The Prairie Fire Crab Apple is the perfect choice for lovers of vibrant color and easy-care plants. It has been specially bred to resist common apple diseases, so it always looks great, from spring to fall. The powerful deep-pink color of the flowers will bring your garden alive in May, and this tree grows well across a wide area, from cold zone 4 all the way into zone 8, covering almost all the country. The colorful flowers are followed by purple-red young leaves, which turn dark green in summer, and then take on powerful shades of orange in fall. The heavy crop of small dark-red crab apples covers the tree by fall, and they last into winter, long after the leaves have fallen, adding another season of beauty. Even the smooth, shiny bark is beautiful.
- Vibrant display of deep-pink flowers in spring
- purple-red crab apples persist into winter
- Forms a small, upright tree, ideal as a lawn specimen
- Leaves begin purple-red, turn deep green, and orange in fall
- Highly resistant to common apple diseases
Your Praire Fire Crab Apple Tree will grow best in a sunny spot, or with just a little shade. It grows in most garden soils but avoid planting in very wet areas. Water regularly during the first growing season, but once it is established this tree is moderately drought resistant. Trees growing on sandy soils will need more water, and all trees benefit from mulch of compost or organic material placed over the root-area in spring. Unlike older types of crab apples, this tree has been bred to be resistant to most major diseases, and it will grow well with minimal attention.
Flowering crab apple trees are the top choice for spring flowering in colder regions. They are much hardier than other trees that flower in spring, such as Japanese Flowering Cherry, and they flower later, in May. They make ideal spring trees in cold areas, and in warmer regions they continue the spring display later into the year, as well as adding stronger colors. There are many types of crab apple tree to choose from, but of them all, the Prairie Fire Crab Apple Tree is a top choice, recommended by many gardening experts. It is a beautiful tree with rich, vibrant flowers colored deep pink. These are carried in dense clusters all along the bare branches in late spring. This tree really makes a splash of color, and it is especially worthwhile because it is much more resistant to common diseases than older types of crab apple tree.
Growing Prairie Fire Crabapple Trees
Experts consider the Prairie Fire Crab Apple to be among the most outstanding varieties you can grow – and there are many varieties to choose from. Why? Because it combines all the most desirable features of crab apples, with strong resistance to disease. Unlike old varieties you may have grown, the foliage stays healthy all summer, and the fruit is clean and bright. You can further help keep your tree disease-free by raking up and destroying the leaves in fall. As well, if you need to prune your tree, do it in winter or summer, and avoid cutting branches in spring, when disease is lurking, ready to strike through fresh cuts.
Size and Appearance
The Prairie Fire Crab Apple grows into a broad, upright tree 15 feet tall, eventually reaching perhaps 20 feet. It is a wide as it is tall, so for a smaller garden this is an ideal shade tree, or it can be grown as a lawn specimen in any garden. The fun begins in spring, when the dense clusters of flower buds begin to swell, quickly coloring deep pink as the first warm days arrive. By early May the buds are opening into pinky-red flowers of a deep, rich color that will bring your garden alive.
As the flowers begin to fade you will see the first leaves emerging, and these are purple-red, adding color to the garden as the flowers fade. During summer these turn deep green, with red veins, holding our attention. Then in fall the leaves turn powerful shades of orange to end an exciting season. By fall the hanging clusters of fruit will become apparent, and these are a rich purple-red color.
Uses in the Kitchen
As an added bonus, you can harvest the apples and turn them into the most delicious jelly, of a purple-pink color that will brighten the breakfast table all winter long. If you don’t take advantage of this free bounty, then they will hang decoratively on the bare branches well into winter, before the birds turn to them for treats during the coldest days. In nature, nothing goes to waste.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant the Prairie Fire Crab Apple in a sunny or lightly shaded location, allowing plenty of room for its final width and height. It will grow in most garden soils, but it does best in rich, slightly acidic soils, so add plenty of compost or other organic material to the soil when you plant. Water regularly for the first season or two, but once established this tree will shrug off normal summer dry periods. If you see the leaves looking dull and drooping, soak the roots thoroughly from a slow-running hose.
History and Origins of the Prairie Fire Crabapple
Crab apples are relatives of the edible apple, Malus pumila. There are numerous species of these small, sour apples, growing from Europe to China, and for centuries they have been hybridized and bred to develop ornamental forms with larger, colorful flowers and decorative fruits. Diseases have always been a problem with apples of all kinds, including crab apples, and plant breeders have worked to develop more resistant forms, while also looking for beauty.
The variety ‘Prairiefire’ was developed by Dr. Daniel Dayton, who worked in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Illinois. He created many seedlings, looking for new plants that were disease resistant and beautiful, and all the experts agree that he certainly found it with this tree. He introduced ‘Prairiefire’ to growers in 1982, and it has quickly become a favorite of everyone who grows it.
Our plants are produced from stem pieces of plants directly descended from his original seedling, and they are 100% genetically identical to it. The stem pieces are attached to specially-bred apple roots, to form a grafted tree – the stem and the root fuse together to form a single plant. These vigorous plants are in high demand, so our stock will not last long.