I planted two Prairiefire Crabapple trees on my front lawn about ten years ago. Each spring, they flower beautifully together, then fruit, then leaves.

This year one of them seemed to lag behind. It only bloomed very sparsely, with only a few flowers, and the same with the crabapples. It looks, for lack of a better word, sick.

I had a landscaper last year that took it upon himself to prune the trees while I was out. I was shocked to see how much he removed. Could this have something to do with it? I cannot see anything else wrong with the tree. They both look the same otherwise. This tree was planted for my aunt that passed away, so I really don't want to lose it. Any suggestions?

  • 3
    Please send pictures! Of the trees and their environment. Get close ups of pruning cuttings and then step back to get overall view. What is your fertilization schedule? Is one tree closer to the lawn and thus gets lawn fertilizer? Lawn fertilizer promotes vegetative growth. Versus reproductive growth, flowers. Pruning is a treat from which Crabapples truly benefit. But how much was taken off...1/2? 1/3? Less, more? What time of year was this done? Take pic of their environment...are they in a bed or lawn...?
    – stormy
    Jun 28, 2015 at 23:56
  • At least 1/3 was taken off, and it was during the summer. They are on my front lawn, maybe 30 feet apart, with mulch and other plants at its base. Haven't been fertilized. I can send pics tomorrow, if you can tell me how?! Thanks for your help!
    – Celeste
    Jun 29, 2015 at 0:33
  • look for damage at the base of the trunk from mice or whipper snippers
    – kevinskio
    Jun 29, 2015 at 10:58
  • Problem with trees in a lawn is that they have to deal with lawn fertilizers. Lawn fertilizers are primarily Nitrogen for vegetative growth. Plays havoc with blooming and reproductive growth. Please find a way to take pictures and send. Please include the base of the tree, the overall picture of your tree and close ups of branches/leaves. Gotta see to be able to responsibly answer your question...
    – stormy
    Jun 29, 2015 at 21:09

1 Answer 1


A photograph or two of the affected tree might be useful, though if you can't see anything obvious, maybe not. Crabapples are best pruned in late winter or early spring, before the leaves and flowers arrive. Pruning later than that increases the risk of pathogenic infection (usually fungal) getting in to the sap stream of the tree, and it may be this is what's happened to yours, as the landscaper pruned in summer. If you've had them both 10 years, then I doubt your fertilization routine, or lack of it, has contributed, but it might be worth fertilizing the one that's suffering now, and adding a mulch of humus rich material (well rotted animal manure, bark chips, that sort of thing) if the mulch you've currently got is inorganic (pebbles, gravel). Any mulch you apply should not be in contact with the trunk of the tree though, just as close as you can get it. If the area is very dry, it might help to water well once you've used the fertilizer and before you put the mulch down. The reason for this is, if its got an infection, but isn't showing anything obvious other than growing poorly, then the only thing you can do is to nurse it with feeding and watering to give it more energy to fight back and try to defeat the infection. It might not work, but it gives it the best chance.

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