Flowering Quince: Cinderella of the Early Spring Garden
Photo by Melody

Flowering Quince: Cinderella of the Early Spring Garden

By Marie Harrison (can2grow)March 29, 2012
bookmark

All winter, flowering quince has been sitting in its corner, its spiny tangled mass of branches nondescript. Then, one day in early spring, the fairy godmother of the garden waves her magic wand. Bright flowers emerge from the leafless stems against a barren winter landscape, and flowering quince becomes the Cinderella of the garden.

Gardening picture

(Editor's Note:  This article was originally published on January 22, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)

  Image

Flowering quince blooms in late winter to early spring at a time when gardeners welcome their bright colors.

 

Flowering quince has been around for years. I remember it in the yards and gardens of my childhood. I admired it even then, and my eyes drank it all in when the school bus traveled through the countryside with its load of winter-weary children. It colored bleak Mississippi landscapes with its glorious bright red blossoms that glistened among the daffodils. I am almost certain that my memory of it is more beautiful than the shrub itself, although, who can fault something that blooms at a time when color is so much needed?

The outline of the shrubs is usually rounded, but it can vary considerably and may be erect or rambling. Waxy 1 1/2-inch flowers that resemble apple blossoms emerge anywhere from January to March in the South. Flowers are borne on old wood in clusters of two to four and may be red, salmon, pink, or white. Most flowers are single, but some cultivars have double flowers. Fruit is an astringent hard, yellow, two-inch apple-like fruit. Although not good to eat raw, it makes a tasty jelly or marmalade.

Culture and Use

Flowering quince is an adaptable, easy to grow shrub that does best in full sun. It is tolerant of dry soils, but can develop chlorosis in high pH soils. Periodic pruning improves bloom. Old canes and suckers can be removed every year. Shrubs can be pruned back to about 6–12 inches above the soil. Pruning should be done immediately after flowering since flowers are borne on the previous season's wood.

Problems include its susceptibility to apple scab and fireblight. Scale, mites and aphids can also be problematic. Because of its twigginess and thorns, leaves and garbage can collect in the plant and cause an untidy look.

Use flowering quince as a hedge or barrier plant or in a shrub border. Tall types can be used as specimens or can be espaliered to accent a wall or fence. Thorny gray-brown branches are attractive in floral designs.

 Image    

A pink-flowering cultivar

 

Kinds of Flowering Quince

Three distinct species of flowering quince are Chaenomeles speciosa, C. japonica, and C. ×superba (a cross between the two). Many cultivars exist. Dr. Dirr lists some of the most common which include 'Cameo' (double apricot pink flowers), 'Jet Trail' (white), 'Minerva' (cherry-red), 'Nivalis' (white), 'Spitfire' (vivid red), and 'Toyo-Nishiki' (pink, white, red and combination-colored flowers on the same branch). ‘Texas Scarlet' grows to about 4 feet tall and has bright red blossoms. Many consider this one to be the best because of its spreading habit and profuse flowering.   

Image
(a cultivar with peach-colored flowers)

 

Keep a lookout for flowering quince this spring. Get a good look and hold it in your memory. In a short time it will be a nondescript shrub that will not get a second glance. It's one of our season markers, signaling that winter's time is short, and that spring is in the offing.

At a Glance

Common name: Flowering Quince

Scientific name: Chaenomeles speciosa

Pronunciation: kee-no-MAY-leez spee-see-OH-suh

Family: Rosaceae

Relatives: Rose, plum, crabapple

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4–10             

Salt Tolerance: Slight to moderate

Size: 6 to 10 feet tall x 6 to 10 wide

Origin: China

Propagation: Cuttings (softwood, semihardwood, or hardwood), layering, seed, sucker removal

 

Quince Jelly

Makes about 4 half pint jars

From Elaine Courtney, Okaloosa County Extension, Crestview, Florida

 

3 ¾ cups quince juice (3.5 pounds quince + 7 cups water)

¼ cup lemon juice

3 cups sugar

Prepare Juice: Select about ¼ firm ripe and ¾ fully ripe quince. Sort, wash and remove stems and blossom ends; do not pare or core. Slice quince very thin or into small pieces into a saucepan. Add water, cover and bring to boil on high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Extract juice, using a jelly bag.

Making the jelly: Measure quince juice into saucepan. Add lemon juice and sugar and stir well. Boil over high heat to 220 degrees or until jelly mixture sheets from spoon.

Remove from heat; skim off foam quickly. Pour jelly immediately info hot canning jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.


  About Marie Harrison  
Marie HarrisonServing as a Master Flower Show Judge, a Floral Design Instructor, instructor of horticulture for National Garden Clubs, and a University of Florida Master Gardener immerses me in gardening/teaching activities. In addition to these activities, I contribute regularly to Florida Gardening magazine and other publications. I am author of four gardening books, all published by Pineapple Press, Sarasota, Florida. Read about them and visit me at www.mariesgardenanddesign.com.

  Helpful links  
Share on Facebook Share on Stumbleupon

[ Mail this article | Print this article ]

» Read articles about: Spring Gardening, Ornamental Trees And Shrubs, Flowering Quince, Recipes

» Read more articles written by Marie Harrison

« Check out our past articles!



Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
darker beauty in English garden summerwonder 4 37 Apr 12, 2012 2:47 PM
using the fruit pastapicker 1 8 Apr 2, 2012 12:48 PM
I have one synda 2 44 Apr 2, 2012 12:26 PM
Seen at Ft. Worth Botanical garden gmarshpchef 0 6 Apr 2, 2010 8:51 AM
I love my quince Erminetrude 0 12 Mar 11, 2010 11:01 AM
One of my favorite shrubs ival 4 34 Mar 11, 2010 6:04 AM
Ripening fruit Dlee1949 0 8 Mar 8, 2010 5:17 PM
Snowbound marthabud 0 8 Mar 8, 2010 1:01 PM
Quince bush maiglocke 1 49 Mar 7, 2010 11:18 PM
Suckers badly! vmow 2 66 Mar 7, 2010 11:14 PM
help plantgnome 3 65 Apr 14, 2009 5:57 PM
Quinces in Alaska Oberon46 0 29 Jan 27, 2009 5:33 PM
Help with Quince dprier 1 45 Jan 27, 2009 2:14 AM
Wonderful shrub kniphofia 5 76 Jan 23, 2009 3:24 AM
I will be looking Allwild 0 27 Jan 22, 2009 8:59 PM
You cannot post until you login.


We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2014 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.
 

Hope for America