Moving a crabapple tree isn’t easy and there are no guarantees of success. However, transplanting crabapples is certainly possible, especially if the tree is still relatively young and small. If the tree is more mature, it may be best to start over with a new tree. If you’re determined to give it a try, read on for tips on crabapple transplanting.
When to Transplant Crabapple Trees
The best time for moving a crabapple tree is when the tree is still dormant in late winter or very early in spring. Make it a point to transplant the tree before bud break.
Before Transplanting Crabapples
Ask a friend to help; moving a crabapple tree is much easier with two people.
Prune the tree well, trimming branches back to nodes or new growth points. Remove deadwood, weak growth and branches that cross or rub on other branches.
Place a piece of tape on the north side of the crabapple tree. This way, you can ensure the tree faces the same direction once placed in its new home.
Prepare the soil in the new location by cultivating the soil well to a depth of at least 2 feet (60 cm.). Be sure the tree will be in full sunlight and that it will have good air circulation and ample space for growth.
How to Transplant a Crabapple Tree
Dig a wide trench around the tree. As a general rule, figure about 12 inches (30 cm.) for each 1 inch (2.5 cm.) of trunk diameter. Once the trench is established, continue to dig around the tree. Dig as deeply as you can to avoid damage to the roots.
Work the shovel under the tree, then lift the tree carefully onto a piece of burlap or a plastic tarp and slide the tree to the new location.
When you’re ready for the actual crabapple tree transplanting, dig a hole in the prepared site at least twice as wide as the root ball, or even larger if the soil is compacted. However, it’s important that the tree be planted at the same soil depth as in its previous home, so don’t dig deeper than the root ball.
Fill the hole with water, then put the tree in the hole. Fill in the hole with removed soil, watering as you go to eliminate air pockets. Tamp the soil down with the back of a shovel.
Create a water-holding basin around the tree by building a berm about 2 inches (5 cm.) high and 2 feet (61 cm.) from the trunk. Spread 2 to 3 inches (5-8 cm.) of mulch around the tree, but don’t allow the mulch to pile against the trunk. Smooth out the berm when the roots are well established – usually about a year.
Water the tree deeply a couple of times per week, decreasing the amount by about half in autumn. Don’t fertilize until the tree is established.