Crabapple trees are seriously underrated! Ideal for small gardens or growing in pots, they produce a spring flower display to rival the showiest cherry blossom, and will fill your garden with birdsong with their brightly coloured fruits. These multi-season native trees attract pollinators, have wonderfully warm autumn colour and will even fertilise your other apple trees, giving you a bigger crop. Our tree grower in the New Forest has a real soft spot for crabapples, and has chosen winning varieties that are guaranteed to become a highlight of your garden.
Which crabapple tree is best for your garden?
Our crabapple collection includes four RHS Award of Garden Merit winners, including Evereste (large white flowers and red berries) and Sun Rival, a weeping variety. John Downie is our choice for blossom, being covered in clusters of white flowers each spring, while the Japanese Crabapple has fragrant pink blossoms and dark red fruits. Compact Jelly King may be the smallest variety, but is also the best for jam and jelly. To find your perfect crabapple tree, read more about them.
What grows well with crabapples?
A crabapple tree is a must for your wildlife garden, and pairs nicely with other compact native trees like hazels and rowans. All of these trees can also be used as hedging. Underplant your crabapple with bulbs, flowering shrubs such as oleaster, aucuba and escallonia or shade-tolerant perennials like heuchera, sedum or ferns for a natural woodland look. Winter flowering plants like hellebores are also a good choice for underplanting deciduous trees, as they’ll bloom when the tree’s leaves have fallen.
Crabapples are joyfully unfussy trees. They grow best in a sunny spot, but will tolerate a little afternoon shade; the soil type doesn’t matter as long as it’s well drained and kept moist. Water your tree regularly for the first year, then leave it to its own devices unless the weather’s particularly hot and dry. Your tree will appreciate a yearly feed and mulch, too. You don’t have to prune crabapples, but if you do, late winter or early spring is the time. Harvest your crabapples between September and November to make crabapple jelly - or leave them for the birds to enjoy.