Among the most prized of ornamental trees, flowering crabapples have long been a staple of landscape gardening. They are best known for their spectacular display of magnificent blooms in spring and colorful fall fruit. Their summer foliage, small stature and various tree shapes add to their charm and give them year-round interest.

Spectacular on their own, they can hold center stage across the seasons by themselves. However, their magnificence can be enhanced by companion plants that will frame and accent their beauty.

Choose the right companion plants and extend the season of interest of your garden

Here is the list of favorite companion plants for your flowering crabapples.

Conifers

Among nature’s most beautiful and interesting trees, conifers deserve a spot in most gardens. Adding year-round beauty and structure to your landscape, these shapely and statuesque evergreens include Spruces (Picea), Firs (Abies), Cedars (Cedrus), False Cypresses (Chamaecyparis), and many others. The contrast of pink or white flowering crabapples against a background of blue conifers, such as blue spruces, is particularly outstanding.

Lilacs
Hardy and vigorous, early flowering lilacs (Syringa x hyacinthiflora) are terrific shrubs that reward us with an abundance of exquisitely scented flowers in mid spring, about 7-10 days earlier than common lilacs. But this is not their only charm. Their foliage often colors up to shades of red, purple and gold in fall, extending their season of interest. Easy to grow, Hyacinth Lilacs are low-maintenance shrubs that will grow and flower profusely without much attention.

Flowering Dogwoods
Flowering dogwoods (Cornus) are excellent landscape choices for all four seasons and wonderful companions for crabapples. Awakening in spring with their delicate bracts, their foliage turns glorious shades of gold, red or purple in fall and their brilliant red berries attract winter songbirds for the pleasure of all.

Magnolias
Magnolias are outstanding early flowering trees of great beauty and help create glorious combinations with crabapples. Pale yellow magnolias enhance the beauty of pure white or pale pink flowering crabapples, while pink and purple magnolias look stunning with white flowering crabapples.

Hostas
The large, showy leaves of Hostas complement nicely the blooms and fruits of the crabapples. Large-leaved blue hostas will lend charm to your blooming crabapples. Edge their bed with smaller golden-leaved hostas to create an excellent background for the cascades of red fruit produced by the trees in the fall. There is an amazing number of hostas available in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors and create striking combinations!

Hemerocallis
Hemerocallis (Daylilies) are colorful, spreading perennials that grow either in sunlight or under the dappled shade cast by the crabapple trees. Often called the perfect perennial because of their numerous qualities: showy flowers, wide array of vibrant colors, drought tolerance, ability to grow in most areas and low care requirements, they are remarkable and stunning additions to the garden where they bloom vigorously for weeks and weeks. They parade their attractive blossoms in summer under the green canopy of the crabapples.

Peonies
Herbaceous peonies and tree peonies (Paeonia) are wonderful companions to crabapples with their brilliant colors. They are compatible in color, fragrance and form, and make each other look better. Plant peonies along a garden walk and savor the beauty and pervasive perfume they lavish on those who passes-by.

Groundcovers
Underplant your crabapples with low-growing plants such as Periwinkle (Vinca minor), Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus), and Liriope. Small Violas, Creeping Veronica, Creeping Phlox can also create very fine color combinations.

Spring bulbs
A number of perennial bulbs do well under trees, such as Snowdrops (Galanthus), Crocuses (Crocus), Grape Hyacinths (Muscari), Winter Aconites (Eranthis), Siberian Squills (Scilla siberica), Snowflakes (Leucojum), Bluebells (Hyacinthoides) and early blooming Daffodils (Narcissus). They all look stunning, forming a carpet of flowers dancing in the dappled light under crabapple trees. 

Flowering Crabapples Cultural Requirements

There is a wide range of companion plants that will bring out the best qualities of your crabapples and share their space with a serene balance. Make sure you select any ornamental grasses, perennials, shrubs or trees that have the same growing requirements as your crabapple tree.

  • Crabapples tolerate a range of conditions but thrive, exuberate, and radiate beauty when they are grown in full sun (at least 6 hours) in deep rich soils that are well-drained. Use our Plant Finder to find the perfect companion plants for your Crabapple trees.
  • Make sure your site drains well. Crabapples do not like waterlogged or overly dry soils.