Only this isn't the only advantage for having a Japanese quince bush -it also produces edible fruits.
When Japanese quince propagation fails just buy one from the superstore
For years, I've tried to propagate a Japanese quince, but always failed. Somehow, my green thumb hasn't been so green with the Japanese quince cuttings, which I've planted in the garden or kept in water. I guess the time wasn't right, although the gardeners opinions differs from taking the cuttings when the plants are dormant to taking them after blooming. However, as I still wanted one of those bushes in my garden, I never gave up trying -until I found some small Japanese quince transplants at the superstore. They were folded tight in one bunch and, when I opened them up, I saw three plants - or, better said, three small branches. I gave one of them to a friend and kept the other two. I planted them along the fence, with a forsythia transplant in between, in order to have beautiful and colorful blooms in the spring. I planned for it to be a living fence in the future.
There are a number of Japanese quince varieties
At first, both of the Japanese quince transplants looked the same, since they didn't have any leaves. But then, when they started to grow, one of them grew fragile and short, yet bushy, while the other one was almost a bare, but very strong branch. Their leaves were different too. The smaller bush had paler green and more round leaves, while the stronger bush had larger, dark green luscious leaves. Those resembled the most common Japanese quince I have often seen in the park. My greatest wish was to see them blooming with those beautiful red flowers I've always admired.
During their first year, the smaller bush produced a few orange flowers, which was exciting, but yet disappointing, because I was expecting the red blooms. The other bush didn't bloom that spring, which was even more disappointing!
Later in the fall, I realized that I need to prune both bushes, to stimulate more growth and the flowering buds. I pruned them the same way as I prune any ornamental shrub, such as forsythia.
During the following year, both Japanese quince bushes grew larger and higher, but only the smallest one was full of orange flowers. The other bush still didn't bloom. I had no choice but wait another year.
On the third year, the bigger bush finally bloomed for the first time and it had red flowers. That was such a huge relief and a wonderful surprise, because I had two different Japanese quince varieties. I found out that the smaller bush is a variety of Japanese quince from the genus Chaenomeles, which is called Chinese quince - Chaenomeles speciosa- the 'Geisha Girl' a cultivar with salmon-pink flowers. The bigger bush is the most common Japanese quince variety, which has the Latin name of Chaenomeles japonica.
The Japanese quince produces edible fruits
The following year, both bushes bloomed more and enchanted me with their beautiful flowers. But, after the flowers were gone and later that summer, I saw some small fruits on both bushes. I told myself that those could be quince fruits, since they were Japanese quince. Nevertheless, I checked on the internet and found out that I was right.
I had never seen fruits on a Japanese quince before, but I couldn't be happier for having some on my bushes. That meant more fruits in my garden, which was really great.
The Japanese quince fruit looks like the true quince -Cydonia oblonga- only much smaller, with a more round shape, looking more like an apple. The skin and flesh are hard, with an astringent taste. They are even more astringent than the true quince. The fruit is a pome with four carpels and lots of seeds inside.
The raw fruit is edible (if you like the very sour lemon-like taste) but it is mostly used for making jam or jelly. I like the true quince and eat it raw, but the Japanese quince' fruits are too astringent for my taste and I just couldn't eat them, not even a small chunk.
When I have some real quince, just picked up from the tree, I always keep them on my window sill or on a cupboard in the kitchen, same as my grandma did. This is where they ripen even more and get yellower and tender. That makes it easier for cutting in chunks or shredding when making jam, or just for eating them raw. Not to mention the lovely scent they spread around the house.
Knowing all these things about the true quince, I did the same with the Japanese quince fruits. I could have left them on the branches until the first frost, which would have made them tender, but since the birds kept on eating them, I had to pick them, even if some weren't ripened yet. I kept them on the windowsill, where they turned yellow and tender. I wasn't sure what to do with them, but I've decided to make some jam. I love quince jam, because it reminds me of my grandma.
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