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Royalty Crabapple (Malus x 'Royalty') is deserving of its regal name. Although it doesn't bear large snacking apples, this tree puts on such a show that you'll want to grow it just for its flowers and foliage! Crabapple trees are renowned for their colorful spring floral displays, but Royalty Crabapple adds an encore to its springtime flowers with its richly purple leaves. A Regal Landscape Specimen Royalty Crabapple is featured in numerous botanical gardens and arboreta, notably in the prestigious crabapple collection at the Beijing Botanic Gardens. The breeding and selection of superior crabapple trees is a science that's been elevated to an art form because of characteristics that include: • Flowers. Royalty Crabapple's flowers herald the arrival of spring. They appear in clusters along its branches in shades of rich purplish-red, which is a much deeper color than the flowers of other crabapple trees that have lighter pinkish shades. • Foliage. Some trees that have purple leaves fade to green over the growing season, but Royalty Crabapple retains a rich purple color all season long, until they fall in autumn. The undersides of the leaves are green, but the purple overlay dominates its overall look. • Form. Different types of crabapple trees have different shapes. Royalty Crabapple is perfectly height-width proportionate, which gives it a balanced rounded shape. An Alluring Tree with Stamina Regal leaders are often stubborn and unwavering, and Royalty Crabapple is no exception in the plant world. But it's exactly this tenacious quality of being tough and adaptable under adverse circumstances that you want in a landscape tree. When horticulturists and plant researchers are asked to recommend a small low-maintenance tree that also provides multi-season interest because of its flowers, foliage, and form, the answer typically includes crabapple trees. Royalty Crabapple is a rugged tree that's resilient in many climates, soil types, and environmental conditions. Choose a Prominent Spot to Show it Off When you're planning a colorful landscape design, think outside the box of only planting annual or perennial flowers to provide pops of color. Flowering trees, such as Royalty Crabapple, offer color on a larger scale than smaller ground-hugging plants. And when you find a tree that gives you flower color and foliage color, you've doubled the return on your investment. Add to that the vivid red fruits of Royalty Crabapple, and the return on your investment has now tripled. Place this tree in a prominent location as a focal point, where it's noticed by your guests as well as passers-by. And if you really want to wow the neighbors, group clusters of three Royalty Crabapples together or plant a row of them down your property line. As a deciduous tree, the leaves will fall in autumn. But even after they fall, the trees will create a striking winter silhouette in your yard or garden with its branches, and the bare branches continue to hang onto their mini-sized fruits, which feed your backyard song birds! A Temperature-Tolerant and Size-Suitable Tree Royalty Crabapple is a remarkably cold-tolerant tree. It's a perennial in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 8, which means it's also heat-tolerant in the warmer regions of this range. If you have a small yard, you can make the most of its diminutive size by growing Royalty Crabapple. This delightfully compact tree packs a big punch in a small package. Its typical height reaches only 12 to 15 feet, with an equal width. Don't worry about power lines overhead, because Royalty Crabapple is classified as a utility-friendly tree, which means that its mature height will not interfere with overhead cables. Royalty Crabapple Cross Pollinate Perfectly with Apple Trees! For a plant to produce fruit, its flowers must be fertilized. And in the world of growing apples, you may know that an apple tree typically needs an apple tree of another variety planted nearby so that pollinators, such as butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees, can cross-pollinate the flowers on each tree. Successful cross-pollination results in fertilized flowers, which then results in fruit formation. But Royalty Crabapple doesn't need to "borrow pollen" from another tree in order to produce fruits because crabapple trees are considered "self-fertile." If, however, you have another apple tree (or you're considering the purchase of an apple tree), which does need another apple variety to ensure cross-pollination, Royalty Crabapple is the perfect choice. Crabapple trees are able to cross-pollinate all other apple trees! Cherry-Sized Apples Perfect for Jelly! When you see "apple" in crabapple's full name, you may be unfamiliar of how the differences in these two fruits stack up against each other. A crabapple is actually an apple, but the different name classification has to do with the size of the fruits. By definition, crabapples are less than 2 inches at maturity. This is far smaller than the apples you're familiar with, but that's because the large, juicy apples you buy at the supermarket are all bred for their bigger size and sweeter flavor. You may be surprised to find out that these larger cultivated apples were initially bred from wild apples '– tiny crabapples! These cherry-sized fruits '– only one-half to three-quarters of an inch in diameter '– may remind you of berries, but they're in fact not berries. They are botanically classified the same as their larger cultivated apple cousins '– as pome fruits. When you pick an apple from your Royalty Crabapple tree to sample, your mouth may pucker because of its tartness. The taste of these wild apples is vividly described in one of Henry David Thoreau's essays ("Wild Apples") as "sour enough to set a squirrel's teeth on edge and make a jay scream." But the secret held within these sour fruits is that they make the best apple jelly! Bird-Feeding and Bird-Watching Even if you don't make jelly from your Royalty Crabapple fruits, you'll be creating a wildlife habitat with each tree you plant. Birds nest in the tree's branches, the flowers attract pollinators, and the fruits are irresistible to lots of birds! Robins, cedar waxwings, grosbeaks, and other songbirds relish the tart fruits. And unlike other types of crabapple trees that drop their fruit with the onset of cold weather, Royalty Crabapple holds onto its fruit throughout winter to feed the birds and provide rich-red dots of color to its otherwise bare branches. The tiny fruits are hard, so it may take a few freezes to soften them before the birds readily eat them. This is definitely a tree for bird-watching, so plant it in clear sight of a window and settle into your favorite chair for optimal viewing! Planting and Growing Tips As a low-maintenance tree, Royalty Crabapple has few needs. It does like a sunny spot to perform its best, and it prefers well-drained soil that has a pH between 5.0 and 7.5. Pruning is a snap, so you won't have to be a pruning expert to keep it neat and tidy because its natural growth keeps a beautifully rounded shape. Plus, Royalty Crabapple is not a tree that needs pruning before it will bear fruit. If you see branches that cross, especially if they're rubbing against each other, prune those away. Or if you see broken, dying, or dead branches, remove those, too. You may notice stems sprouting around the base of your tree, which are called suckers. They should be trimmed back to the ground. Keep newly planted trees well-watered, but once they begin growing, established trees are drought-tolerant. Royalty Crabapple trees are resistant to some common diseases that plague other apple and crabapple varieties, such as blight, cedar-apple rust, and mildew. It can be susceptible to scab, a fungal disease, but if you space trees so there is good air circulation around them and avoid overhead irrigation, they'll stay healthier.
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