We have several varieties of crabapples in the garden here at Juniper Hill. The largest and oldest tree has been here for many years and was planted long before we bought the property. Over the past fifteen years, we have added many new cultivars which have been selected for their disease resistance. Most of the newer cultivars make great trees for the smaller garden because they stay relatively small (15-20 feet) and you can easily keep them pruned and in scale with the rest of the garden. They flower beautifully in the early spring, many have great fall color and, although most of them have small fruit, they make a great food source for birds.
Below are a few of our favorite cultivars shown in flower (click on the image for a closer look).
And, check out this list of thirty-two of the very best flowering and disease-resistant crabapples for your garden.
A Note of Caution
One caution when considering planting crabapples in the garden is their susceptibility to cedar apple rust, one of the most common fungal diseases of apple trees. The disease is caused by the fungus Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae. Both junipers and arborvitaes can serve as hosts for this disease, so if you have many of these evergreens in your garden, chances are your crabapples will show symptoms of the disease at some point. Cedar apple rust is usually not a life threatening disease to the crabapples but it can cause them to look pretty shabby by the end of the season. And, defoliation from cedar rust, year after year, can eventually weaken the tree and make it susceptible to other pests and diseases. Make sure you select a cultivar that has been bred for resistance to cedar apple rust if it is to be planted anywhere near Junipers. We have recently been forced to remove several crabapples from the garden here that finally succumbed to the lasting effects of cedar rust.