Adams Crabapple Trees: Origin, Lifespan, Growth Rate And Other Characteristics

Crabapple trees are valued for their spectacular spring blooms, tree form, ornamental fruit and colorful autumn foliage. The Malus genus to which crabapple trees belong originates from Europe, Asia, and North America, and there are about 35 species within this genus.

The Adams Crabapple tree (Malus ‘Adams’) is a variety of crabapple tree that was developed through selective breeding. It is a rounded tree that grows to a height of about 20 feet. It usually has pink or rose-colored flowers that bloom in abundance in spring, usually in April. The tree also produces small, glossy red fruit that remains on the tree throughout the winter. It is a good, strong tree with superior disease resistance and is cold hardy. It is particularly a good tree for growing in small yards in USDA zones 4 through 8.

Characteristics of Adams Crabapple Trees

  • It is a broad-rounded, upright deciduous tree.
  • Grows to a height of 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters) and a spread of 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters).
  • Foliage is green in spring and summer, changing to orange-red in fall.
  • It usually has a moderate growth rate, reaching a mature size within 10 to 20 years. The annual growth of about 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) under optimal conditions.
  • Feature Showy pink or rose-colored flowers bloom in abundance in spring, usually in April.
  • Flowers are followed by small, glossy, red crabapples (1/2″ to 3/4″ diameter). Fruit remains on the tree throughout the winter, attracting birds and small mammals.
  • Fruit is persistent and doesn’t drop in the fall.
  • Cold hardy, suitable for growing in USDA zones 4 through 8.
  • Can be planted as a single specimen or in small groups for a lovely spring display of flowers.
  • Highly resistant to fire blight and tolerant of air pollution. It is a good urban street tree.
  • Prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soils but can tolerate a wide range of soil types.
  • Can be grown from seeds or softwood cuttings but may not retain the parent tree’s characteristics
  • Excellent resistance to scab and rust, good resistance to powdery mildew, and good to excellent resistance to fire blight.
  • Minimal pruning required in late winter to remove dead, diseased, or overcrowded branches.

Growing Adams Crabapple Tree in the Landscape


  • Timing: Early spring or fall is ideal, allowing the tree to establish its roots before extreme temperatures.
  • Location: Choose a spot with full sun for at least 6 hours a day. It can tolerate some light shade but may produce fewer flowers.
  • Soil: The Adams crabapple is adaptable but thrives in well-drained, moderately fertile soil with slight acidity (pH 6.0-7.0). Amend clay soil with sand or compost for better drainage.
  • Planting Process: Dig a hole 2-3 times wider than the root ball and slightly deeper. Carefully loosen the root ball and position the tree so the root flare (base of the trunk) sits slightly above the surrounding soil level. Backfill the hole with soil, tamping gently to remove air pockets. Water thoroughly to settle the soil.


  • Young Trees: Water regularly, especially during the first year and during hot, dry periods. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy.
  • Established Trees: Once established (usually after 2-3 years), Adams crabapples are drought tolerant and require infrequent watering. However, during extended dry spells, a deep watering every week or two might be beneficial. Watch for signs of thirst like wilting leaves or dry soil.


  • Young Trees: In early spring, fertilize young trees with a balanced fertilizer according to package directions. This helps establish strong roots and encourage healthy growth.
  • Established Trees: Mature Adams crabapple trees may not require additional fertilization, especially if the soil is already fertile. Signs of nutrient deficiency include pale leaves or stunted growth. In such cases, a light application of fertilizer in early spring might be helpful.


  • Timing: Prune your Adams crabapple tree in late winter while it’s dormant. This minimizes the risk of disease and allows you to see the branch structure clearly.
  • Purpose: The main focus of pruning is to remove dead, diseased, or overcrowded branches. This improves air circulation within the canopy, promotes healthy growth, and helps maintain the desired shape.

Additional Care

  • Mulching: Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the tree. Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil, suppresses weeds, and regulates soil temperature. Renew the mulch layer every few years as it decomposes.
  • Fall Leaves: You can leave fallen leaves under the tree to decompose naturally. This provides nutrients for the soil and helps create a habitat for beneficial insects.