Flowering quince is a beautiful spring blooming deciduous shrub that is relatively easy to grow but often not so easy to find! It has glorious flowers,
often single but sometimes double, that burst out along bare branches in the early spring before the new foliage begins to grow. The colorful flowers can be deep crimson, rose-red, coral, white, and various shades of pink and may appear singly or in clusters along the branches. Andre has many beautiful cultivars of flowering quince in his extensive display gardens.
Flowering quince forms a broad-spreading mound of dense, spiny branches. The angular branch structure and delicate flowers provide an oriental look to the garden in the spring. The new foliage is a lovely bronze-red color which matures to a glossy green. Small apple-like greenish-yellow fruit ripens in the fall. The fruit has a wonderful fragrance and in many cases, can be used to make jelly or preserves.
Depending on the species, these shrubs can be grown as a single specimen, as a hedge, and even espaliered against a wall. Flowering quince prefer full sun but will do well in part sun or even all day dappled sun. They are adaptable to most soil conditions.
Flowering quince is really a one-season shrub. It is spectacular in the spring when in bloom but is rather insignificant in the other seasons. It is important to keep this shrub from becoming too dense and scraggly by pruning it each year after it finishes blooming in the spring. Quince flowers on old wood so no major pruning should be done during the dormant season. Some thinning can be done in February to provide branches for forcing indoors. Flowering quince is great for this purpose and can be forced into bloom very easily.
Thinning after the flowers fade is the best way to keep the shrub from becoming a tangled mass of branches. This also improves the bloom for the following spring because it encourages the growth of new wood which will bloom profusely the next year. Cut some of the oldest stems back to the ground and remove any weak stems or suckers. Prune out crossing branches and some of the interior branches to keep the center more open.
To rejuvenate a scraggly, overgrown shrub, you can cut the whole shrub back to within 6" of the ground. This should be done in winter when the shrub is dormant. You will sacrifice the blooms for that spring but you will be rewarded the following spring with an exceptional show of flowers. The other option is to remove a third of the oldest stems each winter for three years. That way you will always have some blooming wood and after three years you will basically have a brand new shrub that blooms well.