Crab apple

Family: Rosaceae

Genus: Malus

Botanical Name: Malus Sylvestris

A deciduous specimen with alternating oval-shaped leaves that is able to reach ten meters high in the wild, the Malus Sylvestris is native to Europe and commonly known as a crab apple tree. With

over 50 species, it is well appreciated by Bonsai enthusiast because it can be shown during different seasons of the year.

In spring, the Malus blooms beautiful flowers of different colours (white, pink, or red) depending on the variety, and it loses its leaves in the fall, showing off a magnificent, naturally twisted trunk in a grey dotted bark. In this same season, it also produces graceful red fruit (apples) which add a bit of colour and an interesting feature.



The crab apple tree suits all styles with great movement, such as informal upright, slanting, semi-cascade, on the rock, multi-trunk, and forest.

Location and Position

The Malus requires great aeration to avoid mildew issues, and it will benefit from full sun in spring and semi-shade in hot summer. It is a hardy specimen and needs protection during frost periods.


The Malus Sylvestris appreciates moist soil, but be careful not to let the soil dry out completely, particularly while it is flowering and fruiting, and avoid waterlogging.


Stop feeding your tree after flowering, or it will not produce fruit. However, if you intend to achieve a vigorous growth, then feed it regularly until the end of fall.

Pruning and Pinching

Structural pruning is best carried out in the fall season while maintenance can be done in spring by pinching new growth back to two or three leaves.

Repotting and Soil

The Malus Sylvestris can be re-potted annually before budding occurs with a well-drained soil mix (clay, loam, chalk, and sand)


Wiring is best performed in autumn because you can easily see the branches’ structure, which makes this operation simpler.


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