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The Snowdrift Crabapple Tree

That’s not snow on the tree; snow doesn’t have a fragrant scent, and bees and other pollinators would rather avoid snow. However, the Snowdrift Crabapple tree does warrant its name when it’s covered with snowy white blossoms!

Whether or not you eat its fruit, this tree is a beautiful garden addition and provides a lovely outdoor perfume.

Read on to learn about this fragrant and ornamental crabapple tree!

Looking to plant a Snowdrift Crabapple tree? Check availability.

The white flowers and pink blossoms of a Snowdrift Crabapple Tree in Spring in front of blue sky background

The Snowdrift’s History

As members of the Rosaceae family, new crabapple tree varieties are always being created and introduced to society. So far, 800 cultivars have been bred not only for physical features but also for disease resistance.

In 1965, Ohio’s Cole Nursery Company introduced this hardy hybrid, which could fit any landscape. Its other desirable features were fruit and leaf color, fruit size and shape, and disease resistance. Since its debut, the Snowdrift has become a popular variety for home gardeners.

Characteristics of the Snowdrift Crabapple

White blossoms on dropping branches of a crabapple tree.

The Malus Snowdrift is a deciduous and self-pollinating crabapple tree known for its flower profusion and dense canopy.

This cultivar produces fruit from its drooping branches about three to five years after you first plant it. Under the right conditions, it can live up to 50 years.


The crabapples start as pink-red buds, which, in mid-spring, change to snow-white blossoms with yellow anthers inside. The profusing clusters of white flowers create a snowdrift effect on the tree, hence its name.

Each blossom is 1¾ of an inch in diameter, emitting a sweet scent, catching the noses of those passing by. They may have the look of winter, but they’ve got the smell of spring to them!


In the fall, the flowers change into masses of round, fleshy, and tart orange-red crabapples. Each diameter is ⅜–½ of an inch, making them the perfect food source for wildlife as they last into winter.

Unlike the fruits of other crabapple trees, these don’t drop after maturing in the fall.


The Snowdrift Crabapple grow into a densely-branched, upright, broad-rounded vase shape with strong, wind-resistant limbs. It grows 15–20 feet tall and wide, with height increases of 1-2 feet per year.

The foliage consists of 2–4-inch glossy deep green oval leaves that turn yellow in the fall.

Fruit for Eating or Show

Small red crabapples.

While Snowdrift Crabapple fruit is mainly a food source for wildlife, you can eat them. Ornamental crabapples are known to be sour, bitter, and tart, since they aren’t bred specifically for the fruit.

If you choose to eat these tiny apples, cook them to make the taste less puckering. Don’t forget to remove the seeds and cores — there are toxins in crabapple seeds that turn into cyanide when ingested.

Here are a few ways you can eat them:

  • Jams and jellies: With the Snowdrift variety, you’ll need plenty of sugar to sweeten the flavor. Luckily the crabapples produce enough pectin, so it’s easy to make jelly. Just don’t overcook them or the jelly won’t set!
  • Cider: You could press these crabapples into cider or buy a semi-dry cider of this variety from the Haykin Family Cidery. Try their cider first if you need a sound decision for whether or not to press your harvested Snowdrift crabapples!

Learn to Grow Snowdrift Crabapples

Closeup of white crabapple blossoms.

The Snowdrift Crabapple is great for gardening beginners since it doesn’t require much maintenance. You can plant your tree in hardiness zones 4–8.

Planting Location and Season

The ideal spot should have six hours of full sunlight and enough space to accommodate the tree’s size. Also, the spot should allow for enough air circulation and not have sunken areas that could become frost pockets.

If you’ve purchased a bare-root tree, plant it in early spring.

Soil and Spacing

Whatever soil you use, the tree is widely adaptable to many types, even compact soil. The important thing is that it’s well-draining and moderately fertile, with a pH level of 6.0–7.0.

If you have more than one Snowdrift Crabapple to plant, space them 20 to 25 feet apart.


Never let the soil dry out when the tree is young; water regularly during the first few growing seasons. After the root system is established, only water when the soil needs it.

To moisten the soil consistently, spread a layer of mulch on the surface around the tree.


The Snowdrift Crabapple requires only minimal pruning in late winter. If you find any damaged, misplaced, or diseased growths or water sprouts on the tree, remove them.

Pruning in June is the time for removing suckers and improving the tree’s air circulation. The buds for the next growing season will appear in mid-summer, so you don’t want to do any pruning once those develop.

Pest and Disease Control

If you’ve had trouble with deer and rabbits eating your plants, that won’t be the case for the Snowdrift Crabapple. Deer prefer sweet crabapples, and rabbits don’t like strong fragrances near their food sources.

Spring pruning makes the tree susceptible to fireblight since the open cuts let in bacteria. So only prune during the recommended times. However, this tree is resistant to other crabapple tree diseases like verticillium wilt, cedar apple rust, and mildew.

The Snowdrift may be susceptible to apple scab, but you can take preventive measures by removing fallen leaves and fruit. Use Neem Oil when the buds start showing their pink color.

Landscaping Uses for the Snowdrift Crabapple Tree

White and pink crabapple trees lining a road.

Flowering crabapple trees are usually bred for their flowers rather than the fruit. Here are a few ways you can use a Snowdrift in your garden or landscape.

Pollinating Apple Trees

If you have an apple tree in your yard, the Snowdrift Crabapple can be a cross-pollinator. Just know that it depends on the trees’ flower colors — bees prefer matching flower colors when foraging and pollinating blossoms.

Be sure to keep the distance between the trees within 20–50 feet of each other, depending on their bloom periods!

Ornamental Landscaping

One Snowdrift Crabapple stands out in small yards or city or cottage gardens as a lawn or parkway tree. Plant it as a focal point, a specimen plant, or if you need shade for your property.

And if you need privacy, you can plant multiple crabapple trees along a property line. You won’t have to settle for generic hedges!

Feeding Wildlife

Perhaps you’re a birdwatcher who loves seeing and hearing a songbird or two. Since Snowdrift Crabapple fruit lasts through the winter, birds can eat them in any weather.

Because the crabapple tree’s blossoms are rich in nectar, butterflies will regularly appear—a welcoming sight while pollinating. Even squirrels will have something to eat besides nuts!

Where to Buy the Tree

Closeup of white crabapple blossoms against tree bark.

Would you like to add the Snowdrift’s gorgeous blossoms, foliage, and fruit to your landscape? If the answer is “yes,” we can point you in the right direction!

We highly recommend the Snowdrift crabapple sold online by one of our favorite retailers, Stark Bros. You can order 3–4-foot tall bare-root crabapple trees that are professionally pruned before shipping.

The Scent-sational Snowdrift Crabapple Tree

A closeup of a small cluster of crabapple with snow on them.

For visual beauty and fragrance in your yard, the Snowdrift Crabapple is the ideal tree to add this year. Anybody who isn’t fond of winter will be able to admit this is one snowdrift they’ll want to keep in the yard year-round.

To learn more about these fruit and flowering varieties, visit our Crabapple Trees page!