Georgia Gardener Newsletter Cool Plant: September 7, 2006

Prairifire Crabapple
Malus x 'Prairifire'

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Native Range: Hybrid of Garden Origin
Hardiness: USDA Zones 4-8
Mature Size: 15-20 feet tall and wide
Exposure: Full Sun
Soil: Loose with organic matter and well-drained

For many years, crabapple trees were somewhat rightly ignored as desirable landscape trees due to the fact that they were often attacked by: fireblight, scab, cedar-apple rust and mildew. However, several highly disease-resistant varieties have been developed which once again bring crabapples back into a more favorable light. Prairifire is such a variety with its excellent resistance to diseases that normally plague vulnerable crabapples.

Prairifire blooms in spring before the leaves with bright red flowers. The new foliage emerges purple-red and then turns a lovely medium-dark green. Small red fruits resembling cherries appear in the late summer (pictured above). Although the fruit is edible, it's not very palatable and best left to the birds. Finally, the fall color is a blend of yellow, orange and red.

Plant Prairifire crabapples (as with most trees and shrubs) in the fall - winter (September - February). Water once a week during the growing season until established with ~4 gallons of water per week per foot of height. Fertilize in the spring after flowering. Prune only as needed right after flowering.

Prairifire crabapple is an excellent choice for locations that require smaller trees such as underneath power lines, narrow strips along streets and driveways, school gardens or even in full sun courtyards. It makes a wonderful, but smaller, alternative to flowering cherries, Bradford pears, dogwoods and Japanese maples (which may suffer in full sun). For the dedicated gardener, Prairifire can be grown in a large container or even as a bonsai.

Learn more.


Buck Jones Nursery: Grayson & Woodstock
John Deere Landscapes: multiple locations
Pike Family Nurseries: multiple locations

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