Are the flowers on your crabapple tree starting to look a bit sparse? This is a sign that your tree is demanding a bit of care. Crabapples, when healthy, should be completely covered in blooms in the spring. Here are three ways to boost your tree's health and improve its blooming for the next season.
Give it a good trim.
If your crabapple has a lot of older, dead branches, these may be "sucking" nutrients from the plant that it could otherwise be using to create flowers and new growth. A good trim should set things right. If you're handy with the trimmers, feel free to tackle this chore yourself. Aim to remove branches that are all brown (if they are still partially green, they are younger branches). Don't remove more than 1/3 of the tree's branches at once – it does need enough leaves to capture sunlight and make food. Also, make sure you're using sharp trimmers that make clean cuts. Jagged cuts take the tree longer to "heal."
Check for any pests – and eradicate them.
There are a number of pests that can bother crabapple trees; the most common are aphids, caterpillars and mites. If your tree is infested, it may be putting too much energy into protecting itself from these pests and not enough into blooming. Or, the pests may be destroying the flower buds before they get the chance to bloom. Take a close look at your tree's leaves. If you see any pests or any chew marks that look like they came from pests, have your tree sprayed with pesticides to eradicate them.
Apply some fertilizer.
If your tree has been around for a while, it may have depleted the soil of essential nutrients. A lack of nutrients can lead to poor blooming. Purchase a generic, 10-10-10 fertilizer from a garden store, and prepare it according to the instructions. Pour it in a wide circle around the base of the tree so it's sure to come into contact with the roots. If you prefer, you can also use an organic fertilizer such as manure or mushroom compost. Scatter thin layers around the tree from time to time; it will break down and add nutrients to the soil slowly.
If you follow the tips above, your crabapple tree should look far more beautiful the next time it comes into bloom. For more assistance, speak with a tree care professional like one from R. L. Elliott Enterprises, Inc.