Crabapples can offer everything you could possibly want in an ornamental tree - moderate size, a dazzling display of white, pink or magenta flowers, colorful fruit, and adaptability to a wide range of growing conditions.
Unfortunately, despite hundreds of crabapples being introduced to the gardening public over the past hundred years (some references suggest nearly 900 named varieties), “perfect” crabapple trees are few and far between.
In fact, after reviewing recent evaluations of more than 100 different crabapple trees conducted at Ohio State, Purdue, and the universities of Kentucky, Illinois and Rhode Island, I’ve identified only sixteen crabapple varieties that combine good ornamental traits – reliable flowering every year and colorful fruit that stay on the plant well into the winter or even following spring (above left) - with good resistance to both apple scab infection and feeding injury by adult Japanese beetles.
What I found particularly interesting during my review is that none of the university-based evaluations identified any high-performing, red-leafed crabapple varieties. Yet, several of these more disease-prone varieties are often sold by nurseries, garden centers and home improvement centers.
Below is my list of recommended white and pink/red flowering crabapple varieties. They all have "persistent" fruit that remain on the plant well into at least late fall/winter - thus avoiding the sticky, bee and wasp-attracting late summer mess often associated with crabapple trees, above right. And, they all have at least some reported resistance to Japanese beetles and apple scab infection.
Finally, at the very bottom of the page is a list of crabapple varieties that have proven to be very susceptible to apple scab and often drop most of their leaves by late July or early August. Unless you really like bare trees in late summer, my recommendation is to avoid adding them to your landscape!
White-flowering Crabapple Varieties
Pink/Red-flowering Crabapple Varieties
Apple Scab-Susceptible Crabapple Varieties
'Donald Wyman,' 'Red Splendor,' 'Jewelberry,' 'Indian Magic,' 'Spring Snow,' ' Snow Drift,' 'Candied Apple,' 'Robinson,' 'Royalty.'