Pruning crab apple trees

Pruning crab apple trees

Pruning |


The crab apple, also known as the Malus, is a fantastic tree for every season. In the spring you can enjoy its wonderful white, pink or red blossoms. These flowers turn into small apples in the autumn. Their fruits are not very tasty for humans, but birds love them.

When should you prune your crab apple?

Pruning a crab apple is not an absolute necessity. Whereas many trees or flowering shrubs need to be pruned to stimulate blossom, this is not the case with the crab apple. Two reasons for pruning this tree are to keep its beautiful shape and to prevent it from flowering too much one year and too little the next. The Malus can be pruned without any problems. This fruit tree tends to grow in an erratic manner. If the branches tangle, you can keep it neat and tidy by pruning it. These steps make it easy to prune your crab apple.

1. Pruning in the summer

If you have planted the crab apple in a free-standing position and want to form a nice trunk, you can crown it in the summer (remove the lowest branches from the crown). First cut off the lowest side branches. If these branches are thick, it is best to saw them at a distance of about 10 cm from the trunk. First cut off a few centimetres at the bottom of the branch and only then should you start sawing from the top. After cutting off the branches of the crab apple, you can trim the stump a little more. Always keep enough distance from the trunk to keep the branch collar intact. The branch collar is the thickened base of the branch. It is the area where the trunk transitions into the branch. Treat the pruning wounds on the crab apple with a wound sealer.

2. Pruning in autumn and winter

You can improve the crown of the crab apple by regularly thinning it out a little. This should be done in the autumn or in the winter. Thinning is recommended if dead wood develops in the crown. This can make the foliage on the outside a bit thin. Remove a number of thicker branches evenly distributed across the crown of the tree. First cut the relevant branches at the bottom by a few centimetres. Only then start sawing at the top. This prevents the branches from tearing out. Ideally, you should use a sharp and clean pruning saw. This prevents the plant from acquiring diseases as a result of pruning.

Want to know more about pruning other garden plants, trees and shrubs? Check out the pruning blog for more information. Or would you like to start pruning your crab apple yourself straight away? Check out Bakker's pruning range for everything you need.

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