Firebird® Crabapple

Malus sargentii ‘Select A’ PP12,621

Description & Overview

A Johnson’s Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, Firebird® Crabapple originated from an open-pollinated seedling of Sargent crabapple. It is a compact version of its parent that grows more upright when young becoming spreading with age. Sweet smelling snow-white flowers shows more of a tendency towards annual production than Sargent crabapple. The fruiting qualities of Firebird® are superior to all other small-scale crabapples. Its tiny ruby-red crabapples provide color into late winter. An all-seasons plant!

Core Characteristics

Mature Height: 8 feet
Mature Spread: 12 feet
Growth Rate: Slow
Growth Form: Rounded, Spreading, single stem or multi-stem
Light Requirements: Full Sun
Site Requirements: Tolerant of many soils, prefers moist, well-drained sites
Flower: White, fragrant, single blooms
Bloom Period: April-May
Foliage: Dark Green
Fall Color: Insignificant, yellow to green
Fruit Notes: Persistent bright red crabapple

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Suggested Uses:

The small mature size of Firebird® Crabapple makes it an excellent choice where space is limited. Shrub-form trees are excellent choices as screens or specimens where lower branching is preferred. Grafted trees (single-stem) are useful when mixed with perennials and shrubs beneath. While the fruits are attractive, Firebird® Crabapple should not be sited next to patios or walkways where the spring fruit drop is undesirable.

It is a compact version of its parent that grows more upright when young becoming spreading with age

Wildlife Value:

The persistent fruits of Firebird® Crabapple do not soften in fall or winter and are not preferred by birds or other wildlife as a food source. Read more about Crabapples for Birds.

Maintenance Tips:

Firebird® Crabapple is slow-growing, meaning there is not much need to prune for shape. If you observe crossing branches, these can be removed with a sharp pruners during the dormant season.

If suckers start to form, remove them as they are observed during the growing season. A healthy mulch ring around the base of the tree will protect the trunk from damage and make mowing easier.

Left: Final resting spot in the landscape | Right: Field grown Firebird® crabapples at Johnson's Nursery


Firebird® Crabapple has excellent resistance to Apple Scab and Fire Blight, the two major diseases faced by ornamental crabapples. They are only problematic when the tree is sited incorrectly.

Animal browse may be problematic when young, so be sure to use protection during winter months to prevent girdling.

Leaf Lore:

Firebird® Crabapple was selected by Mike Yanny in the mid-1980’s from open pollinated Malus sargentii seedlings for its improved fruit production and profuse flowering. In spring, red-pink buds open to a dazzling show of fragrant white flowers across the entire canopy. The tree is a reliable flower and fruit producer, ensuring your planting space is consistently beautiful each year.

Companion Plants:

Firebird® Crabapple has different companions depending on its growth form. As a shrub border, use it in combination with other large stature plants like Renaissance Spirea or Common Ninebark. For single-stem trees, plant smaller shrubs like Fritsch Spirea, Gro-Low Sumac, or St. John’s Wort beneath the spreading canopy.