Crabapple trees are a great selection for your landscape. These small-medium sized ornamental flowering trees add vibrant early spring color to even the most boring landscapes. These beauties can be spotted blooming in our area in late March through early April, depending on temperatures. These multiple-season interest trees come in a variety of cultivars. These offer varying characteristics of bloom color, leaf color, unique bark, and fruit that attracts birds.
One downfall to crabapple trees is their likelihood to encounter a few diseases that distort leaf tissue. These diseases also cause premature leaf drop in summer and weaken the overall plant health over time.
Several diseases will pose a problem to crabapple trees in your landscape. Rust and Apple Scab distort leaves later in the season and often cause the tree to defoliate in summer, which is not good for the overall health of a tree when this happens year after year. Both of these diseases infect the tree early in the spring when the crabapple’s leaves are beginning to emerge. Light rain during this time will increase fungal spreading in these trees, as it gently distributes spores onto more leaves. Gentle rain also provides the moist environment that fungi flourish in. Leaves will not start to show damage until well after the point of infection. At this point, it is too late to treat with a labeled fungicide.
Prevention of such diseases will go a long way to keep your tree looking healthy year-long. The spray application of a labeled fungicide will help to reduce these fungi from spreading when leaves are emerging. Multiple applications will be required for good control. If your tree has already been damaged from these fungi, be sure to keep them irrigated at the base of the trunk in times of drought. You should also fertilize them in the fall. This will help provide nutrients needed that weren’t naturally produced from photosynthesis because of early defoliation.
Spraying for these diseases and applying fertilizer needs to be executed properly with the right products at the right time. Find a tree service that provides a plant health care program that will address these issues. A company with Certified Arborists can explain these recommendations and control expectations for you. This will go a long way from keeping you from becoming crabby in the summer when your tree would typically look horrible!