In my very tight downtown Toronto garden, one of my 2 Siberian apples is just getting sicker and sicker. It’s size and form are perfect but I am nervous about putting another of the same species in the same place. Or I could put something else there. Would a Redbud, or Cherry or Japanese Snowbell be amenable to heavy and strict pruning to keep it within very distinct perimeters? A lilac? Italian Poplar = perhaps too big in the end.
I believe you are talking about Malus baccata, the Siberian crabapple.
It is not clear from your question what’s happening with the tree (what are the symptoms?), when this started, or what – if anything — has changed in the garden (e.g., other trees may be blocking sunlight). When you mention keeping a new plant “within …distinct perimeters”, are you telling us that the garden area is small and a tree will have little room to grow, or that the garden is filled with other plants, so fitting a new plant in will be “tight”? The more information you can provide, the more helpful we can be.
Before giving up on your tree, you may want to speak with someone at your local nursery or consult an arborist. You can find an arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). or through Landscape Ontario .
A first step is to determine what is wrong with the tree, and if this can be treated. If the tree cannot be treated, or if you don’t wish to treat it, but instead want to remove it, another issue to consider is to determine whether whatever is making your tree sick will affect the second tree. As well, you need to know if this disease/pest could afflict a new Siberian crabapple, should you decide to plant another one. Finally, when the tree is removed, this must be done properly to avoid leaving material behind that could affect the health of other plants in the garden.
Consulting an arborist is the best option. Before doing so, you may want to review PennState Extension’s Crabapple diseases . This article will give you a good basic understanding of what can afflict your tree.
As for replacement plants, we do not know enough about your garden to recommend specific plants (e.g., garden size, light conditions, soil) – and also don’t know what you are seeking. You mention several alternatives, but what do you prefer? The following resources may help you select a new plant:
- Ornamental Shrubs for Various Light Conditions: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide
- Blooming Deciduous Trees & Shrubs: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide
All the best with your garden! Please write to tell us what was wrong with the tree(s) and what you did to address the problem.