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Crabapple Tree Care Instructions

Immediate Care Instructions
Please water immediately upon arrival. Crabapples have long been a favorite to welcome the ending of winter. Their graceful flowers emerge reliably in attractive pastel colors in March/ April. The flowers are then followed in the summer by small fruit. The fruit is true to scale and fits the diminutive size of the tree. By autumn the color display of the foliage will range from crimson to lemon yellow. This small- scale garden favorite will delight for many years to come. Use the general guidelines below as a point of reference. 

Light Exposure

Crabapples like bright light. In the landscape they enjoy full sun. This would tend to dry them out too quickly. A location that offers morning sun only or filtered light most of the day is ideal in providing correct light without drying the plant out too quickly. When grown indoors the bonsai should be kept a minimum of 24” from windows as they will act as a magnifying glass and burn the leaves.

Water/ Fertilizer

Water daily through hot spells and every other day in the spring and fall. Keep moist in the winter, water when needed. A well balanced liquid fertilizer can be applied every 6 weeks or so during the growing season. If a few shoots get dry, remove them to encourage fresh new growth.


Crabapples flower and fruit on “spurs”. These are simply very short shoots that form slowly and are at least three years old. If you prune the lower parts of the tree, don’t remove the short, stubby shoots, these will become flowers and fruit next season. Remove long, top, leafy shoots to keep the plant attractive and to scale with the container. Allow the shoots to get “long” periodically. They will make food for the rest of the tree. Every 2-3 years remove the plant from the pot and cut away 1/3 of the existing root ball. Replant with fresh soil.

Dormant Period

Crabapples will put on quite a fall color show after which they enter their dormant period. Water when necessary to avoid drying out. Crabapples tolerate freezing conditions but their roots should not be exposed to these extremes. If an arctic front moves in, place the plant in a cellar or other cool place where the plant will be chilled but the soil will not freeze. Place the plant outside when freezing danger has subsided. Night temperatures of 33 degrees will help the plant fruit the following season but extreme freezing temperatures should be avoided.

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