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Ornamental apple tree, flowers galore

Pink-flowered branches criss-crossing on a blue sky background.

The flower apple tree or ornamental apple tree is a magnificent tree to decorate a garden, even though it doesn’t produce any palatable fruits.

Key Ornamental Apple tree facts

Type – ornamental tree

Height – 6½ to 20 feet (2 to 6 meters)
Climate – Temperate
Exposure – sun and part sun

Soil – ordinary, well drained

Foliage – deciduous – Flowering – April May

Commonly called the crabapple or crab apple tree, its fruits are edible but are often too tart and small to be considered.

Planting an ornamental apple tree

The flower apple tree, or ornamental apple tree, is preferably planted in fall like most trees.

That ensures it can properly develop a root system before winter sets in which will guarantee proper vegetation when warmer days return.

But if you choose to plant it at the very beginning of spring, you’ll be able to accurately choose the blooming of your apple tree, because, if purchased in a container, it will already be bearing flowers at the store. This is useful since there are a great many varieties.

  • Favor an emplacement that is richly endowed with sunlight.
  • Ornamental apple tree likes deep, rich, well drained soil.
  • Avoid very drafty spots.
  • You can check our guidelines for planting.

Pruning an ornamental apple tree

No specific pruning, unlike that of the fruit apple tree.

However, you may eliminate dead wood and weak branches as you notice them.

Learn more about the ornamental apple tree

Ornamental apple tree fruitsThe flower apple tree is a magnificent ornamental tree that will embalm your gardens right at the beginning of spring.
It changes dramatically as seasons come and go, and is also one of the most beautiful autumn trees.

At the beginning of spring, pink and carmine red buds appear on the ornamental apple tree.

The color then changes to shift to variations of pure white, pink or red as the blooming evolves.

At the end of the blooming season, the foliage covers the entire space, with its distinctive deep green that will turn to orange red in fall.

At the end of summer, small red, orange or yellow apples appear and will stay on the tree for the most part of winter if not harvested.

Ornamental apple tree varieties

The ‘Coccinella’ ornamental apple tree variety is very hardy and will bloom profusely in reddish-pink hues.

Enemies & diseases that attack ornamental apple tree

Quite resistant to disease, and often considered to be more hardy than the fruit apple tree, the ornamental apple trees is nonetheless occasionally visited by parasites and certain diseases.

Among the ranks of parasites you’ll find

Among the battalions of fungus you’ll find

Ornamental varieties are usually more resistant to diseases than actual fruit apple trees.

Smart tip about the ornamental apple tree

When planted near an orchard, an ornamental apple tree will increase pollination of fruit trees!

Regular apple tree flowers will have a higher chance of being fertilized, and other species will benefit from beneficial insects attracted by the crabapple tree.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Pink ornamental apple tree by Karsten Paulick under Pixabay license
Fruiting ornamental apple tree by Hans Braxmeier under Pixabay license

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  • Kevin Yetman wrote on 2 December 2021 at 21 h 53 min

    Several years ago I purchased an ornamental apple tree. There are six types of well known apples represented by the grafts. Last summer I had different types of apples, although they did not grow big enough to eat. Should I be treating the tree as as a normal apple or as an ornament ie: pruning, watering, spraying etc. and if pruning when?

    • Gaspard wrote on 3 December 2021 at 3 h 30 min

      Hello Kevin, when several different grafts are growing on the same tree, it’s important to keep a balance of power between them. If you’re not careful, one of the grafts will overpower all the others and commandeer all the resources of the rootstock for itself. It’s a natural phenomenon, it happens because not all grafted varieties are perfectly suited to the rootstock; they are only compatible to a certain degree, and there’s always one grafted variety that is more suited than the others.

      This being said, what I understand from your situation is that your tree has several varieties of “edible” apples grafted onto it; and it’s sold overall as an “ornamental” apple tree because, well, it looks nice. In garden speak, an “ornamental apple tree” usually refers to varieties that aren’t really yummy to eat, but that have beautiful blooming, crabapple for instance. They’re also called flower apple trees. In your case, perhaps the rootstock is that of a crabapple, that’s fairly common since it’s vigorous and resilient. However, the grafted branches come from well-known apple varieties, and this turns your tree into a normal fruit apple tree. So the best way forward for you is to follow those tips on regular apple trees, the fruit one For example, end of winter is when to prune, after the freezing.

      One word of caution, though: if you notice any branches shooting out from below a graft joint anywhere on the tree, prune them off immediately: this is the rootstock sending off new branches. Inevitably, if you keep them, they’ll overpower all the grafts on the tree, which will dry out and drop off – and you’ll have lousy crabapple tree for the price of a fully grafted apple tree, not a very good deal. It’ll probably flower nicely, though. 😛

  • Gabrielle A. wrote on 17 January 2021 at 22 h 14 min

    Very interesting. Can you tell me what type of tree I have in my yard? It has been dropping these sticky small fruit buds all winter and I have no idea what the fruit is. I can send a photo. Thanks.

    • Gaspard wrote on 18 January 2021 at 20 h 01 min

      Sure. I just sent you a private message. You can also try posting it in the forum in the “Plant identification and exchange” section.

      • Gaspard wrote on 19 January 2021 at 21 h 57 min

        Thanks for sending the pictures, they were excellent. I think I found what the tree is. I believe it’s a Callery pear tree. It might be the Bradford pear cultivar itself, but since the branches don’t shoot upwards as much, either it’s been pruned or it’s another variety of the same species. It’s a common ornamental pear tree in the United States. It’s considered invasive now, though, so when it dies, you might want to replace it with something else.

        Fruits won’t poison you at all, but they’re impossible to eat: hard until the first frost, then they turn to mush.

        You weren’t far off asking the question on this ornamental apple tree page!

  • M Conway wrote on 30 September 2020 at 19 h 32 min

    Can you help me determine what kind of small trees I have in my back yard? I have a picture. Thank you.

    • Gaspard wrote on 1 October 2020 at 9 h 11 min

      Sure! I just sent you an email.