The Best Time to Transplant Crabapple Trees

Crabapple trees prefer a sunny location and well-drained soil.
Crabapple trees prefer a sunny location and well-drained soil. (Image: crabapple tree image by A74.FR Ben Fontaine from

People enjoy growing crabapple trees for their showy display of beautiful flowers and brightly colored fruit. Crabapples (Malus spp.) prefer a sunny location. Although crabapple trees tolerate a wide variety of soil types, they need well-drained soil.

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Tree heights vary from 8 to 40 feet. Shapes include “weeping (pendulous), rounded, spreading (horizontal), upright (columnar), vase-shaped, and pyramidal,” according to Ohio State University Extension's website. People sometimes use crabapple trees as container plants trained as bonsai plants, according to the University of Florida website. Frequent uses for crabapple trees include as landscaping around homes, public and commercial buildings, parks, schools, streets and highways.


Transplanting any tree puts stress on it. Fortunately, crabapple trees have a medium-high tolerance for transplanting, according to North Dakota State University's website. However, avoid storing the crabapple tree dormant for extended periods before transplanting it because that often results in the tree not readily budding.


Most crabapples start out as field-planted trees at a nursery. You transplant a tree every time you purchase and plant one. However, a bare-root tree purchased from a nursery has about 75 percent of its root system intact, versus only about 25 percent for an existing landscape tree dug up to transplant. The best time to transplant any crabapple tree is in early spring after the ground thaws and before the crabapple buds, according to North Dakota State University.


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