What is a Ralph Shay tree? Ralph Shay crabapple trees are mid-sized trees with dark green leaves and an attractive rounded shape. Pink buds and white flowers appear in spring, followed by bright red crabapples that sustain songbirds well into the winter months. Ralph Shay crabapples are on the large side, measuring about 1 ¼ inch (3 cm.) in diameter. Mature height of the tree is about 20 feet (6 m.), with a similar spread.
Growing Flowering Crabapple
Ralph Shay crabapple trees are suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. The tree grows in nearly any type of well-drained soil, but isn’t well suited for hot, dry desert climates or areas with wet, humid summers.
Before planting, amend the soil generously with organic material such as compost or well-rotted manure.
Surround the tree with a thick layer of mulch after planting to prevent evaporation and keep the soil evenly moist, but don’t allow the mulch to pile up against the base of the trunk.
Ralph Shay Crabapple Care
Water Ralph Shay crabapple trees regularly until the tree is established. Water established trees a couple of times per month during hot, dry weather or periods of extended drought; otherwise, very little supplemental moisture is needed. Place a garden hose near the base of the tree and allow it to trickle slowly for about 30 minutes.
Most established Ralph Shay crabapple trees don’t require fertilizer. However, if growth seems slow or soil is poor, feed the trees every spring using a balanced, granular or water-soluble fertilizer. Feed the trees a nitrogen-rich fertilizer if the leaves appear pale.
Crabapple trees generally require very little pruning, but you can prune the tree, if needed, in late winter. Remove dead or damaged branches and twigs, as well as branches that cross or rub against other branches. Avoid spring pruning, as open cuts can allow disease-causing bacteria to enter the tree. Remove suckers as they appear.