must-have (for you and the birds): crabapples

IT’S HARD TO THINK OF ANOTHER TREE that gets more appreciation here from me and the birds. (And don’t forget: I know what birds like, even beyond crabapples.) This last week has been crabapple time on my hillside (above), and it made me think about how much I love these extra-showy members of the genus Malus, and not just in flower.

I love them with little yellow fruits (like ‘Bob White’) or giant, gleaming red ones (like ‘Ralph Shay’, whose fruits are just below). Regular-sized red fruits are wonderful, too.

If I had to recommend only one…I couldn’t, but I most of all love the crabapples with Malus sargentii “blood”—the wider-than-tall genes of the Sargent crabapple, like my pink-flowered ‘Candy Mint’ plants (the two paler-pink ones in the photo), or beautiful ‘Tina’ (a variety I don’t have—yet). I like the Sargent types because they look beautiful even bare, with their hummocky structure. The dark-pink, slightly more upright tree in the background is showy ‘Prairifire,’ by the way.

So that’s it: My annual pitch for adding a crabapple to your landscape—and the landscape of your local birds.

May 1, 2012


  1. Terri H. says

    Totally agree. We have one of those “wider-than-tall” crabapple trees in our front yard. The winter before last when the ground was covered with snow for a couple months, the squirrels beat a path between the tree and the nearest telephone pole. And yes, of course, I’m always seeing birds in it–right from my living room recliner.

  2. says

    What beautiful color…add the birds, and you have perfection! hmmmm…asparugus bake looks yummy! Love the ‘bee doodle’, too. I was JUST yesterday thinking of where I can buy local honey ;)

  3. says

    I guess my crabapple has been under appreciated until now. I love its flowers, but its not in a great location (it came with the house). I will try to focus on its strengths in the future.

  4. says

    I am so happy to have found you!
    I am a Japanese born American who started to garden here in Colorado.
    Since I don’t know most Japanese gardening words, I have been enjoying to interact with Japanese gardeners and learn how they say/call something and tell them how we say/call the same thing.
    I have learned that Japanese word for crabapple is ” hime-ringo”, meaning “princess-apple”. I thought it was sweet.
    Anyway, I can’t wait to tell them about “deadheading”.

    • says

      That is hilarious, Chiko. Talk about “losing something in translation”. :) Between the common names, Latin names, and Japanese versions of the!

  5. Louise says

    I just planted a Prairie Fire one in my rear yard. I can hardly wait to see it bloom in coming years. From your blog’s inspiration I have also planted near there, 3 types of winterberry, 3 male winterberries, a witch hazel, a mock orange and a kerria japonica. Thanks for guiding and inspiring all of us.

    • says

      So nice of you to say so, Louise. All VERY good choices (tee hee). I should get a commission from garden centers I think, right? :)

  6. Dianne Young says

    We had a Prairie-fire professionally moved and replanted last fall and
    couldn’t wait to see it blossom this spring. Simultaneously , we had a
    Newport Plum added as well. The Plum has flowered quite nicely-however
    the Prairie fire did not bloom at all…A friendly and knowledgable neighbor
    told us that was normal…Is it??
    Thanks, Dianne

    • says

      Hi, Dianne. Many plants “sulk” the year after root disturbance (especially transplanting, meaning it was fresh-dug, not just moved from a nursery pot into the ground). So it would not surprise me. Make sure it stays well-watered through its first couple of years in the new spot, to minimize further stress.

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