The Denver area is known for its crabapple blooms in April and May, but these ornamental trees can be grown in landscapes throughout much of Colorado. Some varieties can even be grown at 8,000 feet elevation.
Crabapples are defined as apples with fruit smaller than two inches in diameter. Its apples may be used for jams, jellies and sauces. Crabapples are primarily grown for their spring flowers, which are white, pink, rose or red. Their foliage may vary from green to bronze to purple. Some develop apples that last into the winter while other varieties are sterile and rarely develop fruit.
In the fall, crabapple tree foliage may be red, orange or yellow. Some have reddish bark when they are young and others develop bark that becomes gray, patchy and mottled with age. The growth patterns of this tree vary as well. They may grow tall and upright, or short and wide.
Crabapple diseases of the most concern in Colorado are fireblight, powdery mildew, apple scab and juniper-apple rust. Select a variety for your landscape based on physical traits, temperature hardiness and disease resistance.
Over the past 18 years, Colorado State University's department of horticulture and landscape architecture has evaluated most crabapple varieties for ornamental characteristics and disease resistance. Several have performed well and show excellent overall disease resistance include Adams, Louisa, Centurion, Profusion, David, Ralph Shay, Doubloons, Red Splendor, Indian Summer, Robinson, Jackii and Velvet Pillar.
For "Fireblight" refer to message number 1411.
For "Powdery mildew refer to message number 1415.
For more information, see the following Colorado State Extension fact sheet(s).
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Updated Friday, April 19, 2013