How to Transplant Crabapple Trees

Updated March 23, 2017

For both decorative appeal and shade, a crabapple tree works well in a landscaping plan. Crabapple trees have beautiful and fragrant blossoms, but are also hardy plants. While they do prefer certain conditions, they are also capable of adapting and surviving in less-than-perfect environments. Crabapple trees have fruit that is edible, though small and sour. Different varieties of crabapples are ideal for various purposes. Transplanting a crabapple tree is one way to add this foliage to your yard.

Perform a visual assessment of the crabapple tree that you plan to transplant. Trees that are healthier and younger can better withstand transplant shock and take root, while older trees are less-than-ideal candidates for transplanting.

Test a planting site using a soil test kit. Crabapple trees prefer loam soil with good drainage and a slightly acidic pH of between 5.0 and 6.5. Full sun is preferable, though the crabapple tree can adapt to partial sun.

Amend the planting site to compensate for poor nutrient levels and pH. Fishmeal can compensate for low nitrogen levels, while alfalfa meal provides a good source of general nutrients. You may also use a tree and shrub mixture specifically designed to feed these types of plants.

Plant in spring for bare-root trees. You can plant crabapple trees with a root ball, a bag or those that are in a container during any months when the ground is not frozen.

Keep the roots moist for several days before transplanting begins. Spray the root ball with a hose whenever you notice drying.

Dig a saucer-shaped planting hole with a shovel that is approximately twice the diameter of the root ball and deep enough that the graft line will sit just above the ground. Transplanting roots too deeply can cause the crabapple tree to suffer. Measure the root ball and the hole with a tape measure to verify the distances.

Prepare the roots for planting. Lay bare-root trees directly into the planting hole. Untie and loosen burlap-bagged roots. Fully remove and liberally loosen the roots of trees in a container for free movement.

Set the crabapple tree in the planting hole, running water around the root ball to help settle the tree into the surrounding soil. Any dirt that sloughs off the side of the hole will help hold the tree in place.

Allow the water to drain completely into the surrounding soil.

Backfill the planting hole loosely with a compost mix.

Replace the soil that you removed to create the planting hole, packing it down gently around the transplanted tree until you reach the normal soil line. Pack the soil enough to leave a slight depression in the ground around the crabapple tree trunk.

Mulch around the tree to retain and conserve water.

Water the transplanted crabapple tree liberally, adding more soil if significant settling occurs.


You can also keep the crabapple's roots moist using a bucket of water. If you do not want crabapple fruit to drop on the ground, select a variety that holds its fruit well.


Give the crabapple tree plenty of water during the weeks immediately after transplanting or the tree may not recover from transplant shock.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test kit
  • Fertiliser and soil amendments
  • Hose
  • Shovel
  • Tape measure
  • Compost mix
  • Mulch
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About the Author

Rosa Lyn has been a freelance writer since 2009. She has worked as a ghostwriter for companies such as eBay and was the editor-in-chief for the member newsletter at the websites SewingMamas. She specializes in subjects such as home and family, parenting, alternative health and crafts.