One of the first shrubs to bloom, Flowering Quince heralds the coming of spring when bright fresh flowers dot bare gray branches. Chaenomeles (ky-anom-aleez) branches are often cut and used in arrangements to celebrate the Lunar New Year, red flowers being the color of choice for such events.
Chaenomeles flowers last well into April and can appear sporadically through summer. Leaves are long and green with slightly curled edges.
Fruits resembling small bumpy apples develop in autumn, and while edible, they are very astringent but with enough sugar and they are palatable. This is not the quince typically used for jelly: although both are members of the rose family, fruiting quince grows on trees and tastes quite different. (Download our brochure on Fruiting Quince.)
Portland Nursery carries many different varieties of Flowering Quince. Here are some of our favorites:
Pale pink buds open to white single flowers. Branches twist and turn, and so do leaves and thorns!
Grows to 2-3’ tall and wider. Contorted Quince makes an interesting bonsai specimen as well.
Chaenomeles Storm Series
The Storm series is a line of Chaenomeles with orange, red or pink double flowers. In flowers, ‘double’ means a lot of petals. They are thornless and don't produce fruit.
Grows 4-5', sun-part shade, Z5
Chaenomeles ‘Orange Delight’
Deep orange single flowers. Grows 2-3’ tall x 2-3' wide.
Chaenomeles ‘Pink Lady’
Aptly-named for prett pink flowers.
Grows to 4’ tall & 6’ wide. Allow plenty of space!
Chaenomeles ‘Toyo Nishiki’
Ooh-la-la! Individual flowers can be pink, red or white or a combination of all colors, blooming all along the same branch.
Tall shrub, 6-10’.
Facts: Flowering Quince
Common: Flowering Quince
Origin: Native to China, Japan & Korea
Characteristics: White, pink, peach, orange or red flowers bloom in mid to late winter, before bronze and green new leaves show up in March.
Most flowers are single types, but new cultivars are becoming available with semi-double and fully double blooms. Yellow-green apple-shaped fruit follows flowers, ripening in October.
Eaten fresh, the fruit will cause serious facial contortions due to its sour nature. Branches are sometimes thorny, so beware!
Size: Mature sizes vary. Some are low and spreading, forming a thicket-like mass, great for supporting birds and other wildlife. Others are tall shrubs with an upright oval shape.
Low sizes – 2-3’ tall x 5-6’ wide
Medium sizes – 4-5’ tall x 4-5’ wide
Tall sizes – 6-10’ tall x 4-6’ wide
Culture: Quince is very adaptable, thriving in a broad range of soil conditions including dry spots. Flowers are more prolific if planted in full sun, but quince will thrive in partial shade as well.
Leaves can burn when plants are grown in containers, so extra water or afternoon shade may discourage this from happening. Plants are very tough, multi-stemmed and often thorny, so plant them in an area where they have the space they need and where they won’t need to be moved. Hardy Z4-8.
Diseases: Chaenomeles is in the rose family and has some of the same problems as roses. Aphids are often an issue on new growth and can be sprayed off with water or treated with a variety of insecticides. Leaf spots are fungal and can be avoided with improved air circulation and by watering the soil, rather than the foliage. Quince leaves can burn in hot afternoon sun, and if they do, defoliation is likely - the plant will typically rebound and is unlikely to die from this.