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Flowering Crabapples File Bountiful Blooms In Lieu Of Tax Returns

Flowering Crabapples File Bountiful Blooms In Lieu Of Tax Returns

By Nancy Buley, Director of Communications, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.
Photographs courtesy of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.

Tax time and crabapple bloom time occur simultaneously in some parts of the country. Here in Western Oregon, we can usually count on their bright blooms to peak right around April 15, when Uncle Sam and the IRS ask us to hand over their share of the fruits of our labor. In colder climates, bloom time arrives in late April to early May and sometimes lasts through Mother’s Day.

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Here in the Pacific Northwest, where we and other propagators grow and ship trees to nurseries across North America, our crabapples are filing an extension on their bloom time returns this year. Cool weather for the past several weeks, capped by a surprise snowstorm that dumped several inches of wet snow on their branches and flower buds, has pushed the pause button on our spring bloom extravaganza.

No harm done, though, thanks to ornamental crabapples being a hardy lot that are quite adaptable to changeable spring weather. Within a week or two, buds of these pollinator favorites will open to an extravagant show of blooms, and the trees will be abuzz with honeybees, native bees and the occasional speedy hummingbird. 

Bloom time is the best of times, and the worst of times for choosing flowering crabapples for your landscape. It’s the best of times because every crabapple is beautiful in bloom. It’s the worst of times because the beauty of the blooms may blind your good judgement and ignore this advice: It is essential to choose trees that have good resistance to diseases that may disfigure foliage, or in the case of fireblight, kill your beautiful tree outright. 

Your state’s Cooperative Extension Service and your local independent garden centers have the expertise to help you choose the best-performing trees for your locale.  Our Crabapple Information and Crabapple Bloom charts are designed to help you narrow your options and focus on the best combination of flower, fruit, foliage, form, and disease resistance. 

Download our Crabapple Bloom Sequence guide for bloom times for western Oregon. This timeline can generally be applied other regions, depending on local weather conditions that vary from year to year. Choose from each group to enjoy a long season of blooming beauty. To learn about nearly 40 disease-resistant ornamental crabapples that we and many other nurseries offer, download our Crabapple Information Chart. Disease resistance information is gleaned from arboretum, university and ornamental crabapple testing sites across the continent, and from our own observations.

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Purple Prince Crabapple (Malus ‘Purple Prince’)

Early Season Bloom

A tree for all seasons, this early-blooming crabapple brightens the spring landscape with rosy red flowers. As the blooms begin to fade, leaves emerge with a rich purple tint that warms to regal bronze green in summer. An abundant crop of tiny maroon fruits delight gardeners in the fall and persist into winter. Among the most disease resistant of the purple-foliaged crabapples, it offers excellent resistance to scab and cedar-apple rust.

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Spring Snow Crabapple (Malus ‘Spring Snow’)

Early Season Bloom

This very symmetrical tree flowers early and consistently from year to year. Its pure white flowers do not set fruit, making this cultivar an excellent choice for locations such as courtyards and patios or along sidewalks where fruit would be objectionable. Disease resistance is mixed, with excellent and good resistance to mildew and cedar-apple rust, respectively. Although fireblight resistance is just fair and scab resistance is poor, it performs very well in areas where these diseases are not problematic.

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Sugar Tyme® Crabapple (Malus ‘Sutyzam’)

Early Mid-season Bloom

Fragrant, bright white blooms smother the branches of this upright, spreading tree in spring. Green foliage has good to excellent disease resistance. Persistent red fruits provide a fine fall and winter display.

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Red Jewel™ Crabapple (Malus ‘Jewelcole’)

Late Mid-season Bloom

Sparkling red fruits are among the brightest, most profuse and most persistent of any crab. In mild winter areas, they last until spring when these hardworking trees burst into bloom with masses of bright white flowers. Blooms are followed by bright green spring foliage which darkens in summer to a rich green. This cultivar is upright growing and somewhat pyramidal in shape, earning it a place on our UtiliTrees™ list.

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Adirondack Crabapple (Malus ‘Adirondack’)

Late Season Bloom

An outstanding flower display cloaks the dense, upright branches of this narrow, upright tree. Deep pink buds open to bright white flowers followed by green foliage that boasts excellent disease resistance. Bright red fruits persist into winter. Developed and introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum, it also merits inclusion on our UtiliTrees™ list.

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Royal Raindrops® Crabapple (Malus ‘‘JFS-KW5’ PP 14375)

Late Season Bloom

Pinkish-red blooms are offset by purple-tinted leaves that emerge as the blooms fade. Foliage intensifies to purple and becomes deeply lobed as it matures. Its purple color holds well through the summer and into autumn, when the unusual cutleaf foliage turns bronze-red to orange. Its tiny, bright red, persistent fruits sparkle with winter frost and appear to be favored by birds over larger-fruited cultivars.

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Sparkling Sprite® Crabapple (Malus ‘JFS-KW207’ PP 27954)

Late Season Bloom

Pink buds of Sparkling Sprite® crabapple open to fragrant, pink-tinged white flowers that smother its densely branched, rounded head. Genetically destined to be a topiary tree, it attains a perfectly symmetrical, rounded head with little to no pruning. Perfectly suited for patio, terrace or container culture, the summer foliage of this petite top-grafted tree is especially clean, bright green and disease resistant. The show goes on well into winter, when an abundant crop of tiny persistent fruits turns from golden yellow to orange and attracts birds to your garden.

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Sargent Tina Crabapple (Malus sargentii ‘Tina’)

Latest Bloom

Perhaps the most petite of all crabapples, it is also among the latest to flower. Bright red buds open to single white blooms that are followed by small, green, exceptionally clean and disease-resistant leaves. An autumn bonus is a hearty crop of bright red, 1/4-inch fruits that persist well into the winter months. Grown as a top graft, its small stature and a rounded, dense head play well in landscapes where space is at a premium.

Bloom Timeline:

Purple Prince Crabapple  Early Season Bloom

Spring Snow Crabapple  Early Season Bloom

Sugar Tyme® Crabapple Early Mid-season Bloom

Red Jewel™ Crabapple  Late Mid-season Bloom

Royal Raindrops® Crabapple  Late Season Bloom

Sparkling Sprite® Crabapple  Late Season Bloom

Adirondack Crabapple  Late Season Bloom

Sargent Tina Crabapple  Latest Bloom

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By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Now is the time to shop for annuals that will go the distance all summer. Suntory Flowers has a portfolio of gorgeous varieties that thrive in the heat. To learn more, click here for an interesting article.

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