Particularly in colder zones, crabapple trees take the place of flowering cherry trees in the spring display of blossoms. Hardy and reliable, these lovely trees have beautiful flowers, but most are smaller and less impressive than the cherry blossoms further south. But some are successful rivals. The Brandywine™ Crabapple Tree has large, fully-double blooms of a rich rose pink that are as beautiful as any on a cherry blossom, and that are recognized by everyone as the most impressive spring blooms available in cold areas. In many ways this tree is even better than a flowering cherry, because it also produces large crab apples that can easily be turned into delicious jelly, making this both a beautiful and useful tree perfect for every garden.
Growing Brandywine Crabapple Trees
The Brandywine Crabapple Tree grows into a medium-sized tree reaching 20 feet in time. With a broad, rounded crown, mature trees can grow to 25 feet across, so allow enough room for maturity when planting. The large oval leaves alone put on more of a color display than many other trees, beginning in spring when they emerge a rich bronzy-red, with orange tones. They mature into dark green, but they keep a reddish tint all through the summer. Then in fall they turn to rich tones, varying from reddish-orange to deep purple, making a lovely show as colder weather arrives. Even in winter the silvery young twigs continue to bring interest, while the garden sleeps.
Of course, it is the flowers that are the headline act, and what flowers they are. In April or May, all along the branches they cluster, so that the tree rivals any flowering cherry. Among the largest bloom of any crabapple, they begin as pink-red buds in dense bunches, then open into fully-double blooms, each one like a miniature rose, and only revealing their heart of bright-yellow stamens when they fully open at maturity. Not satisfied with just looking great, they also release a heady perfume, making this bloom-time a garden highlight. After the petals fall, we see clusters of tiny fruits developing, which mature to be well over an inch across, with a handsome chartreuse, yellow-green, skin. Sadly, they don’t hang on the tree into winter, so when they mature it is time for harvest and to make a delicious and fragrant crabapple jelly from them. This is easy, needing no pectin to set, and you can savor its pink color and delicious taste all winter, as you wait for the blooms to return next spring.
Grow a Brandywine Crabapple Tree as a beautiful specimen on a lawn, where its full glory can be shown off. Plant a pair on either side of a gate or entrance or create an avenue along a drive. Plant them in the corners of your property, and as background to large shrub beds. Along the south-facing side of a woodland it will add beauty and color, while still blending into the natural scene. Wherever you plant it, you will love having this glorious tree in your garden, both for its beauty and its usefulness in the kitchen.
Plant the Brandywine Crabapple Tree in full sun, anywhere from zone 4 to zone 8. Gardeners in zones 4 and 5 will find this tree especially useful, as many other spring-flowering trees do not grow well in those colder areas. There are reports of this tree also growing well in zone 9 – unlike most other crabapples – and it is certainly worth trying, so you too can enjoy its beauty. It grows well in almost any garden soil, preferring richer, moist soils, but with some drought tolerance once it is established. Very alkaline soils (pH over 7.5), and wet, flooded soils, are not so suitable. Unlike apple trees with large, edible fruit, crabapple trees require no fancy pruning, and they are best left to develop naturally. If you do need to prune, do this in winter or during dry summer weather, as spring pruning leaves fresh cuts that are susceptible to attack from the fire blight bacteria, which is a potential threat, although this tree has good resistance to that, and to powdery mildew. Other diseases are much less significant, and while insect pests can sometimes attack any crabapple tree, they are normally not serious problems.
History and Origins of Brandywine Crabapple Trees
The Brandywine Crabapple Tree was created by Bob Simpson, of Simpson Nursery in Vincennes, Indiana. Founded in 1851, the family nursery had been a pioneer apple orchard, before Bob turned it into a tree nursery, with crabapples as a specialty. He bred other well-known crabs, like ‘Indian Summer’, but Brandywine, officially called ‘Branzam’ was his greatest creation. He crossed two older varieties together and found this tree among the seedlings he grew from that cross. The varieties were an old French tree from 1928 called Malus x purpurea ‘Lemoinei’ and Malus ‘Klehm’s Improved’, another older variety. The tree was released in 1979, by Lake County Nursery, Madison, Ohio, under the trademark name of Brandywine™.
Our trees are produced by joining stem pieces of the original form to sturdy roots of seedling crabapples, and they are exactly like the original tree. Cheaper trees, often grown from seed, cannot possibly match the quality of these plants. Crabapple trees are always popular, and this beauty is in very high demand. Our supply will soon run out, so order now and enjoy the best there is.