Botanical Name: Malus ‘Prairifire’
Common Name: Prairifire Flowering Crabapple
Description: Its showy, slightly fragrant, dark pink to red flowers are what draw most people to the Prairifire flowering crabapple. And for good reason. The stunning, long-lasting spring blossoms are a sight to behold. But this variety also offer year-round beauty with its changing leaf color. Glossy maroon or purplish-red in spring, the leaves become dark green with purplish-red veins in the summer then a beautiful bronze color in autumn.
An excellent habitat and food source for wildlife. Its dark fruit is very decorative but may stain light-colored paving. There is nothing more beautiful than a gateway flanked with flowering Crabapple, or a long run of them up the driveway for a large-scale display. Perfect for country and cottage gardens to achieve that old-fashioned romantic character.
Moderate growing at 13-24″ per year, it matures at 15 – 20′ tall and wide. Grows best full to part sun in acidic soil. Is very tolerant of different soil types: loamy, sandy, or clay. Must have good drainage. Is drought tolerant after becoming established. Crabapple roots are not invasive or aggressive. Deciduous.
Crabapples are basically mini-apples, which means their tiny apples are perfectly fine to eat. But just like the big apples, don’t eat the seeds or the core of the tiny apples.
Did you know crabapple can be used to pollinate apple trees?? Why yes they can! It’s best if the crabapple is planted within 100′ of the apple for best pollination. And pollen from a crabapple will in no way affect the fruit quality of an apple tree. If your apple tree is a ‘Mollie’s Delicious’ or a ‘Fuji,’ it will keep on producing the same ‘Mollie’s Delicious’ or ‘Fuji’ fruits it always did. The seed inside will have mixed genes, but the fruit growing around it is essentially the swollen ovary of the mother plant and so will produce fruits typical of the mother plant.
Crabapples themselves are self-fertile, meaning they depend on insects such as bees to transfer pollen between flowers on the same tree.
And to add to all of its stunning beauty, the Prairifire flowering crabapple is highly disease-resistant. However. Crabapples should be treated the same as apples in planting them at least 500′ away from Eastern Red Cedars and other junipers to discourage the cedar-apple rust disease.
This plant in 5-gallon containers is 4-7′ tall x 1-3′ wide.
Interesting Tidbit: The tree was introduced by Dr. Daniel Dayton, University of Illinois, in 1982 as a disease-resistant cultivar. His misspelling of the name was intentional.
Hardiness Zones 4 – 8