is generally acidic, but there are variations in different regions. In the coastal plain and piedmont regions, the soil is predominantly clayey and loamy, while in the Appalachian Mountains, the soil is more rocky and shale-based.

In general, crabapple cultivars that thrive in Maryland should be able to tolerate a range of temperatures and humidity levels. They should also have good disease resistance, particularly to apple scab and cedar-apple rust, which are prevalent in the region. The cultivars should have a moderate growth rate and mature to a size appropriate for the planting location, whether that be a small urban garden or a larger landscape. Additionally, cultivars with attractive flowers and fruits can enhance the aesthetic appeal of the tree.

Experts from the U.S. National Arboretum suggests the following crabapple cultivars for the greater Maryland region:

  1. ‘Adirondack’ has a dense, upright, obovate form; dark green disease resistant foliage; large single, white flowers; and bright orange-red small fruit, that persists well into winter. Mature size is 18 feet tall by 16 feet wide.
  2. ‘Donald Wyman’ has a rounded form; medium green foliage; single, white flowers; and bright red, 3/8-inch-diameter, abundant, persistent fruit. Mature size is 20 feet tall by 20 feet wide. Its small red fruits are a favorite of birds.
  3. ‘Indian Magic’ has a rounded upright spreading form; dark green foliage; deep pink, single flowers; and golden orange fruit that persists well into winter until it is eaten by birds. Mature size is 15 feet wide by 15 feet tall.
  4. ‘Malus floribunda’ has a horizontal, wider-than-tall form, green foliage, red buds that open over a staggered period to pink and fade to white flowers, and 1/4 inch diameter yellow fruit that ripens early in the fall and is eaten by birds. Mature size is 18 feet tall by 25 feet wide.
  5. ‘Malus sargentii’ has a dense, shrubby, twice-as-wide-as-high habit, dark green foliage, profuse, single, fragrant, small, white flowers, and small, abundant, bright red, persistent fruit that attracts birds. Mature size is 6 to 8 feet tall by 8 to 14 feet wide.
  6. ‘Malus x zumi Calocarpa’ (Redbud Crabapple) has a rounded spreading, graceful form; green leaves; pink flower buds that open to pure white flower; and glossy red, 3/8 inch diameter persistent fruit that attracts birds. Mature size is 20 feet tall by 24 feet wide.
  7. ‘Molten Lava’ has a horizontal to pendulous growth habit; green foliage; pink buds that open to white flowers; and glossy red, 3/8 inch diameter, persistent fruit that attracts birds. Mature size is 15 feet tall by 12 to 15 feet wide.
  8. ‘Prairifire’ has an upright form that becomes rounded as it matures; reddish maroon foliage which ages to a dark green’ crimson buds that open to pinkish red, single flowers; and dark red persist throughout the winter fruit. Mature size is 20 feet tall by 20 feet wide.
  9. ‘Professor Sprenger’ has an upright and spreading form; green foliage; pink buds that open to single white flowers; and persistent, 1/2 inch diameter orange-red fruit. Mature size is 20 feet tall by 20 feet wide.
  10. ‘Candymint’ grows up to 8 feet tall and wide with a dense, upright habit. It is highly resistant to apple scab and produces deep pink flowers in the spring. Its small red fruits are persistent throughout the winter.
  11. ‘Lollipop’ has up to 6 feet tall and wide with a compact, rounded habit. It is highly resistant to apple scab and produces deep pink flowers in the spring. Its small red fruits are persistent throughout the winter.

Crabapple cultivars recommended for the Maryland region and theyr pictures:

Bibliographic sources and official websites about crabapple trees

  1. University of Maryland Extension – Apple Scab Disease
  2. Missouri Botanical Garden – Malus spp.
  3. Pennsylvania State University – Crabapple disease
  4. Garden Guides – Crabapple Trees
  5. The Morton Arboretum – Crabapples cultivars
  6. Maryland Cooperative Extension, University of Maryland: https://extension.umd.edu/
  7. The United States National Arboretum: https://www.usna.usda.gov/
  8. Maryland Department of Agriculture: https://mda.maryland.gov/
  9. Maryland Native Plant Society: https://mdflora.org/

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