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Flowering Quince for Early Blooms

In my Alabama garden, Flowering quince, or Chaenomeles, begins blooming in January on leafless stems, and the blooms continue for at least two months. In cooler regions, blooming begins later, in February or March. The brilliant blossoms are always a welcome harbinger of spring.Sometimes my blooms get zapped by hard frost, but more flowers quickly appear. Edible 2" fruits follow the blooms, though they are seriously sour-tasting. The fruits do make good jelly, however.

Not only is this the first shrub to bloom in my garden each year, but it also is among the most durable of my shrubs. When we moved here in 1985, we found several quinces buried under weeds and vines on a hillside next to the drive. I was alerted to their presence by the colorful blooms that peeked through the brush.We decided to move them to a better location. It wasn't an easy transplant. They apparently had been on that hillside for a very long time; their roots were deeply embedded in the clay and almost hopelessly ensnared by their environment. We hacked out as much of them as possible and moved the shrubs to an area bordering the front lawn. Released from bondage and with better soil, they have flourished ever since with minimal care. Once established, they have proven to be drought-resistent. One year they were attacked by white flies, but they responded well to a good spray of horticultural oil.

Chaenomeles speciosa is a deciduous shrub that grows from 5-10' tall and wide. A spiny tangle of branches makes good hedges, screens and security barriers. After blooming, it is not showy, but its mass of green leaves provide nice structure for the garden.

Flowering quince will grow in USDA hardiness zones 4-9 in a wide range of soils, though it does best in slightly acid, loamy soil. It needs full sun for best flower production, but it will also grow in partial shade. 

Chaenomeles japonica and various hybrids are also available. Some of these lack thorns, are fruitless, or are smaller in habit than speciosa. Different varieties produce blooms in shades of red, pink, salmon, orange, or white, and some are noted for their gorgeous double blooms. Use cut branches for beautiful indoor flower arrangements.

Flowers are produced on the previous year's growth.To promote flowering and maintain shape and size, prune in spring after flowering is finished, removing some of the oldest branches down to the ground and cutting others back by a third or more, staggering cuts to maintain a natural appearance. Then apply a layer of compost or else use a slow-release fertilizer.

Flowering quince is a wonderful plant for wildlife, providing both food and shelter for birds and other critters. It is noted to be deer-resistant. 



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Reader Comments (19)

Another shrub that I've always admired! Local garden centers sell these shrubs here but they're marginal to my area at best so I've never invested in one. I do love the lovely coral pink color of the flowers, though.

January 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

I planted an orange one last fall. It is nowhere ready to bloom yet.

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhillip

Quince is one of my old time favorites - always a bright spot in gray January & February days.

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChristi {Jealous Hands}

I planted one of a similar colour to yours two years ago; it is growing only very slowly but I look forward to its blooms. Your large specimens are gorgeous.

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

This looks very like the one I have flowering by the back door. Some years it starts flowering in November, but this year just started this month. All the middle section died last year, but thankfully there are plenty of other stems to carry on flowering. Lovely shrub to have at this time of year.

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

I miss the one we had in Porterville. My cuttings failed. It was a rich glowing coral, much admired!

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

This is such a beautiful bush. I have several and really enjoy the early spring blooms here in the Pacific Northwest in Washington. I've also noticed the hummingbirds love to build their nests in the branches. That just adds to the beauty of these bushes in my eyes.
Thanks, Betsy

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBetsy

How lovely! I do miss this spring flowering shrub, I am just a little bit too far south for it. Beautiful pictures, as always :-)

January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGone Tropical

Beautiful! Hope to add some to my garden soon :)

January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

I love this shrub Deb and your photos of it are really beautiful! I don't have many shrubs that have that lovely spring "look" to them here. Perhaps I should look into it and see if I can't stretch its zone just a little bit! Always good to find something the deer don't like too!

January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

Such beautiful flowers! I just planted a flowering quince in my garden last year, and I look forward to seeing the early blooms this year. Anything to see some earlier signs of spring here after long winters, though so far this year it's actually been rather mild.

January 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

Beautiful pictures. We have a small flowering quince, but it doesn't look very healthy, and it never has fruit.

January 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Flowering quince in January--ah! That would be nice. We have some beautiful white "flowers" falling from the sky today, but, alas, they are very cold. Thanks for sharing the warmth and bright colors of your warmer garden. :)

January 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

I am a huge fan of Chaenomeles. They are wonderful plants. I have had older plants which fruited, but the ones here are much younger. I am just wondering about training a couple against a wall - perhaps as goblets? I haven't tried it with them before, so it might be a very silly idea!

January 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Shoesmith

I believe that quince's flowers are beautiful, elegant and classy! Unfortunately, we don't have space for it. Thank you, Deb, for the pics and comments!

January 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTatyana

I love the flowering quince. In my garden, I planted three orange flowering quince. I don't think they really bloom much until early April, but I could be wrong. I'll have to check my notes. Regardless of when they bloom they are colorful, and easy care, too.

January 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

They're so lovely, and their flowering brightness is welcome on yet another gloomy winter day. It's been mild this winter, but the price we've paid for that mildness has been constant gray skies.

February 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

Such a beautiful plant!

February 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Chaenomeles is one of my favorite early flowering shrubs. You captured the delicate flowers beautifully.

February 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

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