Crabapples for the birds

JerseyApril 21, 2002

We want to plant a crabapple, or two, but it will only be for the birds to eat, and us to enjoy watching. What do you think are the best kinds for zone 5/6. Any other bird tree/shrub you can think would be better. THANKS

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Elaine_NJ6

The only criterion is small fruits--less than 3/4 inch. If they're larger, the birds don't eat them. Other than that, just choose one you think is pretty. They're not native, so it doesn't matter!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2002 at 10:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rumplefrogskin(z3/4A Wisc.)

The Robins strip the 'Snowcloud' first -- small apples. Later they will eat the fallen fruit of a generic pink-flowered one we planted about 40 years ago -- I walk around under the tree crushing them with my feet so they can eat them. They love that. Snowcloud is beautiful in bloom as well and the bees love it -- a bonus.

The Robins also clean out the Canadian Cherries when they ripen, as well as the Juneberries (Shadblow), and the red berries from the Honeysuckle bushes -- but I have heard that those are an invasive plant south of here, so best not to plant perhaps. Robins also love grapes, and cherries are favoured by a lot of birds. Don't know if you can grow them where you are, but I have seen Robins stripping Pyracantha fruit too.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2002 at 3:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jillhudock(z7 PA)

here are some:

Malus 'Donald Wyman' or the Donald Wyman Crabapple - gets about 20 feet in 17 years or so, rounded with a single stem. This is a gold medal plant winner from Pennsylvania Horticulture Society This fruit hangs throughout the winter and the birds eat it in Feb/March. Flowers are early april pink buds opening to single white flower (fragrant).

Malus Floribunda - Japanese Flowering Crabapple - 20 feet or so, rounded, branched close to the ground. Fruit in Sept or Oct. Flowers are pink buds opening to pink flowers that fade to white - late April.

Malus hupehensis - Tea Crabapple - about 20-25 feet, upright and V-shaped. bears fruit heavily in alternate years. flowers are deep pink buds to fragrant white flowers in late April.

Malus X zumi var calocarpa - Redbud Crabapple (or Zumi Crabapple) - get 20-25 feet, rounded. Lots of ornamental fruit that will feed the birds through January. Flowers - deep pink/red buds open to fragrant white/pink flowers in late April.

Malus 'Jewelberry' - Jewelberry Crabapple - gets only 8 feet tall, a dense shrub like tree. fruits persist into January. Dark pink buds open to fragrant white blossoms in May.

Malus 'Red Jade' - Red Jade Crabapple, Weeping Crabapple. only 15 feet tall, fruit lasts into October. deep pink buds open to single white blooms in early May (flowers heavier in alternate years).

Malus sargentii - Sargent Crabapple - only gets 6-8 feet tall. fruits last to early fall for birds. light pink buds open to fragrant pure white flowers in May.

hope that helps - not sure if you can find all of these in your area - make sure you ask about the disease problems (fire blight, scale), the growth rate, and how big the bruit get - all of the above are 3/4 inch or less in fruit size.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2002 at 9:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tobco

i suggest you get serviceberry trees (a/k/a juneberry and shadblow). both you and more different species of birds will will enjoy it. i planted a bareroot this spring to watch it grow some before the birds take over:

amelanchier canadensis "lamarckii" or "autumn brilliance"

    Bookmark   April 25, 2002 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
docgipe

Messy as they may be the Mulberry is a super fruit for the birds. Plant white varieties. The neighbors will not recognize the droppings of your feathered friends.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2002 at 8:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Elaine_NJ6

Any NATIVE dogwood (Cornus species), either tree or shrub is premium bird food, as is any NATIVE viburnum. Your best bet is to have a variety of shrubs whose fruits mature at different times--that way the birds know to keep checking out your property! I have serviceberries that ripen in June, raspberries, wild cherries, and elderberries in July, C. racemosa (grey dogwood) in August, several viburnums, Virginia creeper, and a crabapple in August and September. Also hollies, chokeberries, and coral- and snowberries, but the birds seem to ignore all of them. Right now the serviceberries are over and the catbirds are dive-bombing into the raspberry patch several times a day.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2002 at 12:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rabbette1(z6 SW PA)

If you are interested in growing native crabapples, then the Sweet Crab (Malus coronaria) is one that is indigenous to your area. It grows to 30 ft. tall. (There are several more that grow in other areas of the country).

    Bookmark   July 15, 2002 at 8:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Are Crabapples self-fertile? I know most apples are not but it seems from the information here that the crab apples would be self fertile as no one has mentioned planting two.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2002 at 12:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Elaine_NJ6

Crabapples are self-fertile.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2002 at 10:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Thanks, Elaine!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2002 at 12:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
honeysuckle_rose

Yesterday I sat and watched a red headed woodpecker gather crab apples from our trees. Funny thing was, he was like a squireel storing up food for winter. He would gather a crab apple, then take it and hide it in the top of my porch's ventilation area in the roof. He must have put at least one apple in every crack. What a treat.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2002 at 1:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

A crabapple tree is on my wish list. Like everything else I have been adding for the birds, its a matter of thinking of a good place for it and then actually getting the area done for planting. Good to know woodpeckers like them also.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2002 at 12:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
onthegogo(z5ca)

We have 4 ornamental crab apples in our yard - two are weeping japanese and I'm not sure of the others -- but all have small crabapples formed in the fall -- and they keep the birds very happy and full -- especially robins seem to love them. Just ask at the nursery about the size of the fruit formed -- that seems to be what's most important.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2002 at 1:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I remember having flowering crabapples at a previous residence that never made any fruit, even after the trees were there for years. They did have gorgeous deep pink flowers.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2003 at 6:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Elaine_NJ6

Watched a mockingbird perched nonchalantly on an outer branch of the crabapple today. The branch was waving in the bitter cold wind, but the mocker just sat there, looking around, eating a tiny shriveled apple now and then. My crabapple is old and probably on its last legs, but it attracts a lot of birds, including woodpeckers that are probably eating grubs under the bark.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2003 at 6:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Anyone try the Prairie Crab Apple (Malus ioenensis) offered by Oikos Tree Corp?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2003 at 10:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Well, I was out today looking for a Crabapple in local Nurseries and Discount Stores. Was not able to find much. No Sargents Crab to be had. The only one I could find was one called Snowdrift. Never heard of it, but it looked pretty. Red buds opening white and I nice tree at at good price. But I didn't buy it because I never heard of it. Worried that the apples might be too big. I want a flowering crab really badly as I have been thinking about one all fall and winter.

Anyone have/heard of Snowdrift? I don't know if I should go back and get it or not.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2003 at 7:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Elaine_NJ6

That's the problem with local nurseries--first, they're not knowledgeable, and second they're not interested in planting for wildlife. One around here told me that they never sell anything that produces fruit, because people think fruit is messy. (Nature is messy.) That's why I order from small sellers like Cold Stream (my order arrived yesterday). You can call them up and talk to a person who will be able to answer your questions.

Most crabapples do produce small fruits--but some do not. The old-fashioned ones that are all over the parks--the ones that have red buds that open to white flowers--have small fruits. Mine is one of those. But there are hundreds of varieties, and you really have to know what you're getting.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2003 at 9:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

My favorite local (somewhat, its at the END of Long Island) Nursery (Peconis River Herb Farm) has a crabapple listed on their website information copied below ---

Malus x micromalus ÂMidget  Midget Crabapple: Upright, shrubby form to 12Â. Glossy, dark green leaves, clusters of deep pink, non-fading flowers in spring. Very ornamental, 1/2 yellow to red fall fruits, attractive to birds. Pruning, if necessary should be done before early June.

This one sounds similiar in form to the Sargents I have been looking for. I have been waiting for a nice non rainey day when I don't have to work in the garden to get out to Peconic so I am going to check out this tree amoung other things I am looking for.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2003 at 2:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Peconic River only had the crabapple Donald Wyman and that had no fruit. So I didn't buy a crabapple.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2003 at 10:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Ha!!! My first crabapple tree. I came home from a nursery that I had never visited before today with a 'Indian Magic' crabapple. Its already a nice sized tree, at least 8 feet not counting the pot, with lots of little crabapple fruits on it now. The tree is supposed to grow to 12 feet, smaller than the similair 'Indian Summer'. They had the 'Indian Summer' there also and the trees were taller for the same price. But since those top out at 18 feet acording to the tag, I choose the 'Indian Magic' because it stays shorter.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2003 at 10:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
shymainer

Newyorkrita...you can read about the Snowdrift crabapple here: http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/codem/U370.shtml

It says about the apples, "...small, orange-red crabapples (to 3/8" diameter) which mature in the fall. The fruits are persistent and attractive to birds."

Joanie (in Maine)

Here is a link that might be useful: Snowdrift Crabapple Description

    Bookmark   August 1, 2003 at 4:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Yup, I should have bought the Snowdrift but was unsure about it. Now I have reserched it some on the net and know it has nice small fruits. I am hoping to find one next spring as I still have a spot for it. I guess things turned out well, though, because the place I would have planted the Snowdrift is the place I now have the Indian Magic planted. The Indian Magic is better suited to that particular spot anyway.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2003 at 6:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roseunhip(z5b QC)

Here come my 2 cents... I disagree with Elaine that crabapples over 3/4 in. do not attract birds. At our previous home, we were "stuck" with a dark pink flower one that produced 1 in. (at least) apples. I thought then that we would not attract birds with it, having admired so often the flocks of waxwings in those that gobbled the smaller fruits before. But wrong, we got lots of 'em: pine grosbeaks, both waxwings species (by the hundreds!), cardinals and robins often came in the tougher winter days to peck at these.
But I would opt for a small fruit variety too, to get - probably - more species (with a more delicate beak).
Crabapple tree is hard to beat as a WINTER food provider! But as a tree with an identical bearing and winter fruits, an hawthorn - if one is willing/has time to wait for it to grow! - might be a better, tougher plant than an apple tree... I don't know, they are so beautiful in the fall when the fruits are ripe and the foliage turns "on fire"...

    Bookmark   September 6, 2003 at 8:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Today a beautiful male Cardinal was eating one of the Crabapples from my Crabapple tree. The leaves on the tree are long gone. All thats left on it are the crabapples. Can't wait to see which types of birds eat the little apples.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2003 at 2:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Elaine_NJ6

My elderly crabapple is severely afflicted with cedar apple rust and full of sapsucker holes--the marks of a long and honorable life. It still bears enormous numbers of tiny, mostly blighted fruits, and scores of different kinds of birds still regularly eat them. This spring, it attracted my first ever flock of waxwings.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2003 at 4:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roseunhip(z5b QC)

At our present place, we have no crabapples but a very large apple tree. Cardinals do spend a lot of time in it in fall and winter, and I have often noticed that they are feeding on the large fruits still hanging. Gray squirels love 'em too, which makes a great watching pastime for our leashed cat!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2003 at 8:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newjerseytea

Don't forget that crabapple flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds in the spring!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2003 at 1:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

There are only afew of the Crabapples left. I have seen Cardinals, Mockingbirds and White Throated Sparrows eating them.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2004 at 12:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Anyone notice the Crabapples in the Song Sparrow Catalog? The fruits on the one called 'Leprechaun' look awesome.

Here is a link that might be useful: Klehm's Song Sparrow

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 6:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
too_many_pets(LI Z7)

Rita...definitely looks nice. Did you ever order from Song Sparrow? I'm in a position to do a LOT of planting this Spring...YEAH!!
Lynn

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 8:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sully4(5a)

On a related subject, I have a mature Montmorcy (sp?) tart cherry tree that flowers and fruits prolifically. I was hoping the birds would leave some for me and as yet, not many birds seem attracted to the fruits. But every year chipmunks climb the tree when the fruits are just showing a hint of red and stuff their cheeks with fruit. They go off and bury them (I guess) and return again and again. One year the only cherries left on the tree were ones so far out on the end that even a chipmunk couldn't reach it.

So it's not always the birds that like fruit. These guys just love those cherries. And it's so interesting watching them try to get the cherries, I don't mind missing out on them myself.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2004 at 12:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I never ordered from Song Sparrow but I am sure there are others on the Garden Web Forums who have.

Birds eat the cherries from my backyard cherry tree all the time. I have to pick the ones I can reach and eat them as they are getting ripe to get them for myself.

My crabapple that I planted last year should bloom soon. Can't wait!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2004 at 2:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johnCT(Z6 CT)

Does anyone have experience with Malus 'Robinson' that they are selling in the big box stores now?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2004 at 2:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

My Crabapple is finially in bloom! BIG deep red flowers. Just gorgeous. Since I bought my 'Indian Magic' last year already in fruit, I missed the flowering last year.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2004 at 10:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Something I just learned recently about crabapples. Some Crabapple varieties are recommended as polinators for Apple trees. Actually any crabapple can pollinate apple trees but the catch is having overlapping bloom times. Sure learned about the concept of overlapping bloom times from the viburnums!!!!

The one most commonly used and planted by commercial orchards is 'Snowdrift' being a midseason bloomer with a long period of bloom. Some of the places selling apple trees sell this variety of crabapple for pollination. The very same Snowdrift that I first saw last year and did not buy because, at the time, I had never heard of it. Of course, now I know it makes tiny red apples that hold on the tree all winter. Wonderful for the birds. The blossoms are so pretty. Pink outside in bud, opening to white.

I bought an apple tree for myself this spring from Raintree Nursery called 'Resi' from their no spray line of apples. It needs a pollinator to set fruit. I think all apples need a pollinator. Anyway, I have no idea if the 'Indian Magic' I have would bloom at the same time so I either need another mid season blooming apple or I need to get the 'Snowdrift' crab. Maybe both.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2004 at 1:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Crabapples on the tree look nice and ripe but no takers yet.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2004 at 12:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
marys1000

I have just started my search for new plants for my new bare acre by trying to figure out which Crabapple to buy. Seems if you buy from the web like Song Sparrow (thanks for the link) you have to buy 3 at a time which is the most I would use so I can only have one type. I like that leprechaun's fruit are small.
That's the only website I've seen so far which lists fruit size!
My apt complex has a lot of Crab apple's - all with larger fruit - the birds really can't eat them. At least till they fall and get crushed. I see the grackles and Robins in the street eating the ones the car has run over. So I want the smallest fruit possible.
But its tough to find that info!
I love that this thread actually started in 2002 and still posting in 2004.
Mary, Nebraska

    Bookmark   January 3, 2005 at 9:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Elaine_NJ6

Sometimes crabapples disappear in fall, sometimes they remain until spring. I guess it depends on what other food is around. I've had grackles devour them in fall, waxwings in spring; other years they get picked off one by one. My tree is really on its last legs and production is way down, lots of dead branches. But there were apples and this year they're all gone.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2005 at 12:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
organica(7RichmondVA)

Well now I've just got to get a crabapple and a hawthorn tree, too. It is so heartwarming to know there are other gardeners taking pleasure in providing natural food for birds. In my neighborhood most gardens are so sterile - if anything does have berries, they're not the type that interest birds. One neighbor mentioned planting a cherry tree but when they lost fruit to the birds, they took it out! I've spent my first few months on this new property ripping out invasive exotic shrubs and planting things to feed wildlife, and while the new plants are getting established I feel terrible that there isn't more to offer a poor bird when it comes to my yard. They do seem to be finding insects under the autumn leaves, which of course my neighbors think I am insane for spreading over the grass instead of raking them.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 7:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Crabapple is getting ready to bloom again. Wow, is it EVER loaded with buds this year! I guess it needed last years growing season to get really established before it takes off this spring.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 4:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

This spring I added a Sugar Tyme White Crabapple that I am very pleased with. The tree flowered with nice white large flowers and right now has little green fruits on it. We will see how popular they turn out to be with the birds this winter.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 11:30AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Anyone an Ecologists? Predation (Red Fox)
We have Red fox that seems to not have any predator's....
ladyrose65
Dramatic change in birdfeeder activity: Why?
About a week ago I put out a suet cake that seemed...
actionclaw
Baby Mallards
I am in desperate need of some help. We just hatched...
michelewelker
30+ turkey vultures!
Hi all, I was driving home from picking my kids up...
catherinet
The Midwest Strikes Back!
Today I have the extreme pleasure of watching about...
Leafhead
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™