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The Tina Crabapple Tree

Do you love the look of a flowering crabapple but don’t have room for a full-sized tree? The tina (Sargent) crabapple is a beautiful ornamental variety of crabtree that works well as a shrub or border plant if your space can’t accommodate a taller crabapple tree.

Already ready to purchase this shrub or tree? Check availability.

Read on to learn all about the Tina Crabapple and how to grow your own!

Characteristics of the Tina Crabapple Tree

Tina Crabapple


The Tina Crabapple tree is a petite variety that can be grown from about 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide to 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide. This makes it a nice option for anyone who doesn’t have room for a full-sized crabapple tree, as you can control the ultimate size at maturity as desired.


Tina Crabapple trees provide year-round color. Beginning in the spring, red and pink buds sprout on the tree’s branches, turning into fragrant snow-white blossoms. Bright green leaves turn to a golden yellow in the fall, and the small, bright red fruits cling in clusters to the branches all the way into winter.

A unique characteristic of the Tina Crabapple tree is that its production will slow every other year. You may have bountiful blooms and berries one year but then notice less growth the following year. In the third year, production will be robust again, and so on.

Benefits to wildlife

Butterflies, bees, and birds are attracted to the Tina Crabapple tree. Birds especially love to eat the tiny berries produced by the Tina Crabapple.

History of the Tina Crabapple Tree

Sargent crabapple 'Tina' (Malus sargentii)

The Tina Crabapple is native to Japan but was introduced to North America around 1892 by Charles Sprague Sargent.

Sargent was from a wealthy family and graduated from Harvard University in the mid-1800s. After serving in the Civil War, he returned home to tend to his parent’s farm, where his love for horticulture grew.

Sargent became the director of the Harvard Botanical Garden in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and later of the new Harvard Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. He served there until his death 50 years later. This arboretum has become one of the preeminent arboretums in the world.

During his career, Sargent went to every corner of the globe to find new plants. Two plants that he discovered in Japan and brought back to the United States were named after him, one of them being the Sargent (tina) crabapple.

Interestingly, Sargent was instrumental in establishing forestry research in the United States. He created the Bureau of Forestry, which eventually became the US Department of Agriculture.

How to use the Tina Crabapple Tree

Branches with flowers of Malus sargentii or Sargent crabapple.

Decorative–shrub or tree

Tina Crabapple trees are not usually grown for their edible, slightly sweet fruits. This is simply because the berries are so small people prefer to leave them to the birds and bees.

The trees do, however, provide unmatched visual interest throughout the year. They can be grown as a tree or shrubs. Given the trees’ spreading branches and thick foliage, they are an especially great choice to grow in a bonsai style.

However you choose to grow a Tina Crabapple tree, it will always provide eye candy in your yard or garden with its clusters of fragrant white blossoms, bright red berries, and green-to-yellow-to-gold foliage.

Wildlife attractor

If you enjoy observing wildlife, the Tina Crabapple is sure to please. Butterflies, bees, and birds (such as robins, hummingbirds, cedar waxwings, grosbeaks, and mockingbirds) are all big fans of the Tina Crabapple.

Companion pollinator

The Tina Crabapple tree also makes a great companion to traditional apple trees. They can be used to pollinate their apple neighbors, increasing apple fruit yield. (Note, however, that bees tend to stick to flowers of the same color, so try matching your crabapple and apple flower colors.)

Growing Your Tina Crabapple Tree

Sargent crabapple (Malus sargentii) with fruits
Sargent crabapple (Malus sargentii) with fruits


It is relatively easy to propagate a Tina Crabapple tree from a cutting from a healthy, established tree.

Find a branch that is exhibiting some new growth and measures about ⅛ of an inch in diameter. Remove the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the branch, and scrape away some of the bark. Cut the branch at a 45-degree angle.

If you’d like, use a rooting hormone on the cut end of the cutting (follow the directions on the hormone you choose). Once the rooting hormone has had a chance to soak in, plant the cut side of the branch down into a container filled with potting mix.

Place the container in indirect light, and check the bottom of the container after about 3 months to see if roots have started. Once they have, transplant the sapling to a larger container for another 1 to 3 months before moving outside.

Sun, soil, and space

Like most crabapple varieties, the Tina Crabapple is adaptable to many soil types and conditions; however, this tree does prefer a well-draining, slightly acidic soil. The Tina Crabapple tree also thrives in full sun.

Tina Crabapple trees should be spaced at least 5 to 10 feet apart. They need plenty of room to spread–their branches and roots.

Fertilizing and Winterizing

Generally, Tina Crabapple trees do just fine without fertilizer. That being said, adding mulch around the base of your tree in the winter can help it better sustain cold temperatures and emerge healthier in the spring.


Until your Tina Crabapple tree is established (usually just through the first year), water it well and regularly–at least once a week. The tree needs consistently moist soil to do its best. Established trees can tolerate some drought, but it’s best to avoid such conditions if possible. Give established trees water during dry spells and more regularly just before the blooming season in the spring.


Some pruning is necessary for your Tina Crabapple. Avoid pruning in the spring, as this leaves the tree vulnerable to bacterial infection. Instead, prune lightly in the late winter, removing dead, diseased, or dying branches.

Pests and diseases

This tree is very resistant to pests and diseases but does show some susceptibility to fire blight, apple scab, and leaf spot. Problematic insects include Japanese beetles, scale, spider mites, tent caterpillars, borers, and aphids, though the Tina Crabapple tree isn’t terribly attractive to these pests.

Where to Buy Tina Crabapple Trees

Check your local nursery for a Tina Crabapple tree to plant in your yard or garden. Experts at these retailers can give you lots of good information on how to grow a strong, healthy tree in your area and can help you decide if it is a good choice.

If you can’t find a local retailer that offers a Tina Crabapple tree, you can find saplings online at retailers like Nature Hills.

Wrapping up the Tina Crabapple Tree

Whether you have a long driveway to line with something pretty, a backyard framed in dense evergreens calling for some color, or a townhouse patio in need of some privacy, the Tina Crabapple tree will provide.

Easy to care for and full of fragrant potential, this cultivar has it all–showy flowers and foliage, bright berries, and an almost magical-looking expanse of delicate branches.

Enhance your outdoor space with a Tina Crabapple tree, or learn more about other varieties of crabapple trees to see which is right for your space!