Gardening Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day Trees

50 Disease-Resistant Crabapples

20180629A Purple_prince Bruce Martin, WC.JPG
Malus ‘Purple Prince’ is just one of many crabapples that will need no treatment to prevent disease. Source: Bruce Martin, Wikimedia Commons

There are few temperate-climate ornamental trees that are as popular as crabapples … nor that cause their owners such a hassle. Indeed, crabapples often make you pay for their beautiful, but brief bloom and (sometimes) stunning fruits by coming down with all kinds of diseases and insects, including the extremely annoying apple scab disease, one that can, in the worst years of infestation, cause susceptible crabapples to lose almost all of their leaves in midsummer. Cedar-apple rust and powdery mildew, although less serious, can cause highly visible damage, while fire blight just doesn’t defoliate or mark leaves, but kills entire branches and even the entire tree over time.

Crabapple diseases are so common many tree owners feel obliged to spray their crabapples with fungicides several times a year just to keep them looking good.

But there is good news! There are now crabapples that are considered very disease resistant* and these are the ones laidback gardeners should be considering for their gardens.

Put the following list on your telephone next time you go shopping for an ornamental crabapple!

  1. M. ‘Adams’ zone 4
  2. M. ‘Adirondack’ zone 4
  3. M. American Spirit™ (‘Amerspirzam’) zone 4
  4. M. baccata ‘Jackii’ zone 3
  5. M. ‘Cardinal’ zone 4

    20180629C M. David
    Malus ‘David’. Source:
  6. M. ‘David’ zone 4
  7. M. ‘Dolgo’ zone 2b
  8. M. ‘Donald Wyman’ zone 4
  9. M. Emerald Spire® (‘Jefgreen’) zone 3
  10. M. floribunda zone 4b
  11. M. Gladiator® (‘Durleo’) zone 2
  12. M. Golden Raindrops® (‘’Schmidtcultleaf’’) zone 3
  13. M. ‘Henry Kohankie’ zone 4
  14. M. Holiday Gold™ (‘Hozam’) zone 4
  15. M. ‘Indian Summer’ zone 3
  16. M. Ivory Spear™ (‘JFS KW214MX’) zone 4
  17. M. Lancelot (‘Lanzam’) zone 4
  18. M. ‘Liset’ zone 4
  19. M. Lollipop® (‘Lollizam’) zone 3
  20. M. ‘Louisa’ zone 4
  21. M. Madonna™ (‘Malzam’) zone 4
  22. M. Marilee® (‘Jarmin’) zone 4
  23. M. ‘Maybride’ zone 4

    20180629B Malus Molten Lava, .jpg
    Malus ‘Molten Lava’. Source:
  24. M. ‘Molten Lava’ zone 4
  25. M. ‘Ormiston Roy’ zone 4
  26. M. Perpetu ‘Evereste’ zone 4
  27. M. Pom’zai® (‘Courtabri’) zone 4b
  28. M. Pink Princess™ (‘Parrsi’) zone 5
  29. M. ‘Pink Spires’ zone 2
  30. M. ‘Prairifire’ zone 4
  31. M. ‘Professor Sprenger’ zone 4
  32. M. ‘Purple Prince’ zone 3b
  33. M. Purple Spire® (‘Jefspire’) zone 3
  34. M. Raspberry Spear (‘JFS KW123MX’) zone 4
  35. M. Rejoice™ (‘Rejzam’) zone 4
  36. M. ‘Robinson’ zone 4
  37. M. ‘Royal Beauty’ zone 2
  38. M. Royal Mist® (‘Jefmist’) zone 2

    20180629D Malus-Royal-Raindrops
    Malus Royal Raindrops™. Source:
  39. M. Royal Raindrops™ (‘JFS-KW5’) zone 4
  40. M. ‘Royal Splendor’ zone 3
  41. M. Ruby Dayze™ (‘JFS KW139MX’) zone 4
  42. M. Ruby Tears™ (‘Bailears’) zone 4
  43. M. ‘Rudolph’ zone 2
  44. M. sargentii zone 4
  45. M. sargentii Firebird (‘Select A’) zone 3
  46. M. sargentii ‘Tina’ zone 4
  47. M. ‘Sentinel’ zone 4
  48. M. ‘Sir Lancelot’ zone 3
  49. M. ‘Sparkling Sprite™ (‘JFS-KW207’) zone 4
  50. M. ‘Strawberry Parfait’ zone 4
  51. M. Starlite® (‘Jefstar’) zone 2

    20180620E Sugar Tyme
    Malus Sugar Time®. Source:
  52. M. Sugar Tyme® (‘Sutyzam’) zone 4
  53. M. Winter Gem™ (‘Glen Mills’) zone 3b
  54. M. x zumi‘Calocarpa’ zone 5

*In test sites across North America, the cultivars listed have shown good to excellent resistance to the four main apple diseases: apple scab, apple-cedar rust, powdery mildew and fire blight. That means:

Excellent disease resistance: no symptoms of the disease are normally seen and no control measures are necessary.

Good disease resistance: occasionally, minor symptoms of the disease are present, but no control measures are necessary.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. 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 is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden 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 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

4 comments on “50 Disease-Resistant Crabapples

  1. Thanks for the information! Last year I had to cut ours down after boring beetles pretty well killed it (and our two ash trees that grew behind it). From what I have read, there isn’t much one can do to prevent destruction by beetles. Correct me if I’m wrong!

    • No, there isn’t. You could possibly treat with insecticide injections, but that’s expensive (you need a specialist tree care company), needs repeating at least every two years… and you’d have to start when the boring insects were just getting started. As you’ve discovered, you don’t tend to know until the damage is severe.

      • Mike Smith

        As for the apple tree borer you can check base of tree for frass which looks like sawdust. If you see frass you can cut to get the borer or send a thin wire up the hole to kill it.

  2. Which crabapple trees are on the “Excellent” list for disease resistant?

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