Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Crabapples That Don’t Make a Mess

octobre 8
Photo : Fanpop

Gardeners love crabapples (Malus species) for their spectacular spring flowers and attractive berries… until the latter start to drop on their decks, lawns and walkways in the autumn. It is unpleasant and even dangerous to have to slip and slide over rotting fruits as you head off to work each morning. And imagine all the work involved in picking them up!

Well, if you choose the right crabapple, this situation can be avoided, as their are both “messy” and “clean” varieties of crabapple.

The messy crabapple varieties bear relatively large and juicy fruits. Birds peck at them, but never swallow them: they’re too big. Because of the fruits’ weight, they fall readily from the tree and cover the ground with a slippery mess.

Other varieties, though, produce tiny little crabapples with a drier texture that tend to remain on the tree. In fact, small crabapples usually persist throughout much of the winter (for a very nice effect on a background of white snow, by the way!) And when birds visit the tree, usually towards the end of winter when crabapples are at their sweetest (cold slowly converts their starches into sugars), they swallow the tiny crabapples whole. So they end up cleaning up the tree from top to bottom before spring, leaving no berries on the ground! So tiny berried crabapples are “clean” varieties.

Some crabapple varieties are clean for another reason: they are essentially sterile. In other words, they produce a lot of flowers, but almost no fruit. In the following list, the latter are indicated by a astérisique (*).

Also, do note I only included in the following list varieties that are considered resistant to the most common apple diseases (scab, rust, mildew, and fire blight). So no spraying will be necessary. Instead, expect great results and long-lived, disease-free, beautiful trees that require essentially no special care!

Clean Crabapples for Home Gardens

Malus ‘Adams’ (zone 4a)

Malus ‘Candied Apple’ (zone 4)

Malus Centurion® (‘Centsam’) (zone 4)

Malus ‘Harvest Gold’ (zone 3)

Malus ‘Indian Magic’ (zone 4)

Malus ‘Indian Summer’ (zone 4)

Malus ‘Liset’ (zone 4)

Malus ‘Madonna’ (zone 4)

Malus ‘Makamik’ (zone 2b)

Malus ‘Maybride’ (zone 4)

Malus ‘Molten Lava’ (zone 4)

Malus ‘Pom’zai (‘Courtabri’) (zone 4b)

Malus ‘Prairiefire’ (zone 4)

Malus ‘Red Jade’ (zone 3)

Malus ‘Red Splendor’ (zone 3)

Malus ‘Royal Beauty’ (zone 3b)

Malus ‘Rudolph’ (zone 2)

Malus sargentii (zone 5)

Malus ‘Sir Lancelot’ (zone 3)

Malus ‘Snowdrift’ (zone 4)

Malus ‘Spring Snow’* (zone 4

Malus Sugartyme® (zone ‘Sutyzam’) (zone 4)

Malus ‘Thunderchild’ (zone 3)

Malus ‘White Angel’ (zone 2b)

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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