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Is My Crabapple Tree Dying? (5 Signs to Watch For)

Is My Crabapple Tree Dying? (5 Signs to Watch For)

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Crabapple trees are certainly beautiful, and many people love having them in their yards. A crabapple tree has the potential to add so much to your property.

Some love using the trees as a focal point in their yards. You might even have multiple crabapple trees in your yard.

Being able to enjoy the sight of your trees in full bloom during the spring will always be special. It can be very frustrating when the trees are having issues, though.

As with all trees and plants, crabapple trees can wind up getting diseased and dying. When your crabapple tree is dying, you’re likely going to wonder if there’s a way that you can save it.

Below, you’re going to learn about the signs that show you that your tree is dying. You’ll also learn about what you can do to attempt to save the tree.

1 – Foliage Issues

Pests On Crab Apple Tree

One of the first things you’ll likely notice is that your tree will have foliage issues. If you see that the leaves are changing in appearance, then that could be a sign that something is amiss.

It’s normal for leaves to yellow, brown, and wilt under various conditions. This isn’t necessarily an indication that the tree is dying.

However, it could indicate that the tree is stressed or weakened in some way. For example, leaves might start browning if there is a pest infestation of some sort.

If you see that the leaves look different than normal, then you should pay attention. The leaves might drop from the tree entirely, and you definitely know that the tree is in bad shape at that point.

This situation will usually be followed by the twigs and branches starting to die. If the tree is weakened so much that it can’t make food from its leaves, then it is much more likely that the tree will eventually die.

2 – Strange Flowering

Blooming Crab Apple Tree

Sometimes when a crabapple tree is dying, it’ll exhibit strange flowering characteristics. There have been situations where dying trees have flowered repeatedly.

You could also see that the tree will leaf-out at odd times. The reason why this is a sign that the tree is dying might not be clear to you, but it does make sense.

Essentially, the tree flowering in strange ways can be seen as an effort by the tree to produce seeds. It’s trying to get its seeds out there before it dies.

The idea is that the tree wants to ensure that there will be another tree in the future. For this reason, unusual flowering could be a sign that the tree is on its last legs, so to speak.

3 – Branch Issues

Branch issues can be a sign that the tree is in bad shape, too. It’s possible that certain types of viruses could have infected the tree.

Fungal infections are also quite common. A bark injury will often be a point of entry for viruses or fungi.

If you examine the bark, you might see things that resemble mushrooms. This is a sign that the tree is infected and dying.

Certain types of insects might burrow into the bark and cause damage as well. You can look out for signs of bark damage to see if the tree is dying or not.

4 – Trunk Issues

Examining the trunk of the tree is also going to be wise. Sometimes when a trunk gets cracked or scarred it’ll give pests an entry point.

Diseases might also be able to enter the trunk of the tree at the point where it has been damaged. Look at the bark on the trunk and see if it’s loose or cracked in some way.

The health of the tree could be in question. Issues at the trunk of the tree can quickly spread to the rest of the tree.

If you notice signs such as fungal crowns or oozing sap, then that’s a sure sign that your tree is in bad shape. It very well could be dying.

5 – Fruit Discoloration

Discolored Fruit On Crab Apple Tree

Fruit discoloration could be a big sign that the health of the tree isn’t good. You might notice that the crabapples that your tree is producing are smaller than usual.

Sometimes the apples might even be spotty or way too soft. When the fruit looks discolored and strange, it’s a sign that your tree is diseased in some way.

There are many different things that can cause these issues. It could be that pests have infested the tree and caused the fruit to turn out this way.

It’s also possible that fungal infections could be to blame for the tree’s condition. Significant climate issues have been known to harm trees and make them produce unusual fruit, too.

For example, issues with the weather being way too dry will have an impact on the fruit. The tree getting too little sun for many weeks in a row could play a role as well.

Without enough sun, the branches of the tree can’t get the nutrients that they need to thrive. Paying attention to the fruit can be a good way to recognize whether something is wrong with the tree.

Can a Dying Tree Be Saved?

Now that you know about some of the things that you should look out for, you’re likely wondering if the tree can be saved. In some cases, you might be able to keep the crabapple tree from dying.

It’s really going to depend on how close the tree is to dying. If the tree is already on the verge of death, then your chances of saving it will be quite low.

As such, you’re going to want to take quick action whenever you notice that something is wrong with the tree. The faster you address these issues the more likely it’ll be that the tree will survive.

The first step to saving the tree involves identifying the problem. If your tree is dealing with a fungal infection, then you’ll need to treat it using some type of fungicide.

Insect infestations will need to be treated using pesticide. You’ll have to identify the pest and buy the appropriate insecticide that is capable of remedying the issue.

It might be necessary to apply treatments over the course of several weeks. If all goes well, then you’ll be able to get rid of insects, fungi, and other things that might be harming the tree.

If the problems with the tree are environmental in nature, then you’ll need to try to solve them. You might need to ensure that the tree gets more sunlight.

Crabapple trees are meant to receive full sunlight. You might need to move the tree or prune nearby trees so that the crabapple tree gets enough sun.

Solving problems with soil quality could also be necessary. If the soil isn’t rich enough, then the tree might not be getting the necessary nutrients.

Organic mulch helps with this since it ensures that nutrients go back into the soil. Your tree might benefit from a two- to four-inch-thick organic mulch layer.

Another factor to consider is the watering regimen. If it has been too dry in your area, then you might not have done a good enough job of watering the tree.

Try to rectify this and water the tree as much as it needs to be watered. Remember not to go overboard since that can be detrimental.

Pruning Makes a Difference

Pruning Crab Apple Tree

Pruning is also something that will have a positive impact on the tree. You can prune dead branches and leaves to make the crabapple tree healthier.

This can even help to ensure that sunlight is more evenly distributed. The tree will have an easier time remaining healthy if you prune it on a semi-regular basis.

Cut away any dead or diseased branches on the tree. It’ll also be wise to prune dead leaves and fruit.

The pruning process can make the tree more vulnerable for a few weeks, but it will heal itself. Do your best to do this when you need to so that the tree will be able to focus its energy and survive.

Normally, crabapple trees don’t require heavy pruning. It’s still beneficial to prune the trees from time to time, though.

Consider Using Fertilizer

It’s possible that using some fertilizer on the crabapple tree might help. If you examine the soil and find that it lacks nutrients, then fertilizer can help you to give the tree what it needs.

Remember to use fertilizer responsibly. Too much fertilizer can be a bad thing for trees or plants.

In the future, you should keep a close eye on the soil. You can test the pH balance of the soil to see where it’s at.

Crabapple trees grow well in soil with a pH balance between 5.6 and 6.5 It’s also recommended to plant these trees in loamy soil that drains nicely.

If the soil is nutrient-rich, then the tree will be likely to thrive. As mentioned earlier, you can ensure that the soil stays nutrient-rich by utilizing organic mulch properly.

Final Thoughts

You might be able to save a dying crabapple tree if you take action fast. It’s also possible that the tree could be beyond saving.

Just do your best to pay attention to the condition of your trees. This will allow you to catch issues quickly so that you can take the necessary actions to protect the trees.

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Nan McDonald

Thursday 10th of August 2023

My month old crab apple tree is looking sick. The leaves have dark spots all over them and unfortunately some of the bark has come off the tree. Is there anyway to treat my tree so that it doesn’t die? I haven’t seen any pests on the trunk or in the soil, so I’m not sure if I should use a fungicide or a pesticide to treat the tree. I appreciate any advice you can give me. I can attach pictures if you give me a link to do that. Thank you!

Nan McDonald

Saturday 5th of August 2023

Terrific article on crabapple trees, and the problems you can have with them. Thank you for a very informative article!l. The leaves on my young crabapple tree are turning reddish brown, and some of the leaves are split. I don’t have any blooms yet, but think my tree is alright for the moment. I’ll continue to watch it carefully for any of the signs you mentioned.

Karen Calloway

Sunday 27th of November 2022

My very young crabapple tree flowered beautifully in the spring, but I didn't follow a watering regimen during the dry beginning of the summer. By the time I came to my senses, the leaves had shriveled and turned dark brown and dry, and even though I wrapped with the spiral trunk wrap during last winter, I noticed some nicks in the bark.I don't know if I can save it. Also, I don't know if I should wrap the trunk like last winter. I think the problem may be a borer or lack of watering during the beginning of the summer, or both. Any advice? Thanks very much.