Flowering Quince Care: How To Care For A Japanese Flowering Quince

By: Teo Spengler

Japanese flowering quince shrubs (Chaenomeles spp.) are a heritage ornamental plant with a brief, but memorably dramatic, floral display. This species is an old one, and has been cultivated in Asia for thousands of years. A member of the rose family, it arrived in the United States in the 1800’s, a favorite on farms because of its edible fruit. It helps that flowering quince care is easy and doesn’t take up much of a gardener’s time.

Japanese Flowering Quince Shrubs

Today, most American gardeners who are growing Japanese flowering quince do so for the spring blossoms. The bright flowers erupt into bloom in March or April in vibrant shades of pink, white, orange or red that only last a few weeks. Some cultivars offer a few flowers again in autumn.

Various species and cultivars exist, but the common flowering quince plants are most commonly planted. Common Japanese flowering quince shrubs grow to 10 feet (3 m.) tall and equally wide. They are thorned plants, so they serve well in a defensive hedge or along a property borderline.

Although the fruits of flowering quince plants are edible, the fruit is very tart. You can make a jelly from the quince fruit, or simply leave a fruit in the house to provide a piquant fragrance. This shrub also differs from the quince fruit tree, which is commonly grown for its fruit.

How to Care for a Japanese Flowering Quince

Those who want to know how to care for a Japanese flowering quince are happy to learn that these are easy-care plants. They tolerate urban conditions and withstand drought stress.

Growing Japanese flowering quince is not difficult, since these shrubs are tough and undemanding. They grow in sun or partial shade and accept most soils other than very wet ones. They will grow faster and bloom better if you provide irrigation during dry periods.

The shrubs form compact and virtually impenetrable hedges. They are perfect territory for sheltering bird nests and the homes of other small wildlife.

The most difficult task in flowering quince care is pruning a bush planted in too small a location to accommodate its full, mature size. On the other hand, flowering quince do accept severe pruning without problem, so don’t hesitate to cut the shrub down to the size you want.

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Mistakes to Avoid when Growing a Flowering Quince

Flowering quince shrubs and trees make colorful additions to the garden landscape when planted properly. In general, flowering quince is fairly tolerant to a wide variety of conditions, although there are a few mistakes to avoid.

Planting in Shade

Flowering quince requires full sun to do well. In shady areas, quinces tend to get too much water and moisture. In hot climates only, planting in partial shade may be warranted.

Pruning at the Wrong Time

Since flowering quince blooms in spring on new wood, if it is pruned when the buds have already begun to appear, this cuts off spring blooms.

Insufficient Water

In full sun, flowering quince photosynthesizes more efficiently than in shade. But it does require thorough watering. If not watered deeply, the flowering quince will not thrive.

Watering from Above

Misting or watering from above encourages rot. Always water at the base of the plant.

Not Planting Sprouted Seed

Once harvested, flowering quince seeds should be placed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. If they begin to sprout, they can’t be kept alive over winter. Once sprouted, the seeds need to be planted. Plant outside in a protected area and after a freeze and mulch with 4 to 5 inches of organic material. Flowering quince seeds can be planted indoors, but use a shop light to provide sufficient illumination. Plant outside after last frost in spring.

Planting in Wrong Soil

Flowering quince likes heavy, moist soil – the kind found on creek and river banks where flowering quinces often grow wild. Once they’re established, flowering quince can tolerate very wet conditions, but they do best in well-drained soil.

Planting on Hillsides with Cold Spring Air

Flowering quince can be planted on slopes and hillsides with the proper exposure. When planted in areas with cold spring air, while this may not damage the tree or shrub, the air may be too cold for pollinating insects during the spring blossoming period.

Planting in Area with Late Frost Pockets

Avoid planting flowering quince in any area that receives heavy frost pockets, especially valley areas which lack sufficient air circulation. Quince are the last deciduous fruit to appear, so late frost can damage blooms and result in loss of fruit.

Planting in Unprotected Area

Too much wind hampers flowering quince growth. The tree limbs can break in heavy wind, especially when laden with fruit. Use artificial barriers around flowering quince or plant in a protected area.

Pruning Mistakes

Pruning too hard or too late (after buds have begun to appear) will lessen blooms and fruit production. Do all new pruning in winter, especially moderate to hard cutting. Do keep flowering quince tidy during the growing season by cutting off dead or diseased branches.

Improper Disease and Pest Control

Although generally trouble-free, flowering quince can be attached by vermin, pests and diseases. Keep trees and shrubs fenced or protected. Use fungicides and pesticides as appropriate to control quince fleck, fruit fly and coddling moths.

In summary, plant flowering quince in the right location, tend to its needs for water, disease/pest/vermin control, and watch it grow.

Flowering Quince Container Growing Tips

A flowering quince or chaenomles superba is often referred to as the Pink Lady this is because of the pink flowers that bloom in the spring. There are different varieties of flowering quince plants, which will produce white, orange, or scarlet blossoms. A quince shrub will make a welcome addition to any garden and can be grown and maintained very easily in a container.

A flowering quince plant can grow up to 6ft tall so it is essential that its container will be able to support this growth whilst also providing good drainage. Choose a large container, this can be either plastic or ceramic. If a ceramic pot is being used, ensure that it has a hole in the bottom of it to allow for the water to drain effectively.

A quince shrub will thrive in moist soil, for best results the soil should have a springy texture and should not be too wet. If the soil is too wet then the quince plant will not grow and there is an increased chance of it developing root rot. For optimum performance add compost or mulch to the soil as this will improve essential water retention whilst also improving drainage. Water a quince plant regularly but allow a day or two between sessions to allow for the drainage. It is best to water a quince every 2 to 3 days as this will allow the plant to absorb the correct amount of water.

A flowering quince will flourish in plenty of sunshine although it can also withstand cooler climates. A quince plant should receive a minimum of 2 hours of sunlight a day. During the winter months the plant will shed its leaves, and for extra care cover the base of the plant with a layer of mulch as this will protect it from the freezing and thawing process.

A quince plant can be trained with an espalier to grow against a wall if there is limited space in the garden or if it is being grown as a border plant. Training a flowering quince is a simple task that requires a regular amount of pruning to ensure that it maintains a desired shape.

A flowering quince will need to be pruned annually during the late fall and early winter months before any flowers have been produced. When pruning a quince it is important to first remove all dead leaves and shoots as this will minimize the likelihood of viruses or diseases developing. A flowering quince can also be lightly pruned during the year to maintain its shape.

Different pruning techniques are effective on a quince shrub. The main technique is pinching this is used to remove the stem tips from young branches to encourage stronger growth and reduces the need for severe pruning. Another popular pruning technique for a quince is thinning this involves removing whole branches from the trunk to allow more light exposure and increases air circulation around the flowers.

Flowering quince, a shrub with lovely lipstick-pink blossoms, is not to be confused with the quince tree that bears fruit. The former you want to plant in front of a window the latter produces fruit for jams, jellies, and marmalades.

The miracle that flowering quince performs is to make you believe in the spring. As our contributor Jeanne Rostaing writes, “One day recently I passed by and was surprised to notice that quince had already begun its early spring flower show. The shrub’s stark thicket of brown-black branches are now festooned with cup shaped flowers in an eye-popping shade of bright orangey pink. Seemingly overnight this Asian native had transformed itself from a bare, unremarkable shrub to a decorative ornament worthy of its place of honor at the entrance to an elegant home.”

Like forsythia, flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) blooms early on bare wood and then gracefully retreats into the background for the rest of the growing season. When branches start to bud, cut them and bring them indoors to force them in a vase (you’ll get to enjoy the flowers longer). Beware of flowering quince’s thorns: keep this deciduous shrub away from high-traffic areas and instead consider planting it as a security hedge.

How to Dig Up Flowering Quince

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Flowering quince (Chaenomeles ) is an early-blooming shrub that produces beautiful 1 1/2- to 2-inch blossoms in shades of white, pink, orange or red. After the showy display, which last only a few weeks, the plant returns to a tangle of thorny, bare branches. Flowering quince is easy to grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. You can easily dig up and move the plant if necessary to transplant or remove it from your yard.

Prepare the new area for the flowering quince before digging up the plant, if you plan to transplant it in a new location. Choose a sunny site with enough space to accommodate the mature size of a flowering quince, which is generally 6 to 10 feet tall and wide. Dig a planting hole that is 2 to 3 times wider than the root ball, which can be estimated at 9 to 12 inches per inch of trunk diameter.

Before digging, remove any sticks or other yard debris from around the flowering quince, so you have a safe, clear work space.

Start digging an area twice the size you calculate the root ball to be. Dig into the ground around the root ball area, moving closer to the roots, until you see roots.

Use the shovel to dig under the root ball and push it up. Hold the tree by its based and tug it to loosen the tree from its hole. Use a spade to cut any remaining roots and remove the flowering quince from the hole.

Wrap the root ball in a piece of burlap to prevent disturbing the soil ball. Place the plant into a wheelbarrow to move to its new location. Replant at the same depth it was panted prior to removal.

Watch the video: Double Take Peach Quince.

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