En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - October 25, 2010

From: Mount Holly, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Planting, Transplants, Trees
Title: Transplanting crabapples in NJ
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I purchased a mature Red Baron crabapple in march of this year from a reputable nursery here in southern NJ. The tree was in the ground when I first viewed it, and since it was march and hadn't bloomed, I couldn't tell the true fullness of it. After planting it in my yard and taking care of it for the last seven months,I'm a bit disappointed in its appearance although I'm wondering if its too early in its transplant to judge.The tree obviously is still alive and leafed out on all the branches,however the lack of amount of leaves is what makes it look needy. It did bloom less than a month after planting it,but not as full as Ive seen in on-line photos,and it has the small fruit,but almost not noticeable because there there's not many. Is this the kind of tree I should be able to see right through the middle of? It is about 15 feet tall, 6 feet wide, and 2 or 3"caliper trunk. It is planted in a large mulch bed with good organic soil and the only amendment I made was to add a reasonable amount of "Worm Gold" worm castings to the root ball. Will this tree fill out/in at some point or is this a product of earlier years at the nursery? Its not really attractive to look at a series of 15 foot tall straight vertical branches that are pencil thin with few leaves.Thank you

ANSWER:

Even though your question is accompanied by plenty of detail, it is difficult to give you advice without seeing the plant or photos.  You may get more valuable advice by contacting your County Agricultural Extension Office.

That being said, you mention that the plant is "mature" and that it was "in the ground".  Luckily, it is quite young (it will be 15 to 25 feet tall and 10 to 20 feet wide when it is) and it sounds like it is actually doing quite well.  The root system of a tree and what is above the ground are in balance ... the top will not grow to be larger than the root system can support and the root system cannot grow without the food supplied by the photosynthesis done by the leaves.  When it is dug up to be transplanted a significant percentage of the root system is lost and there is no longer enough to support the top.  It is normal for the first few years to have foliage that is smaller and sparser than normal as well as fewer flowers and fruit.  Also, if the tree is drought or heat stressed in the first season it may drop the foliage or fruit it feels it cannot support.

You mention very tall, straight vertical branches.  These may be what is known as "water sprouts" which are common on all types of apple trees. They take away from the beauty of the tree's form and do not bear flowers or fruit.  This website has pruning information you may find helpful and this one has diagrams and a video.  You could also inquire at the nursery where you purchased it.

The only real advice we can give you is ... be patient.  It will take about five years for it to start spreading and taking on the form that make crabapples such popular trees.

 

More Trees Questions

Would like suggestions for a tree or bush to be given as a memorial gift for friends in Austin, TX.
April 26, 2011 - Hello, I would like to give a memorial gift of a tree and/or bush native to the Austin area to friends living there. Any suggestions? Local vendors would be appreciated also. Thanks very much!
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in non-native crape myrtle from Wesley Chapel, FL
June 12, 2012 - I just bought a 12 ft. crape myrtle and planted it, giving it plenty of water I think. After 3 days the leaves are wilting and flowers are falling off.
view the full question and answer

Dirt around bald cypress in Lakeland FL
October 03, 2009 - Dirt around trunk of cypress.. Our tree is a Bald Cypress. We dug a hole to install a jacuzzi and put the dirt/clay around the trunk of the cypress to level the area out. I also laid several flag s...
view the full question and answer

Trees blooming white in East Tennessee in April
April 07, 2010 - What kind of tree is blooming now, 4\6\10 in the mountains of east TN. They have white blooms?
view the full question and answer

Is it wise to cut suckers from live oak branches in April in Austin
April 07, 2010 - My live oak branches are filling with suckers and I would like to cut them now, April. Is that wise?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center