Flowering quince

Flowering quince scientifically known as Chaenomeles speciosa is one of those plants that gardeners don’t always agree on.

Some people love these deciduous shrubs for their red, pink, salmon, or white flowers which open from late winter into very early spring and often herald the end of cold weather.

Flowering quinces can encounter a few problems in the garden. Watch for scale insects, mites and aphids, as well as diseases like apple scab and cedar-quince rust.

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Some pests, such as aphids and mites, can be dislodged with a spray of water from the garden hose or by spraying with horticultural soap or oil.

Check with a garden center or extension service for advice on treating specific diseases that may affect your plants. If you see signs of leaf blight, rake up and dispose of infected leaves as soon as they drop, and prune out any dead branches.

Today, most American gardeners who are growing Japanese flowering quince do so for the spring blossoms.

The bright flowers erupt into bloom in March or April in vibrant shades of pink, white, orange or red that only last a few weeks. Some cultivars offer a few flowers again in autumn.

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Various species and cultivars exist, but the common flowering quince plants are most commonly planted. Common Japanese flowering quince shrubs grow to 10 feet tall and equally wide.

They are thorned plants, so they serve well in a defensive hedge or along a property borderline. Although the fruits of flowering quince plants are edible, the fruit is very tart. You can make a jelly from the quince fruit, or simply leave a fruit in the house to provide a piquant fragrance.

Flowering quince is an adaptable, easy to grow shrub that does best in full sun. It is tolerant of dry soils, but can develop chlorosis in high pH soils. Periodic pruning improves bloom. Old canes and suckers can be removed every year.

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Shrubs can be pruned back to about 6–12 inches above the soil. Pruning should be done immediately after flowering since flowers are borne on the previous season’s wood.

Problems include its susceptibility to apple scab and fireblight. Scale, mites and aphids can also be problematic. Because of its twigginess and thorns, leaves and garbage can collect in the plant and cause an untidy look.

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