Summer Wonder Crab AppleMalus hybrid ‘Summer Wonder’ (PP #17,748)
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Malus hybrid ‘Summer Wonder’ (PP #17,748)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Summer Wonder Crab Apple is a unique flowering tree with purple leaves that hold their color all summer long, even in hot areas. This is the only crab apple to offer this, but that is only the beginning. In spring this tree is smothered in blossoms of a rich, pink-purple color. In fall and well into winter, it is hung with bunches of deep-purple crab apples, that can be turned into delicious jelly. It forms a small, rounded tree around 20 feet tall, and almost as wide, and since it grows 2 feet a year, it will take just a few short years to mature in your garden. This tree is hardy from zone 4 to zone 8, and in colder areas it is the best choice for spring flowering of any tree.
The Summer Wonder Crab Apple grows readily and vigorously in most garden soils, and once established it is resistant to normal periods of summer drought. It has remarkable resistance to all the major apple diseases, including apple scab, which causes yellowing and falling of leaves in summer, powdery mildew, which coats the fruit and leaves in unsightly white powder, and the deadly fireblight disease, which kills trees by killing branches in a matter of weeks. You can avoid all these problems by choosing to plant a resistant tree like the Summer Wonder Crab Apple.
Crab apple trees are immensely popular, especially in colder areas, for both their beautiful spring flowers, and for the attractive clusters of small apples that decorate them all fall and into winter. The only problem is that in between spring and fall they are basically a green tree – attractive enough, but not attention grabbing. Some do have attractive colored foliage when it first emerges, but over summer, when it would count the most, they fade to a plain dark green. At least, that was the situation with crab apple trees, especially in warm zones, until the discovery of the Summer Wonder Crab Apple.
Today there is no need to look at a plain green crab apple tree in your garden all summer, because the Summer Wonder Crab Apple is the first and only variety developed to have colored leaves that hold their color all summer long. The leaves are a rich purple color that doesn’t fade or turn green. The new shoots produce leaves that are stunning tones of warm purple, and that stay a rich purple all summer and into fall. Some other crab apples with red or purple spring leaves do hold some color in cooler zones, but none stay purple in zones 7 and 8 the way the Summer Wonder Crab Apple does. Since it is also highly-resistant to foliage diseases, those purple leaves will stay looking good all season.
The Summer Wonder Crab Apple grows two feet a year into an upright tree with spreading branches, ultimately becoming between 15 and 25 feet tall, depending on local conditions of climate, soil, and sunlight. Its rounded crown will be a similar distance across. It has a strong trunk, dividing into multiple branches that create a broad crown, and cast shade onto the ground below. The bark on young stem is deep brown with purple tints, and the older bark on the trunk and main branches is grey-brown, splitting and dividing into rugged strips and plates, giving the tree a mature and natural appearance. Cut into a stem and you will see that even the tissues inside are purple.
The flowers of the Summer Wonder Crab Apple develop in clusters of 4 to 6 on the stems, and open in spring when the warmer days arrive. As the buds swell they become red-purple in color, and open to show beautiful flowers with pink-purple petals. Each flower is about one inch across, and when the flowers are gone tiny apples develop, eventually becoming deep-purple fruits a bit more than ½ an inch across. These become especially conspicuous and beautiful after the leaves drop in fall, and they hang on the tree into winter, until eventually they become cold-weather food for birds. That is, unless you harvest them and make delicious crab apple jelly, which will be a deep pink-purple color, filled with the fragrance of apples. When raw the fruits are sour, but when cooked and sweetened the flavor is wonderful.
Plant your Summer Wonder Crab Apple in full sun to light shade, from zone 4 to zone 8. In warm zones your tree will flower in April, and in cooler areas blooming happens in May. This tree is easily grown, and the average growth is about 2 feet a year, so it soon develops into a handsome specimen. A big plus with this tree is its resistance to all the major diseases of apple trees, from apple scab and powdery mildew to fireblight. This means that your tree will remain healthy, even if you live in an area where these diseases are common.
The Summer Wonder Flowering Crab Apple has an interesting history. It was derived from a very old Russian apple variety called ‘Antonovka’. This is a green, sour apple used for cooking, and once widely grown in Russia and Poland. It is extremely winter hardy, and in the United States it is often used for the roots of grafted apple trees, to make them better able to survive freezing ground and low soil temperatures.
These trees are grown from seed in nurseries across the country, and in 1998, in a nursery in Baileyton, Alabama, Kenneth Gill noticed an odd-looking seedling. He was attracted by its striking purple leaves, and once he grew it to flowering size he discovered its beautiful pink-purple flowers and purple fruit too. He named this tree ‘Summer Wonder’, patented it in 2006, and this is the plant we are selling today. It is probably the result of a chance cross between Antonovka and another, unknown apple growing nearby, in the place which produced the seed Kenneth Gill grew for rootstocks.
Our trees are grown by specialists under license, who take pieces of the tree and attach it to hardy roots, creating a grafted tree. This unique tree is only today becoming recognized for its ability to bring color into your garden all summer, and we know that keen gardeners will quickly take our limited stock. So order now, and plant the first crab apple tree that is truly a four-season tree, because we will soon have no more of these trees left.