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Crab Apple

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

Malus sylvestris

The Crab Apple or Wild Apple is a deciduous tree, growing to about 10 meters, native to most of Europe. It is very rare in the wild, where it exists on the fringes of the forest as it is intolerant of shade and requires high amounts of light. It is widely cultivated in gardens, parks and avenues due to attractive spring flowers and autumnal fruit.

Crab Apple, Malus sylvestris, Bonsai, Spring
Crab Apple, Malus sylvestris, Bonsai, Spring

Styles & Sizes: A popular bonsai species in Europe, and is full of charter all year round, from its flowers in spring to its lush green leaves and fruits in summer and bright red apples in autumn. It is best grown as a medium to large bonsai and is mostly available in an informal upright style.

Position: Prefers a full-sun location, though it does not like being in a windy aspect, especially if rain/water is in short supply.

Feeding: Feed with a balanced organic feed, every two weeks if using a liquid feed, every other month if using a pelletised version or after the pellets have fully dissolved away. During the fruiting season, from early spring until the end of summer it will benefit from a weekly dose of an organic feed. During the fruiting season ensure to water thoroughly as the fruiting will put a tremendous demand on water.

Repotting: In younger specimens grow roots build up rapidly, so they need to be repotted every year. Older trees can be re-potted as necessary, generally, if the growth in the current year is not as healthy as it can be it will benefit from a repotting in the following spring. Use a well-mulched bark, sharp sand, in equal parts. Alternatively, you can use a mix of Akadama and Pumice in equal parts.

Pruning: Prune back current year’s growth to leave 3 lateral shoots or three active nodes. Structural pruning and pruning of thick branches to be undertaken in early spring. Remember that any winter pruning will reduce next seasons flowering buds. To maintain a healthy trunk system, you will need to remove any suckers as they appear.

Wiring: Wire in autumn, and remove wire before bud break in spring. Leaving wire on longer may result in scarring of the branch.

Buy species: You can find Crab Apples on

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