How to Plant Your Crab Apple Tree
Congratulations! Today you received a beautiful crab apples tree. It may not seem like much right now but in a few years it will be covered with beautiful flowers in mid-spring. Your tree will produce small edible fruits that are tart but excellent for making jelly.
Your tree is bare rooted, which means it hasn’t been grown in a pot. When you get it home put it in a bucket of water to rehydrate the roots and then plant it as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours.
Crab apples need lots of sunlight so choose a spot that receives full sun (6+ hours per day) and where the soil drains freely. It will grow to 15-25 feet tall and wide at maturity, so be sure to plant it in a spot where it will have plenty of room.
To plant it, first carefully clip off any damaged roots. Dig a hole as deep as the root structure and 1 ½ times as wide. Be sure not to go any deeper than where the tree trunk begins to spur out into roots (a.k.a. root collar). Place the tree in the hole. Backfill the soil and press down around the roots to eliminate air pockets. Water thoroughly. Add a 2-3 inch layer of mulch to this same area, keeping the mulch a few inches away from the tree trunk.
Caring for your tree is easy! Apply a layer of organic compost under the tree each spring, spreading it out to the drip line (e.g., the area under the outermost branches). Reapply mulch every year, bringing the mulch line further out to match the drip line. Water the tree during the summer if the rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.
Crab apples don’t need much pruning once they are established. In late winter, prune any dead, diseased, and/or broken branches. Also, trim off any new sprouts that grow at the base of the tree.