Prairifire Crabapple Information : Learn About Growing Prairifire Trees

Prairifire Crabapple Information : Learn About Growing Prairifire Trees

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Image by F. D. Richards

Malus is a genus of around 35 species native to Eurasia and North America. Prairifire is a small member of the genus that produces ornamental leaves, flowers and fruit. What is a Prairifire tree? It is a flowering crabapple with high disease resistance, ease of care and several seasons of beauty. The tree is outstanding as an ornamental specimen in the landscape and the fruits of the tree are important food for wild animals and birds.

What is Prairifire Tree?

In Latin, Malus means apple. The many varieties of these pomes stem from their ability to cross pollinate and hybridized. Prairifire tree is a member of these fruiting trees that produce copious blooms and edible fruit. Try growing Prairifire trees en masse or as standalone plants with several seasons of beauty and unmatched tolerance to numerous site conditions.

Prairifire can grow 20 feet (6 m.) tall with a spread of 15 feet (5 m.). It has a nicely compact form, gently rounded with light gray, scaly bark. The flowers are very fragrant, deeply pink and considered showy when they appear in spring. Bees and butterflies find them very attractive.

The small fruits are ornamental and attractive to birds and wild animals. Each is about ½-inch (1.27 cm.) long, purplish red and glossy. The crabapples are mature by fall and persist well into winter, or until animals finish raiding the tree. Prairifire crabapple information identifies the fruit as a pome. Leaves are oval and deeply green with reddish veins and petioles but emerge with a purple tinge when young. Fall colors range from red to orange.

How to Grow Prairifire Crabapples

Growing Prairifire trees is easy. It is hardy into United States Department of Agriculture zones 3 to 8 and, once established, can tolerate a range of conditions.

Prairifire crabapple has a medium growth rate and can survive for 50 to 150 years. It prefers full sun, in a location where it receives at least 6 hours of light per day. There are a broad range of soils in which the tree thrives. Its only Achilles heel is extreme drought.

Prepare the planting location by loosening the soil to twice the depth of the root ball and twice as wide. Spread the roots broadly in the hole and fill in carefully around them. Water the plant in well. Young plants may need staking initially to keep them growing vertically.

This is a self-fertile plant which relies upon bees to pollinate the flowers. Encourage bees in the garden to increase yields of the beautiful, aromatic blooms and bright fruits.

Prairifire Crabapple Care

When young, Prairifire crabapple care should include regular watering, but once established the plant can tolerate brief periods of dryness.

It is prone to several fungal diseases, among them include rust, scab, fire blight, powdery mildew and a few leaf spot diseases.

Japanese beetles are a pest of concern. Some insects cause minor damage. Watch for caterpillars, aphids, scale and certain borers.

Fertilize the tree in very early spring and prune in winter to maintain a strong scaffold and remove diseased or broken plant material.

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