522 Chaenomeles speciosaCommon Names: Japanese quince, flowering quince Family: Rosaceae (rose Family)
This ugly duckling of the garden spends most of the year as a shrubby tangle of branches and nondescript foliage. However, for a brief few weeks in late winter to early spring, it transforms into a ravishing beauty. Flowering quince is a deciduous shrub growing from 5-10 ft (1.5-3 m) in height and about as wide. The simple leaves are arranged alternately on the stems which are typically thorny and densely tangled. Very early in the season, the bare branches are adorned with brilliant 1.5-2 in (4-5 cm) blossoms. The Japanese have worked for centuries identifying preferred selections and creating hybrids of flowering quince that bloom in shades of scarlet, crimson, rose and brilliant red. This is a very popular garden item that is frequently planted. There is white tinged with pink and pink tinged with white and white tinged with lemon and, well.. you get the idea. The hybrid flowering quince, Chaenomeles x superba, is a cross between C. speciosa and C. japonica and it also is available in a range of colors and flower shapes including single, semi-double and double. The shrub produces a hard greenish-yellow round fruit that is about 2 in (5 cm) in diameter.
Chaenomeles speciosa, the flowering quince, is native to eastern Asia. In particular it is believed to be native to Japan where it its beauty has long been appreciated.
CultureJapanese quince is easy to grow in any soil although slightly heavy soils are preferred. Light: Bright sun or partial shade. Moisture: Average water. This shrub is drought tolerant. Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 - 9. Propagation: The species can be propagated by seed. Named cultivars are propagated by cuttings or layers. They may also be grafted onto the root stock of the species.
Use flowering quince in mixed hedges and borders. It also makes effective security barriers and hedges by virtue of the thorny dense tangle of stems it produces. It can be espaliered against walls. Quince is also one of the most popular species for creating deciduous bonsai specimens.
This shrub is justly famous for the beautiful flowers that it produces at a time of the year when little else of interest is happening in the garden. Depending on the zone in which it is grown, flowering occurs in January in the deep south and late February or early March in more northerly climes. Branches cut in the winter can be forced into bloom indoors. This is not the edible quince, which is a related species of the genus Cydonia but delicious marmalades and jellies can be produced from flowering quince's hard aromatic fruit.
Steve Christman 11/25/98; updated 1/19/06