One bonsai variety that I’d like to see a lot more of is crabapple. They make great shohin, great mid-size trees in medium displays, and, occasionally, outstanding full-size specimens.
Kokufu Prize-winning crabapple on display in 2016
I particularly appreciate the color they can add to fall shows. One common variety of crabapple is Malus sieboldii. I started some from seed last year and have found they grow quickly.
Now is a good time to wire deciduous seedlings like crabapple. If you have seedlings that are still perfectly straight, grab some wire and gently apply it to the trunk.
Wired crabapple seedling
Once the wire is in place, add some bends.
It’s hard to go too wrong at this point. The main thing is to avoid finding several flats of unwired trees in your collection that are too stiff to bend.
Have more than one? Try making some tall and some short, some twisty and others curvy. There’s still time to adjust the ultimate size and style of the trees in the future. With a little wire, they’ll be that much more fun to work with next spring.
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Edward Stanton says
I enjoy my crabapple (Malus halliana) not only because of its color in fall, but even more in summer, at a time when most other flowering bonsai have already blossomed and the bonsai garden can use some splashes of red and purple–the color of the crabapple’s new leaves.
Have you tried the Oregon or Pacific crabapple (Malus fiscal)? Or are you too far south?
Jonas Dupuich says
Hi Graham – I haven’t tried it, this is my first foray into crabapple at any scale. There are lots of good varieties of crabapple and I hope to see a lot more over time.
Have you grafted any crabapples?….I have a small crabapple that flowers nicely every year and want to propogate it….plan on trying this january…. my tree always puts out volunteers from the roots and I have some that have rooted well…any suggestions?
I always try to keep some fruit on the tree but the $%^&* squirrels take them before they are mature….Thank you
Jonas Dupuich says
I haven’t grafted crabapple, but it’s a common way to propagate them. Softwood cuttings in May or June also take well. Dirr and Heuser, Jr.’s Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation has a good section on crabapple.
Jonas….thanks….will check that out….
Houston Sanders says
I’ve grown apples from seed, and it takes 15 years to get flowers and fruit! I’ve found that a better way to propagate apples is to use root cuttings from mature bonsai or prebonsai. Just save the larger root pieces you cut off during repotting and plant them leaving about 1 cm above the soil surface. I get about 30% to grow – more than enough for a hobbyist. Treat them just as Jonas described for seedlings. It takes a few years (2 or three) for them to be strong enough to flower.