A plant for all seasons…

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Whether as part of a hedge on a historic estate or as a specimen shrub at the entrance of an architecturally modern home, the flowering quince is one of the more versatile plants in the landscape.

Best recognized as a harbinger of spring, Chaenomoles speciosa spends most of the year as a shrubby tangle of branches with non-descriptive foliage while providing a haven for birds and other small wildlife.  This makes it an ideal choice for a hedge at the edge of your property or along a fence line as an accent or as a cover-up.

Considered an heirloom plant by many, the “old school” quince has a history more far reaching than your grandmother’s backyard.  Bred in the East for many centuries, flowering quince has been used by the Chinese for thousands of years to celebrate the New Year and makes an excellent choice for the art of bonsai.

Here in Virginia, branches can be snipped and arranged in a vase to force the blossoms to bloom indoors adding early spring cheer to any table.

Another remarkable quality of quince is its ability to repeat bloom after heavy pruning.  Try to recognize the natural habit of quince and resist the temptation to “round it off” too severely.

The quince fruits range in size from about one inch for ‘Orange Delight’ to the size of an apple for ”Toyo Nishiki’.  Toyo Nishiki is a popular cultivar with pink, white and red blossoms on the same plant.  All of the fruits are edible and wonderfully fragrant, though they must be very ripe to release their perfume.  This usually occurs in late fall after being soften by a few frosts.

Flowering Quince Highlights:

  • Botanical name: Chaenomeles speciosa
  • Hardiness zones: 4-8
  • Height: 6-10′ (equal width)
  • Type: deciduous shrub
  • Bloom times: early spring
  • Fruits: yellow-green, like apples and sometimes pink and red
  • Considered the heirloom plant
  • Repeats bloom after heavy pruning
  • Can bloom indoors
  • Extremely versatile

 

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