Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Plant of the Week: Southern Crab apple or narrow leaf crab apple (Malus angustifolia)

When considered flowering crab apple trees, most homeowners and horticulturalists recommend one of the numerous cultivars that show resistance to disease and other pests in addition to bearing profuse clusters of flowers.  If you are considering a flowering crab, and do not have cedars close by, then you might consider the southern crab apple.  One of the finest things about this species is the fragrance in the spring that almost has a strong violet smell.  It is also incredibly showy, although not as much as the various cultivars on the market.  People have a tendency to not like the wild crab apple trees because they are susceptible to cedar apple rust, honey fungus, apple scab, fire blight, insect borers, scale, aphids, canker, and tent caterpillars.  Some of these can be sprayed for but I think if you keep the tree where it gets good wind movement through the branches and leaves (by trimming) and keeping it away from other horticultural fruit trees and cedar, you can be quite successful in getting this attractive species to thrive.  It is a small growing tree, up to 30’ maximum height with a short trunk to a foot to 2 feet tall. Mature trees have beautiful bark patterns and color.  The leaves are more oval, not lance-shaped and finely toothed.  It should be situated in the full sun or it can get early morning shade but will handle disease issues better in full sun.  It should have very good drainage and soil fertility is usually not an issue.  No clay soils.  One way to reduce disease problems is to rake the leaves in the fall and burn them.  The great thing for wildlife is that this species produces a small fruit that is relished by birds, more so than the large fruits produced on many of the cultivars.  It can be a slow growing species but it is worth the effort.

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