Shrubs

Guide to Flowering Quince: How to Grow & Care for “Chaenomeles” Shrubs

Read our guide to Flowering Quince for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing & caring for “Chaenomeles” Shrubs
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Chaenomeles, commonly referred to as Flowering Quince, Japanese Quince, or Japonica for hybrids, is a genus that contains species of spiny deciduous shrubs. Flowering quince plants belong to the Rosaceae family and are originated in regions of Southeast Asia.

Flowering quince species are usually cultivated as ornamental plants due to their lovely flowers. They can also serve as a food source for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, such as the Bucculatrix Pomifoliella and brown-tail moths. Moreover, their apple-like fruits are often used in liqueurs, preserves, marmalade, and jam.

 About Flowering Quince

  • Flowering quince plants attract hummingbirds and other pollinators. Although they are tough shrubs that resist to wild livestock like deers, they are a high attraction and quite vulnerable to rabbits.
  • Japonica species is suitable for cultivation as a bonsai. It has played a big part in Japanese culture for thousands of years.
  • In traditional Chinese medicine, these plants are known for their antiviral and antioxidant properties. Flowering quinces are used as a treatment for rheumatic and arthritic conditions of the muscles, bones, and joints.
  • Their fruits can improve any room ambient with their mesmerizing spicy fragrance.
  • Flowering quinces enjoy the warm days with full sun. Grow these plants in a sunny location for better blooming. Make sure you place them in a spot with partial shade if you live in a hot region.
  • These shrubs do well in any type of neutral to slightly acidic soil as long as it is well-draining. When planting them, add a layer of compost to improve drainage.
  • Feed your flowering quince with a proper fertilizer right before blooming and inspect it occasionally to spot the possible pest infestations.
  • They need regular pruning to grow healthy, bloom sporadically, and bear fruits.
  • Studies have shown that flowering quince has no toxic effects on pets and humans. Although their fruits are edible, they are hard and quite unpleasant to eat raw.
The Flowering Quince Bush
The Flowering Quince Bush

Flowering Quince Features: An Overview

  • The Chaenomeles genus contains only three species: C. Cathayensis, C. Japonica, and C. Speciosa. They are related to Cydonia Oblonga (traditional quince) and Pseudocydonia Sinensis (Chinese quince).
  • Flowering quince plants are multi-stemmed spiny shrubs. They are related to roses, producing tiny and sharp thorns on their woody branches.
  • Depending on the varieties, these plants can grow between 6 and 10 feet (1.8-3 m) tall in their natural habitat. When growing in a garden, they need a lot of space to unfold.
  • Their foliage is simple, having oval, shiny, and dark green leaves with serrated margins. They grow alternately, up to 3.5 inches (8.8 cm), on gray-brown branches.
  • In late winter or early spring, Flowering quince plants produce fragrant flowers that have five petals. They can measure about 1.1 to 1.8 inches (3-4.5 cm) in diameter and exhibit vibrant colors, such as orange, red, pink, or white.
  • With proper care, their flowers last for about one or two weeks. Some varieties can bloom again in fall.
  • Most varieties of flowering quinces bear small yellowish-green fruits after the blooming period. The pomes, apple-like fruits ripen in early fall.
Chaenomeles, commonly referred to as Flowering Quince, Japanese Quince, or Japonica
Chaenomeles, commonly referred to as Flowering Quince, Japanese Quince, or Japonica

Growing Flowering Quince

Most gardeners love flowering quince plants, as they are very easy to grow and care for. If you are interested in these flowering shrubs, their tolerant and forgiving behavior makes them an excellent garden companion.

They love basking in full sun. These shrubs can also be grown in bright, indirect light or partial sun, but they will not bloom as much as when grown in direct sunlight. You should keep your plant in partial shade only if you live in areas with hot climates.

If you live in cool climates, flowering quince plants are ideal for your garden, as they can survive in temperatures that drop down to -25 °F (-31 °C). These plants are quite cold hardy, and they have a tough time growing in regions with extremely hot climates. Many plants suffer overall damage and sunburn if they are exposed to temperatures that rise above 86 °F (30 °C) for several days.

When growing these shrubs from seeds, the temperature is very important. Once they have settled in their new growth environment, they can tolerate a wide range of temperature levels.

Closeup of the Chaenomeles Flower
Closeup of the Chaenomeles Flower

You can grow flowering quinces in most types of soils as long as they have good drainage. They can tolerate clay or sandy soils, but you should go for a slightly acidic to neutral loamy soil to ensure better flowering. Avoid any overly alkaline potting mixes. For optimal growth, you can also add some compost when planting these beauties.

They will benefit from a nice feeding before new growth occurs. In early spring, feed your flowering quince a slow-release, all-purpose fertilizer. Make sure you scatter the fertilizer on the soil without touching the plant’s foliage, as it can burn the leaves. To distribute the product around the roots, end the fertilizing process with deep watering.

Like all shrubs, flowering quinces require regular pruning for a fresh and attractive look. Their flowers form on old wood, so you can prune them when the blooming period is over. Remove the crossed branches and any old stem that seems damaged, weak, or dead. If flowering is scarce, you should cut the entire plant to a height of 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm), as this will help your shrub rejuvenate. To maintain a certain size or shape for the older plants, the crowded branches, and taller stems can be trimmed off.

Usually, these plants are vulnerable to fungal leaf spot and fireblight. Pests like aphids, scab, mites, or scale insects can occur once in a while. Aphids tend to feed on new growth, but the damage is not life-threatening. When the leaves are turning yellow, it may be an indicator of chlorosis’ presence.

If you notice any sign of infestation, remove the suffering branches, and treat your flowering quince with fungicide.

Watering Flowering Quinces

There is no need to worry about how often you should water these plants. Flowering Qquinces are quite tolerant of drought once they have settled in their new growth environment. However, when you first plant a young shrub, it will need more frequent watering than usual.

Generally, Flowering Quince plants need one deep watering once a week. Depending on the climate conditions, the frequency of watering may vary. Check the soil in-between waterings and do not water your plant if the soil is still damp to the touch.

Make sure you do all the watering in the morning to allow the excess moisture to dry before sunset. They are susceptible to leaf spot during the rainy periods, so you might consider protecting them from aggressive rainfalls or water sprays. Keep your plant’s leaves dry by watering it only at the base.

Propagating Flowering Quinces

Many gardeners use flowering quinces as hedges to provide their landscapes with a spring touch. If you want to border your garden with more colorful quinces, you can easily do so through seeds or stem cuttings. These methods are safe, fast, and require no extra effort or experience from your part.

Seeds of flowering quinces can be removed from their fruits and separated from the pulp. Take the seeds in autumn and pass them through a freezing-thawing process. Before freezing, clean the seeds in water and let them dry for a few days. Once they have dried out, place them in a zip lock bag filled with clean, damp sand or peat moss. You can simulate the cold environment by keeping the bag in the refrigerator for two to three months.

Chaenomeles japonica seedling in pot
Chaenomeles japonica seedling in pot

After the freezing period, remove the seeds from the bag, plant one or two in fresh potting soil, and cover the pot with plastic wrap until germination. Place the container near a south-facing window and water the soil generously. Wait for the baby plant to grow about 12 inches (30 cm) tall, then transplant it outdoors.

To propagate your flowering quince by cuttings, make sure you use stems from the previous growing season. Look for stems that have the diameter of a pencil and cut them at about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) long.

Remove the bottom leaves from the branches, leaving the top ones intact. Dip the cuttings in rooting hormone, then plant them in a container filled with sandy, all-purpose soil and water them well. Cover the pot with plastic wrap and keep it in a bright, warm, and humid place with no direct sunlight.

You will notice that your cutting has rooted in about one month. Check the rooting state by gently pulling the stem. If the stem seems rooted properly, you should wait another month before transplanting the flowering quince in your garden.

In Conclusion

Bring the Asian spring breeze into your garden with these gorgeous flowering quinces. They are low-maintenance shrubs that you can easily propagate at home, so you can build a colorful hedge or surprise your friends with a small gift.

These plants will grow happy and healthy in a sunny, warm, and humid location. They can tolerate almost any type of soil and even short periods of drought. If you offer them proper environmental conditions, flowering quinces will produce fragrant flowers. Also, you might want to look for some jam recipes, as their fruits are a delicious snack that will sweeten your day.

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Miruna Secuianu

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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