The best time to prune crab apple trees

Updated February 21, 2017

Crab apple trees provide visual interest and appeal to any garden. They have gorgeous flowers and fruit, followed by autumn foliage. Their natural shape varies. Some are weeping, while others are rounded, pyramidal, upright or spreading.


Crab apple trees should be pruned in the early spring, before new growth starts. If you wait until the tree is in leaf and flowers are budding, which happens in mid-June to early July, you'll open it up to disease and pest infestations. Trimming after July will cut back on the fruits and flowers for the following year.


Remove suckers and small shoots, since they steal nutrients from the rest of the tree. Cut them off where they meet the main trunk. Dead, diseased and weak branches can be removed any time of year. Trim branches that cross or rub each other, too.


Aim to remove no more than 25 to 30 per cent of crab apple trees in any given time. Pruning more will cause suckers to grow, as well as irregular shaping of the tree.

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About the Author

Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.