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Crabapples for the birds

Posted by Jersey 5/6NE Pa (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 21, 02 at 17:55

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


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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!


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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"


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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).


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

Crabapples are self-fertile.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

Thanks, Elaine!


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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 Midget Midget Crabapple: Upright, shrubby form to 12. 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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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"...


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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!


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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!


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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RE: Crabapples for the birds

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.


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