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Cardinal Crab Apple Is a Fine Small Tree

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Virtues: Cardinal crab apple is a small flowering tree that adds color to the garden through its spring and summer foliage, spring flowers and fall fruit. This compact selection offers great resistance to common crab apple diseases, including scab, rust, mildew and fireblight, as well as pests such as scale insects and Japanese beetles. It will attract song birds with its fruit in fall and winter.


Common name: Cardinal crab apple

Botanical name:Malus ‘Cardinal’

Exposure: Full sun

Flowers: Clusters of deep pink flowers appear in the spring. The small fruits ripen to a deep red in the fall.

Foliage: Cardinal crab apple has foliage that emerges purplish red in spring and retains a reddish cast throughout the growing season. It is a deciduous tree.

Habit: This small garden tree typically grows just 15 to 18 feet tall. It has a spreading crown that can reach a width of 20 feet.

Origin: ‘Cardinal’ is a hybrid crab apple with ‘Strawberry Parfait’ and ‘Crimson Cloud’ in its parentage, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden.

How to grow it: Site this tree in full sun for the best performance. It is adaptable to different soil types, but it requires regular moisture, especially while getting established. Thereafter, it can withstand short periods of drought. If pruning is required, do so only while the tree is dormant, to maintain its best health. USDA Zones 5–8.

Image credit: Dave Gunn, CC BY-NC 2.0 via