Prairie Fire Crabapple Tree Resists Apple Scab

Prairie Fire Crabapple Tree Resists Apple Scab

Set Your Garden Abloom in Spring, Berried in Fall with Prairie Fire Crabapple Tree

Crabapple trees are hardy, have dependable and beautiful spring bloom, and autumn fruits that persist into winter. Their blooms nourish bees, and their fruits feed birds. They are a size that is integrated easily into most landscapes, with choices of flower and foliage color. Is it any wonder that these are desirable trees for your home landscape? The Prairie Fire Crabapple tree is one of the best of them.

Malus x Prairie Fire is one of the best scab resistant crabapple cultivars

I have five of them in my yard at this time. After researching, I chose the “Prairie Fire” crabapple tree variety to offset the one great fault of crabapple trees in my area: apple scab. This fungal problem won’t kill the trees, but causes them to lose their leaves prematurely. You can see why a scab resistant variety would be an important consideration.

Steps to Ornamental tree success: how to select a tree; how to dig the right hole for it; how to plant a tree

Prairie Fire has proven to be resistant to apple scab in all but the worst years. In those years, the Prairie Fire crabapple tree puts up a good fight to retain its leaves and its beauty.

After a number of years of growing this variety, I have to say it is one of the better ornamental tree choices I have made in the garden. I am not overly fond of purple leaved trees (although I seem to just love the ones that are in my small circle of those I planted). But for many reasons this is one of the exceptions, and the pink spring bloom has been spectacular every year. The Prairie Fire Crab also keeps a compact, slightly upward growing shape, staying smaller than the ‘Snowdrift’ variety I grow.

How To Grow Prairie Fire Crabapple Trees

pink crabapple

Prairie Fire Crabapple Tree


the look The Prairie Fire variety has dusky purple-tinged foliage, in summer and small fruit of a maroon color, but it is the deep burgundy-red leaves and bright pink bloom of spring that is the glorious attraction of this tree. It grows to about 15 to 25 feet tall and 10 to 20 feet wide with a rounded upright form.

the requirements

All the crabapples are fairly undemanding trees, they like normal soil conditions and normal amounts of moisture compared with most trees. Hardy in zones 4-7. Growing well on clay soil, they appreciate the finer fare of loam, but don’t demand it, they do need decent drainage. Give it full sun. Air circulation would further restrain apple scab from developing, but I have lots of air circulation around all my trees, and it is more a matter of inbred resistance.

Use the usual method of planting the young trees.

Also, position the tree to best effect in your garden and dig the hole right.

crabapples and bluebells

Pink and Blue in April

the companions

Because of the purple foliage and pink bloom, this tree can center in any plan that uses purple foliage. Accompanied by moss phlox in shades of pink, pink and white tulips, Virginia bluebells, it will create a wonderful Spring picture. “Morning Light” Miscanthus grasses in clumps nearby, makes a gorgeous complement with Japanese Barberry ‘Rose Glow’ (Berberis thunbergii). If you prefer eye-catching contrasts, use “Goldsturm” rudbeckia with its golden, black-centered daisies later in the season which would be striking with the leaves and red fruits of the Crabapple.

  1. This crabapple variety is very disease resistant- especially to scab.
  2. It is a very hardy and showy ornamental tree
  3. A beautiful specimen tree
  4. Good for feeding wildlife
  5. Berries provide winter interest (until the birds eat them!)
  6. The dusky purple foliage and pink flowers are striking

For good reason, the “Prairie Fire” crabapple tree was voted Iowa’s Tree of the Year in 1996. It will perform well for the Midwestern states.

Because it is one of my favorite trees, I have written other posts, with my photos, about it:

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You can buy ‘Prairie Fire’ Crabapple trees from this vendor:

Prairie Fire Crabapple By Gurney’s Seed & Nursery CompanyPrairie Fire Crabapple tree for sale


Crabapple – Prairiefire
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

More info at a glance on the “Prairie Fire” crabapple.