Compact, early flowering shrubs with jam making potential from fruit in autumn make these plants well worth cultivating.
As I think you can now imagine Chaenomeles make good and often under utilised shrubs and small trees in the garden landscape. Varieties vary from 3 feet to 12 feet in height. I grew my plants from seed supplied by the Royal Horticultural Society in the annual seed distribution.
Growing Tips for Quince
Ornamental Quince also known as Cydonia are shade tolerant. For hedging the thorns make for a good security feature.
Shrubs may look a bit scruffy but are great when trained on a wall.
Against walls they should be spur-pruned like apple varieties to produce a heavier crop of flowers and fruit. In other formal situations, it should be treated as any other early-flowering shrub and pruned directly after flowering to encourage new growth on which to flower the following year. They only need light pruning.
The fruit of the common quince, Cydonia oblonga Vranja, has the best flavour for cooking.
The flowers are a good source of early nectar and pollen for solitary bees.
Chaenomeles are generally vigorous and suffers little from pest and disease problems.
Varieties to Grow
Chaenomeles speciosa were the first species to be grown in the UK. Chaenomeles japonica arrived at the end of the 18th century. Some of the best varieties are hybrid crosses between these two species.
Chaenomeles speciosa varieties like white flowered ‘Nivalis’ remain popular but the leave tend to cover the blossom. I like the light pink ‘Moerloosei’ and ‘Eximia’ an old variety with pinkish-red flowers, dating back to the 1880s.
Chaenomeles x superba ‘Crimson and Gold’ has a well deserved AGM
There are some interesting new varieties where breeders have gone with pink and orange varieties like C. x superba ‘Pink Lady’ (AGM) or C. Rowallane a larger blood red with spreading habit.
“The white-flowered Chaenomeles x superba ‘Jet Trail’ is a lovely ground-cover plant.
Chaenomeles x superba ‘Tortuosa’ is a very distinctive variety that makes another good ground-cover option – stems grow all over the place.
Chaenomeles x superba ‘Rowallane’ AGM, which tends to be lower growing and ideal for covering a bank or low wall.
Under the red flowered quince you could do worse than grow the greeny gold Euphorbia robbiae.
Clematis alpina makes a good foil with its small flowers and constrained growth habit.
Growing against a wall or as a standard leaves many options open for companion plants.
I think the flowering Quince family deserve to be more widely grown.