Malus 'Cardinal'

Common Name: crabapple 
Type: Tree
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Air Pollution


Best grown in medium moisture, well-drained, acidic loams in full sun. Adapts to a wide range of soils. Established trees have some drought tolerance. Although some flowers may be lost, it is best to prune this tree as needed in late winter. Spring pruning should be avoided as it produces fresh, open cuts where fireblight bacterium can enter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Malus is a genus of about 35 species of deciduous trees and shrubs from Europe, Asia and North America.

Genus name from Latin is an ancient name for apple.

‘Cardinal’ is a densely-branched, broad-spreading crabapple tree that typically matures to 15’ tall and to 25’ wide. It is noted for its spreading shape, bright red flowers, purple-tinged foliage, small glossy red fruit and excellent disease resistance. Narrow-ovate leaves (to 3” long) emerge purplish-red in spring and mature to dark green tinged with reddish-purple. Purple buds open in spring to red flowers (1.5” diameter). Flowers are followed by small, deep red crabapples (1/2” diameter) that mature in fall and persist into winter. Birds are attracted to the fruit. Parents of this cultivar are Malus ‘Strawberry Parfait’ and Malus ‘Crimson Cloud’. Although this plant appears to be a hybrid, it is sometime sold as Malus hupehensis ‘Cardinal’. U.S. Plant Patent PP7,147 isued February 13, 1990.


The main diseases of crabapple are scab, fire blight, rusts, leaf spot and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests are of lesser concern and include tent caterpillars, aphids, Japanese beetles, borers and scale. Spider mites may occur.

Generally,‘Cardinal’ has excellent disease resistance to the main diseases of crabapples.ude tent caterpillars, aphids, Japanese beetles, borers, spider mites and scale.


Plant as a specimen/accent or in small groups. General landscape use.