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)

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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