Prairie Fire Crabapple Tree Resists Apple Scab

Prairie Fire Crabapple Tree Resists Apple Scab

Prairie Fire Crabapple Tree Abloom in Spring, Berried in Fall

Crabapple trees are hardy, have dependable and beautiful spring bloom, and autumn fruits that persist into winter. Prairie Fire Crabapple tree is one of the best of them. Besides the beautiful flowers and dusky foliage, Malus x Prairie Fire is one of the best scab resistant cultivars, which makes it a top landscape choice.

Three Reasons To Plant Crabapples

  • The blooms nourish bees, and their fruits feed birds.
  • They are a size that is integrated easily into most landscapes
  • Both flower and foliage color are attractive features.

Is it any wonder that these are desirable trees for your home landscape?


Prairie Fire Crabapple Tree – Established Roots – Flowering – 2 Gallon Potted by Grower’s Solution

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 still puts up a good fight to retain its leaves and its beauty.

After a number of years of growing it, I have to say this is one of the better ornamental tree choices I have made in the garden.

Purple Foliage

Do you love deep foliage in maroon and burgundy tints? I am not overly fond of purple-leaved trees usually -although I seem to just love the ones that are in my small chosen circle of cultivars. This tree, however, has softer tints that gives it an interesting contrast of color without the overbearing heaviness of purple leaf like those of a maple ( ‘Crimson King’ comes to mind ).

For many reasons this crabapple is one of the exceptional plants with purple foliage which has been a real asset in the landscape; and the pink spring bloom has been spectacular every year.

‘Prairie Fire’ 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

How It Looks

The Prairie Fire variety has dusky purple-tinged foliage, in summer and small fruit of a maroon color.

It is the deep burgundy-red leaves and bright pink bloom of spring that is the glorious attraction of this tree.

Growing to about 15 to 25 feet tall and 10 to 20 feet wide with a rounded upright form. It’s shape is something between rounded and vase-shaped.

Growing 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 a full sun exposure.
  • Good air circulation further restrains apple scab from developing.
  • This tree is naturally resistant to apple scab disease

How to Plant a Crabapple Tree

Use the usual method of planting the young trees. Tree flare at soil level, hole 2-3 times wider than rootball, adding some amendment to backfill. Make sure the soil is firmed and well watered in.

Where to Plant

Position the tree to best effect in your garden and dig the hole the right way. Grown as a small grove, a line, or as specimens.

crabapples and bluebells

Pink and Blue in April

In the Garden

This tree can have center stage in any plan that uses purple foliage, because of the maroon tinged foliage and pink bloom.

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 small red fruits of the Crabapple.

Reasons This Tree Is A Good Choice

  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. Fruits provide winter interest (until the birds eat them!)
  6. The dusky purple foliage and pink flowers are striking

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

Protect from Deer and Rabbits

I do have one sad story about the first Prairie Fire tree I planted in my garden.

A couple of years ago we had an extreme winter with an unusual amount of snow cover. Rodents (rabbits I believe) took advantage of the sheltered area around the trunk and completely girdled the tree.

It took a season for me to discover what caused my tree to decline. Thus, it was decided to cut it down, since a girdled trunk cannot recover. It should be noted that I have a low growing Taxus there that may have also proved inviting cover for winter lunching.

Thankfully, I have three other Prairiefire trees in that part of the property.

It may be a good idea to wrap the trunk of the tree with tree wrap or hardware cloth, if you have trouble with browsing animals such as deer or rabbits.
Pictures and Reports From Ilona’s Garden Journal
Because it is one of my favorite trees, I have written  a number of posts about it, illustrated with my photos,.

Crabapple – Prairiefire
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.