Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles) Plant Profile

A very intriguing plant is flowering quince. You’re not likely to find it in any landscaping, yet it’s a favorite among many gardeners.

Many people dismiss flowering quince in their landscaping because it gives ten days to two weeks of stunning beauty while in flower and then it becomes nondescript. That’s why it’s so intriguing.

History of Flowering Quince

Although this plant is not native to the United States, it’s highly adaptable. It’s native to eastern Asia, Japan, and China. Actually, if you think about it, Japanese art has a lot of flowering quince in their artwork usually using the white or pink flowering quince.

Somehow this plant made it across the ocean to America and early farmers discarded using the plant, but women saw the beauty in its striking flowers and the fruit it bears to make jams and jellies.

Although all quince shrubs will flower, the plant has been given the name ‘flowering quince’. It was originally known as Japonica and you may still hear some people call it that. Its Latin name is ‘Chaenomeles Speciosa‘ or ‘Superba‘. These are the two species flowering quince that you’re most likely to see.


Plant Description

Flowering quince is used today as an ornamental or specimen shrub. There are several varieties but most grow 2-10 ft. tall and about the same width as their height. They are a round-topped shrub that needs full sun and they’re not usually picky about their soil. The more sun they get, the more flowers they’ll have.

This shrub does have spines or sharped edges on it so you do have to be careful when pruning it or transplanting it. It was originally used as a hedge but then yews and boxwood were discovered as a more attractive plant for a hedge.

Flowering quince bears a very hard fruit that has an unpleasant taste but is used to make jams, jellies, and liqueurs. It has more pectin than apples which makes it great for canning purposes and it also has more Vitamin C than lemons. Birds are attracted to the fruit.

What’s The Attraction?

The addiction to flowering quince is easy to explain. This shrub blooms in late winter to early spring about the time that crocus start blooming. For those of us that live in cold, wintery regions and become desperate for signs of Spring, the flowering quince is the only shrub that takes center stage. Among the white snowflakes on the ground, this shrub bursts into colors of salmon, pink, red, or white. The bright salmon color is the most popular and the most striking against the snow and bare trees. The flowers bloom even before the leaves emerge.

After the flowers fade on this shrub, the leaves emerge as a maroon-green color and the shrub becomes nondescript. It’s best to place this shrub somewhere where you can watch it bloom from your windows, but not in the garden. After the blooms, it’s unfortunately, not much to look at.

Caring For Flowering Quince

A big advantage of this plant is that it’s very hardy and long lived. It may actually outlive you and your children. It requires little maintenance, just some pruning and sunshine. Regular watering is fine and you can take cuttings to grow more quince for yourself or the neighbors.

Varieties of Flowering Quince

The traditional flowering quince is the ‘Speciosa’ with bright salmon colored flowers. This specie grows to 10 ft. tall and about the same wide. The ‘Speciosa’ makes a great border plant between your property and the neighbors.

The ‘Texas Scarlet’ has become very popular and it’s a small shrub usually not more than 2 ft. tall and wide. It has bright red flowers and it flowers longer than most quince. It also has less thorns.

‘Cameo’ is another popular variety with pink blooms and it grows to 5 ft. tall and wide.

‘Jet Trail’ has white blooms and is another low-growing shrub. This shrub is usually about 3 ft. tall and wide.

No matter which variety of flowering quince you have in your yard, it’s one of the first signs of spring as you wait with anticipation for this shrub to bloom year after year.


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