The stunning red jewel crabapple is one of the most popular white flowering crabapple trees worldwide. The petite white flowers that appear in spring are later replaced with crimson-red crabapples that look great next to evergreen trees.
In fact, it’s during winter when this crabapple tree may actually look its best.
Keep reading to see why a red jewel is the best crabapple tree to add to your landscaping!
Are you looking to purchase the red jewel crabapple tree? Check availability.
History of Crabapple Trees
Almost all varieties of crabapple trees are native to Europe and Asia. So how did they get to the United States? The colonists were the ones to bring the crabapple to North America via seeds and cuttings.
All we know about the red jewel’s history is that it’s not native to the US. Maybe it was part of the early colony agriculture, or maybe it was brought here another way. The exact time period and means will always be mysteries.
When the colonists were establishing plants they brought with them to the New World, apples weren’t meant for eating and snacking as they are today. Apples were grown for making ciders. This was because random hybridization had made apples small and bitter — hence, the crabapple.
Besides the flavor profiles, the main difference between crabapples and regular apples you see at your grocery store is size. If an apple is smaller than 2 inches in diameter, it’s considered a crabapple.
Characteristics of the Red Jewel Crabapple
The red jewel crabapple is one of the smallest crabapple tree varieties. This tree grows 12 to 15 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide. It grows in an upright habit and has shiny dark green foliage.
During the spring and summer, the deep green leaves boasts a beautiful contrast to the tree’s white and light pink-hued flowers. Once the flowers start to fall is when the crabapples begin to grow.
The red jewel grows ½ inch crimson red crabapples in the fall and winter months that pop against holly and evergreen foliage—making it a beautiful landscaping addition in the cooler months.
Are These Edible Crabapples?
Trick question! Technically, all crabapples are edible — but that doesn’t mean they are good to eat.
These particular crabapples are incredibly bitter-tasting. So while they won’t harm you, you won’t enjoy eating them. You may want to just leave them for wildlife to enjoy.
Growing the Red Jewel Crabapple at Home
The red jewel crabapple is easy to grow and maintain, so it’s perfect for those with little time for high-maintenance landscaping.
This crabapple can grow in almost any soil, whether loamy or clay-filled.
Pro-tip: when planting the red jewel crabapple, mound up a good well-draining potting soil 18 to 24 inches high and 36 inches wide to plant the tree into. This helps establish a healthy tree in the native soil.
It’s best to plant either in the spring or fall and make sure to pick a spot where there is full to partial sun. The best location is an area that gets mostly morning sun.
You’ll need to water the tree a few times a week while it’s establishing to keep the soil moist. Once it is established you shouldn’t have to worry about constant watering as long as there’s regular rainfall.
These are the basics of growing the red jewel crabapple. If you’d like a more in-depth resource, you can read our blog post ont how to plant a crabapple tree for additional planting details.
Spacing and Pollination
If you’re thinking of planting multiple red jewel crabapple trees, you’ll need to space them at least 10 feet apart.
Did you know these trees double as beautiful privacy landscaping? You can plant these crabapples 6 to 8 feet apart, and they will spread out and create an all-natural privacy fence.
Pro-tip, when planting in groupings, keep them in odd numbers. Sets of 3 or 5 look much more natural to the eye than groups of 2.
Of course, you do not need to plant multiples of these trees because nature does take care of pollination. Whether in groups or alone, these trees bloom beautifully and produce those gorgeous ruby-red crabapples.
Unlike other fruit-bearing trees, the red jewel crabapple doesn’t require much pruning.
If you’d like to shape the tree or remove any dead or diseased branches, do this in the winter while the tree is dormant.
Not sure of the best way to prune? Read our detailed article on pruning crabapple trees.
Pests and Diseases
All fruit trees will attract some kind of pests. The biggest is aphids and other insects like Japanese beetles. Bees are also drawn to crabapples — they’re not pests, but you’ll want to be careful not to get stung when you’re near your tree.
Of course, many types of pest repellent on the market can deter these annoying insects chemically or organically.
The red jewel crabapple is exceptionally disease resistant. They can still get these diseases like blight, rust, and apple scab, but they’re less likely than other varieties.
If you believe your tree shows some signs of disease but need clarification on what condition, check out our comprehensive article on crabapple tree diseases.
Purchasing the Red Jewel Crabapple Tree
You can purchase a red jewel crabapple as a bare root plant or a container tree.
The bare root version is ready to plant, but as the name suggests is just the roots without a soil root ball and without any foliage on the branches. The advantage is that the roots quickly become established in the ground because they don’t have to fight through a root ball into the garden soil.
Containers are much more costly, but you’re buying a very young tree someone else has begun growing for you. Both are great options, but containers offer more instant gratification once planted.
You can find bare-root specimens of this crabapple at one of our favorite retailers, Nature Hills Nursery. Order yours in time for spring planting or to add to your fall planting lineup!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are crabapples toxic to my pets?
In short, yes. The crabapples seeds, stems, and leaves contain trace amounts of cyanide. While these levels are minimal, it would depend on how many crabapples have been ingested by your pet.
Ingested in large amounts can cause serious side effects that warrant a vet visit as soon as possible.
It’s best not to plant crabapple trees where you let your pets run and play.
Will crabapple trees attract more animals to my yard?
Crabapple trees are one of the best attractions for all types of native birds, especially during the winter months, when they can snack on the fruit.
Most commonly seen are cardinals, cedar waxwings, and robins.
Do crabapple trees make a mess?
Unfortunately, crabapple trees can cause a bit of a mess once their fruits start to drop. The good news is they are easily raked up and removed so as not to be unsightly.
If left, the fruit can attract wasps and other pesky insects that you would rather keep away from your home.
How long does the red jewel crabapple tree take to bloom?
Typically once established, these crabapple trees can take 3 to 4 years before you see that first beautiful blossom. But it is worth it in the long run if you have the patience.
Wrapping up the Red Jewel Crabapple Tree
Although these are not tasty snacking fruits, you’ll be delighted by the beauty of this petite tree and the crimson-red crabapples that fill its branches. The red jewel crabapple is an easy-to-maintain tree that doesn’t need special care and can grow anywhere across the US and in any soil type.
Visit our Crabapple Trees page to learn about other crabapple tree varieties to plant in your yard this spring!