Flowering Quince: A Charmer That Brightens Your Landscape In Late Winter
Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) is a deciduous shrub valued for its masses of showy white, red, or pink blooms that brighten the landscape in late winter and early spring. Most varieties grow to 6 to 10 feet tall, with a similar spread, although some top out at only 3 feet. Flowering quince thrives in zones 4 through 9.
The flowers are 1 to 2 inches in diameter, with five petals, and bloom in late winter or early spring. The glossy dark green leaves appear soon after flowering and turn yellow or red in autumn. The edible quince fruit is yellowish-green with reddish blush and speckled with small dots. The fruit is 2 to 4 inches in diameter, fragrant, and ripens in fall.
The fruit of the flowering quince is sometimes used for making jellies, marmalade, and preserves, as it contains more pectin than apples, and real quinces. The fruit also has more vitamin C than lemons.
The foliage of flowering quince turns yellow to red in the fall, providing color to the landscape. By virtue of its thorny dense growth habit, flowering quince is an excellent choice for an effective security barrier or to discourage foot traffic. It can be espaliered and is also suitable for cultivation as bonsai.
Flowering quince is used as a food plant by the larvae of some butterflies, and the flowers attract bees. Because it blooms so early, flowering quince is an important food for hummingbirds and will bring the birds to your yard before you even get your feeders out of storage.
How To Make Your Flowering Quince Thrive
This shrub is easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade; yYou will get your best flowering in full sun. It easily adapts to a wide range of soil conditions, but prefers well-drained loams. Established plants will tolerate dryish soils. Plants bloom on old growth so avoid heavy pruning. Prune to shape as needed in spring after flowering to stimulate growth of flowering spurs which will improve bloom for the following year (although such pruning will reduce fruit production for the current year). Act quickly to remove root suckers so you can control spread.
Use mulch to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. While these are reasonably drought-tolerant shrubs once established, young plants will usually need to be watered at times.
General Flowering Quince Information
Pests And Diseases
It is an extremely tough plant that will persist for years without pruning or serious insect or disease problems.
Flowering quince is susceptible to fungal leaf spot (particularly in years with heavy spring rainfall) which can cause leaf defoliation. Fireblight and scab can be problems in some areas. Aphids can cause significant damage to new growth. Lesser pest problems include scale and mites. Chlorosis (yellowing of foliage) will occur in high pH soils. Flower buds are susceptible to significant damage from early spring frosts.
You can propagate from both cuttings and seed. Cuttings should be 6 to 8 inch stem clippings from the previous year’s growth.
Flowering Quince is not showy enough from season to season to be used as a specimen plant, I recommend growing it in mass along borders or as an early-spring accent in mixed border plantings. I have also seen varieties that bear thorns planted in hedges, for which the thorns furnish a measure of security. The old-time favorite Chaenomeles japonica is a classic cottage garden plant
- Family: Rosaceae
- Common Name: flowering quince
- Type: Deciduous shrub
- Hardiness Zones: Zones 4 to 8
- Height: 6 to 10 feet
- Width: 6 to 10 feet
- Bloom Time: March to April
- Bloom Description: Scarlet to red
- Sun: Full sun to part shade
- Water: Medium
- Maintenance: Low
- Fruit: Showy, Edible
- Other Notable Facts: Thorns
- Tolerates: Drought, Clay Soil
- Resistant: Plants are deer-resistant, it is not rabbit-resistant, does attract hummingbirds
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