Flowering Quince

Updated: Aug 3

Chaenomeles is a genus of three species of deciduous spiny shrubs, in the family Rosaceae. They are native to Southeast Asia. These plants are related to the quince (Cydonia oblonga) and the Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis), differing in the serrated leaves that lack fuzz, and in the flowers, borne in clusters, having deciduous sepals and styles that are connate at the base.



The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, and have a serrated margin. The flowers are 3–4.5 cm diameter, with five petals, and are usually bright orange-red, but can be white or pink; flowering is in late winter or early spring. The fruit is a pome with five carpels; it ripens in late autumn.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

6 - 10 feet


Width-Circumference (Avg)

6 - 10 feet


Approximate pH

3.7 - 7.0


Growth Nutrition of Flowering Quince


A 5-2-6 fertilizer formula is ideal for the quince tree as it has just enough nitrogen to help the tree develop foliage and additional potassium for the tree's flowering and fruiting.


Varieties of Flowering Quince


Flowering quince is a member of the rose family as evidenced by its thorny stems and flowers and leaves that resemble those of roses. It is one of the oldest of all landscape plants, having been cultivated for thousands of years in Asia.


The three flowering quince species are:


C. cathayensis, aka Chinese flowering quince, grows and spreads up to 10 feet and bears fruit that’s nearly six inches in diameter. Native to China, Bhutan, and Burma, this species has light-pink and white flowers.


C. speciosa grows and spreads four to 10 feet high and wide, bears red, pink, orange, or white blossoms in early spring on branches that grow in an arching, vertical fashion.


C. japonica, or Japanese flowering quince, grows to just two to four feet in height and width and produces shades of red, salmon- and orange-hued blooms on outward-arching branches.


C. speciosa and C. japonica are both native to east Asia, including China, Japan, and North and South Korea, and have naturalized in much of the eastern half of the United States, as well as in Oregon.


Cultivars that reliably produce fruit include C. speciosa ‘Apple Blossom,’ ‘Toyo Nishiki,’ and C. japonica ‘Texas Scarlet.’


In natural environments, the different varieties of the native species grow six to 10 feet high with a similar spread. Several cultivars of flowering quince are commonly sold at garden centers, and there are also hybrid crosses of other Chaenomeles species. These are a few of the smaller-sized varieties:

  • Chaenomeles x superba 'Jet Trail': It grows 3 to 4 feet tall with white flowers.

  • Chaenomeles x superba 'Texas Scarlet': For an exuberant display of salmon-pink, single-flowered blossoms, look no further than ‘Texas Scarlet,’ a C. japonica cultivar that attracts birds and butterflies to your early-spring yard. It produces small, astringent fruits that the birds simply adore. This cultivar is grows and spreads three to four feet tall and wide. Plant several shrubs three to five feet apart to create a prickly yet pretty hedge.

  • Chaenomeles speciosa 'Orange Delight': It has bright orange double blooms that make for a gorgeous spring display.

  • Double Take series: 'Scarlet Storm,' 'Orange Storm,' and 'Pink Storm' grow to 5 feet high with double flowers of scarlet, orange, or pink. They are grown in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8. This series is deer-resistant, but they are not resistant to rabbits.

  • Double Take Pink: For lush double-flowered, pink-colored blooms, (C. speciosa ‘Pink Storm’). This C. speciosa cultivar is hardy grows up to five feet tall and wide – and no higher. It doesn’t need a yearly haircut and this cultivar does not produce fruit. The flowers are purely for show, and after the initial spring bloom there’s often a rebloom in the fall.

  • Chojubai: Chojubai is the dwarf cultivar. The non-fruit-producing flowers are just one inch across, and the leaves are just half an inch long, making for a perfectly to-scale miniature tree that grows to a mature height of about two feet tall. This is a cultivar that’s hard to find, but it grows readily from cuttings and thrives. It can grow in a container. This variety is also popular for growing as a bonsai tree.



Planting Flowering Quince


When to plant


Because growth begins early in the season, plant in the fall so you can enjoy flowers the following spring.


Where to plant


In full sun or partial shade, but plants will flower best when grown in full sun. Although hardy to zone 5, they do not grow well in areas with hot, steamy climates, such as southern Florida.


Soil


Prefers average moisture-retentive soil but will adapt to almost any soil type as long as there is good drainage. Avoid planting in high pH soil, which can lead to chlorosis (yellowing of the foliage).


Plant spacing


4 to 10 feet apart, depending on the plant’s spread at maturity. When using for hedges or barriers, base spacing on the distance from the center of one plant to the center of the next.


Flowering Quince Care


Light


Grow flowering quince shrubs in full sun. It can grow in partial sun, but the flower display will be better if the plant is exposed to full sunlight.


Soil


Plant flowering quince shrubs in well-drained loam soil for the best flowering display. An overly alkaline soil pH can lead to problems with chlorosis, so keep the soil pH slightly acidic or neutral. These plants can be grown in clay and sandy soils but may be less vigorous.


Water


Mulch the base of the shrubs to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. While these are reasonably drought-tolerant shrubs once established, young plants will need to be watered at times. Water in the morning so excess moisture has time to dry before evening. Sprayed water can cause leaf spots, and leaves may drop if the foliage stays wet.


Temperature and Humidity


Maintaining an even temperature and humidity are crucial for propagating flowering quince via stem cuttings. Temperature also plays a big part in growing this plant from seeds. Once flowering quince is established, though, the plant is quite forgiving of a wide range of temperature and humidity levels. This shrub is quite cold-hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit.


Fertilizer


Feed flowering quince with a slow-release, all-purpose fertilizer in early spring before new growth occurs, or apply compost as a soil amendment. Scatter the fertilizer carefully on the soil around the plant; do not let it touch the foliage, as it can scorch the leaves. Follow with a deep watering to distribute the fertilizer around the roots.


Propagating Flowering Quince


Propagating flowering quince is done through stem rooting or seeds.

  • Seeds: In order for seeds to germinate, they must go through stratification or a freeze and thaw cycle. You can mimic the winter cold by putting the seeds in the refrigerator for 60 to 90 days; then remove them, plant in soil, water, and cover with plastic until germination occurs. Transplant seedlings into separate containers once two sets of true leaves develop. Keep the soil moist but not damp. Continue growing the plants until they reach a height of about 12 inches, then transplant.

  • Cuttings: Cut several stem clippings (about 6 inches long) from the previous year's growth. The diameter of the stems should be that of a pencil. Leave the top leaves intact, but remove the rest of the leaves. Score the bottom section of each stem cutting to reveal the cambium layer beneath the bark. Dip the cutting in a rooting hormone, then embed it in a well-watered, sandy, general-purpose soil. Cover with plastic and set it in a spot with bright light but not direct sun. After a month, check to see if the cutting has rooted by gently tugging the stem. If the stem resists pulling, then it is rooting properly. Wait one more month and then transplant outdoors.


Pruning


Prune just after blooming is over since the bushes bloom on old wood. Pruning should be fairly light, but when done immediately after blooming it will stimulate new growth that makes for more profuse blooming the following spring.


Pests and Diseases


Flowering quince is susceptible to fungal leaf spot. Fireblight and scab can sometimes occur. Aphids can badly damage new growth but the damage is not life-threatening. Other insect pests include scale and mites. Chlorosis (yellowing of the foliage) can occur in high pH (alkaline) soils.


Uses


The species have become popular ornamental shrubs in parts of Europe and North America, grown in gardens both for their bright flowers and as a spiny barrier. Some cultivars grow up to 2 m tall, but others are much smaller and creeping. The fruits are hard and – although less astringent than quinces – are unpleasant to eat raw, tasting like an unripe apple with the acidity of a lemon, though they do soften and become less astringent after frost (via the process of bletting). The fruits are suitable for making liqueurs, as well as marmalade and preserves, as they contain more pectin than apples and true quinces. The tree is suitable for cultivation as a bonsai.

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