Crab Apple Bonsai Care Guide

There are so many varieties of Crab Apple Bonsai Trees and they’re truly stunning. Although beautiful, they’re definitely not the most simple tree to grow as a bonsai, hence why many beginners tend to stay away. In this article, I have put together a very simple and to the point guide telling you everything you need to know to care for a Crab Apple Bonsai!


This species is commonly known for it’s stunning flowers and sometimes even producing fruit in the growing season. With various pruning techniques, amazing growth an be encouraged to produce to most amazing flowering in the next summer months. The flowers produced by the Crab Apple bonsai can range from the whitest whites to a beautiful light pink, it can really make a beautiful addition to any bonsai collection if you are willing to put in the extra effort!

1. Watering Your Crab Apple Bonsai

This species requires a lot of attention when it comes to watering – needing very consistent watering in the summer months. You’ll need to keep a close check when fruit is starting to form as this is when the tree is going to need the most amount of water. Being in tune with your trees watering needs is one of the most important parts of keeping a bonsai thriving, closely followed by knowing how to water properly.


To water your Crab Apple bonsai, push your finger an inch or so into the soil and check for moisture. If it’s moist but not wet, it’s time to water the tree. Pour water onto the soil, rain water is best but tap water will still get good results – until the water is running out of the bottom of the pot. Once this is happening, let the bonsai sit for 5 minutes, then repeat the watering cycle once more. This process may seem long-winded but it’s going to allow water to reach all of the roots and evenly penetrate the soil. In the growing season, regularly spray the flowers with rain water if possible. During winter, ensure that the soil isn’t waterlogged at all – it should be damp, not too wet.


It’s important to note that the Crab Apple tree will need to be grown in a larger pot than the majority of bonsai, so more soil needs to contain water and food for the tree. Especially in the summer months it’s extremely important to keep on top of watering as under-watering isn’t going to be tolerated well by the tree. The larger pot could increase the possibility of root rot killing the bonsai, so ensure that water is freely leaving via the drainage holes after watering. If a lack of water is leaving the pot after watering, it’s time to think about repotting the bonsai.

2. Growing Conditions & Sunlight

The crab apple bonsai has many complex requirements when it comes to maintenance such as feeding but absolutely none when it comes to living environment! This species LOVES the sunlight, as much of it as it can get, full sun. This isn’t entirely possible in all countries, such as the U.K with our awful weather, but it’s the way to get the best results for the tree. Typically a crab apple bonsai grown in partial or full shade with perform much worse in all aspects than those trees grown in full sun, so ensure you position it outdoors in a spot where the most sunlight is likely.


Although they absolutely love the sunlight, oddly, they are very good at tolerating cold snaps and longer freezing periods without any real side-effects. Even during cold snaps I would advise leaving the bonsai outside as they are very resilient. In-fact, throughout any weather during the year, this species is going to be a lot happier outdoors than indoors, so don’t keep it indoors for longer than a day or so.

3. Pruning Your Crab Apple Bonsai

After a growing season, you can prune the shoots and branches right back if you wish, to stubs. This should take place after the full flowering of the crab apple tree, which can vary in time but will usually come around the end weeks of spring every year. For optimum growth and flowering, you’re going to want to let the new shoots and flowers grow out until the end of summer, before pruning them back to having just two flowering buds per shoot.

4. Repotting

This bonsai tree needs repotting very regularly, about once every one or two years seems to be the average. The best time of year to repot a crab apple bonsai tree is during the autumn but it can still be done during winter if you feel it’s absolutely needed. As mentioned in the watering section, this species requires a much deeper pot than many of your popular bonsai trees so ensure you don’t try to pot it in a very shallow dish as this isn’t going to be enough for the root system.

In terms of soil, you can use a pretty standard mix, like this bonsai soil on Amazon. If you aren’t interested in using the soil linked, make sure that the soil you mix is organic rather than inorganic as this will be crucial to this species thriving. When undertaking a repot for the crab apple, don’t go too crazy with pruning off a huge amount of root mass, about a quarter of the total is preferred to be on the safer side.

5. Fertilizing

Unlike many hardy bonsai, this species has a pretty complex feeding routine which many owners neglect completely. Firstly, as flowering begins in the spring months, you’ll need to give a balanced feed, such as this balance feed I bought from Amazon. In the hottest months of summer, you’ll want to feed with a lower nitrogen feed if possible, reducing it to no nitrogen feed during autumn. Although most owners seem to again neglect this step, for optimum results you’ll need to feed about half of the usual strength, but twice as often as you usually would do.

Quick Tips For Caring For A Crab Apple Bonsai

  • Watering – Keep this species well watered, especially during the growing season. For optimum results, spray a fine mist on the flowers daily during the summer.
  • Growing Conditions – Sunlight and a lot more sunlight! The crab apple can be grown outdoors all year round, positioned with the most sunlight it can get.
  • Pruning – After a growing season, prune back non flowering shoots and branches back.
  • Repotting – Repot this tree every one or two years, into a deeper bonsai pot than usual. Use an organic bonsai soil mix, like this soil from Amazon.
  • Fertilizing – During spring, give this species a balanced feed, a lower nitrogen feed in summer and little to no nitrogen feed in autumn.


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