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Malus Robusta Red Sentinel - Ornamental Crab Apple Tree
If you are wondering which variety of ornamental crab apple tree is right for you, Malus Red Sentinel has much to commend it. As a fruiting tree, Red Sentinel is an excellent choice, bearing sizable clusters of scarlet red fruits that hang on the branches like cherries. As a flowering tree, it produces an abundance of marvellously scented, white spring blossom. Over time, it will reach a maximum height of about 20 feet. While there are many varieties of ornamental crab apple trees to choose from, if your criteria include abundant blooms, red fruits and a tree that won’t get overly big, then you simply can’t go wrong with Malus Red Sentinel, a small crab apple tree with a very big impact.
To give this crab apple its full name, Malus x Robusta Red Sentinel is a hybrid cross of Malus Baccata (the Siberian Crab Apple Tree) and Malus Prunifolia (plum or pear-leafed crab apple, originally from China). Developed in the UK in the 1950s, Malus Red Sentinel is a recipient of the RHS Award of Garden Merit and counts among the best performing varieties of Crab Apple Tree.
Features of the Malus Red Sentinel:
Its small white flowers emerge in profusion in spring usually in April from deep pink buds and contrast beautifully with the light green foliage.
The scarlet red fruits, produced in abundance, are highly decorative and make an eye-catching display. The fruit remains on the boughs well into the winter and long after the leaves have dropped.
Packed with natural pectin, Red Sentinel fruits make excellent tangy apple jelly jam and other culinary delights.
Red Sentinel is disease resistant and will also pollinate other apple trees.
It is pollution tolerant making it a good urban tree where space comes at a premium.
It is fully UK hardy.
The foliage provides additional colour in autumn turning a golden yellow, beautifully offsetting the glossy red fruit.
Red Sentinel is very popular with wildlife. The blossom attracts pollinators in spring and the apples, should you decide to leave them on the boughs, provide winter food for the birds, once they have been softened by the winter frosts.
As with most crab apple trees, Red Sentinel branches have a spreading (as opposed to dense) growth habit. The trunks can develop an attractive gnarled appearance. Malus Red Sentinel generally won’t exceed 7 metres in height and has a more upright growth habit than other crab apple varieties.
Crap apple trees are deciduous and don’t have a particularly thick or dense canopy of branches so, they are good candidates for under-planting. If you have the space, plant a cluster of these ornamental trees en masse to create a bi-annual garden spectacle in spring and autumn. Alternatively, grow in the middle of the lawn as an ornamental centre piece and underplant with bulbs. Their roots are deep rather than shallow so should not interfere with the lawn.
It will grow in any aspect – whether full sun or partial shade. However, it will perform best in a full sun position. It will grow in most soils as long as it is well drained.
This is a low maintenance, easy to grow tree. A light prune in winter should suffice to remove any dead or untidy wood. If you wish to keep them more compact, you can achieve this by pruning.