Pruning flowering quince (I think that's what it is)

BATTLEBORO, NC

Summier 2012 this 'brush' was overgrown and looked sick with mildew and worse. I've cut it back and moved the plants to separate them somewhat.
A week ago they were budding up and now are all frozen with overnight lows in 20s.
I see where a lot of old trunks and branches have moldy looking ends, maybe 5" long.
I want to lopper these and dispose of the sickness.
Is it wrong to cut while it is freezing?
The fruit was sick with mold (picture). I want to correct the situation.

Thumbnail by RESORT2ME Thumbnail by RESORT2ME Thumbnail by RESORT2ME
Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

Often most of the fungi thrive when there is high humidity (such as from lawn irrigation) and poor air circulation.
I would thin the plants to open them up, and remove some of the older, less productive branches. Keep the stronger, younger branches and if they need to be pruned, cut them is a way that makes the new growth grow away from the center of the plant.

Do not prune when it will still freeze. Cutting usually encourages new growth, and new growth is most susceptible to cold.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I agree with Diana_K when she recommends pruning to open up the plant to allow for more air to circulate and get into the middle of the bush / shrub, this helps to let air, light, and lets you keep an eye on the diseased area your concerned about. Branches that cross over each other and rub away the bark causing wounds also causes Fungal disease and mould to get into the branches so, when pruning, remove any such branches.
For branches thicker than 3 inches I always cut from under side first and then on top as thei removes the danger of the thicker branches being damaged by the weight as you cut / saw or prune.

Keep in mind there are many reasons that mould / fungal diseases develop, it may be there is heavy overgrowth from tree's / shrubs that block the air / light reaching the shrubs, or the trees / shrubs can drip rain water down constantly and no sun being able to dry off the thick bush below, so you would begin by removing some of the upper growth.
Insects and greenfly etc, all carry fungal spores as they move around our garden plants, the wrong type of pruning allows disease and fungus to enter open wounds too, frost can cause damage to new wounds also and when the thaw arrives, the disease can spread further down or deeper into the cuts from the pruning.

I would advise as Diane has done and say leave the pruning till you see new growth emerge in early spring and this will allow you better guidance as you prune,
It is always best to prune fruit shrubs / trees just above a new bud and make it an outward facing bud as this will direct the newly forming little bud to grow in the outward direction helping the shrub stay more open in growth, also when you make the cut, make it a slanting cut as this also reduces the new cut being rotted as the slant will prevent rain water laying on the cut. All pruning should be cut at a slant / slope and the lower part of the slope should cause the water to drop down the outer area of the branches so it cant drip into the heart of the shrub and lay there for long periods.

For now the best I would do, IF you feel you have to do something, is remove the fruit and this will help the shrub reserve some energy for formation of new spring growth. It is imperative that you also gather up all the fallen leaves, all the bits of wood you have removed from these shrubs and best to dispose of it either by burning or removal from the garden as most fungal / mould is carried over the winter cold and can lay dormant for many years in the soil from the leaf drop and pruning's.
It would be a good idea to wash all your tools used while working on this mould or you could spread it around that way.
Once you have spring pruned and removed all trace of the stuff cut off, add a feed to the soil and fork it into the top 2 inches as this will help give the plants a good start for the new season, after that, just keep a close eye on these shrubs and check from bud, flowering right through to fruiting, make sure they get watered when dry and fed spring and autumn. they probably have been neglected for a few years and with care from now on, they will reward you well, they are very attractive when in flower and the leaf colour too.
Good luck. Weenel.

BATTLEBORO, NC

Thanks

BATTLEBORO, NC

Many hours were put in moving the bushes further apart and more away from the fence. Much pruning was done.

Photo 2 shows how I left them through end of winter. They flowered, got frozen back and flowered again before spring leaves.

Photo 3 shows that more pruning is forthcoming. I sure didn't handle them with kid gloves and they are so bushy that I expect to remove some leaves to watch the fruit develop and grow.

We salvaged and enjoyed a bit of preserves last year and with healthier plants I expect we'll put up several jars this fall.

Thumbnail by RESORT2ME Thumbnail by RESORT2ME Thumbnail by RESORT2ME
Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Well have you worked your socks off or what, you should be very proud of yourself with that lot of work done RESORT2ME, I think before long you will be done replanning and redoing your garden and ready to sit outside and enjoy it, just try relax and sip your coffee while you admire all your hard work.
Best regards, WeeNel.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

For flowers, these are easiest to keep under control by establishing a rotating pattern of pruning that may work in about a 4-5 year schedule.
Cut out all the older branches (5 years old) and thin the others just a bit to branches that are growing outward. Allow them to grow as tall as they want, do not shorten them too much. Shortening the branches will make them branch more down lower, meaning the middle of the shrub gets too dense.

Getting rid of the old branches and allowing it to grow tall will create an open shrub that is less prone to disease.

Maybe you won't get as good a crop the first year after transplanting, but it sure looks good so far!

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