The Flowering Quince
Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Article written by Deb Delahunty, Horticulture teacher, Wodonga TAFE
The Japanese Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles) is a deciduous or a semi-deciduous shrub. The height varies depending upon the species and can range from about one metre to three metres. The most attractive feature of this plant is the prolific number of flowers that appear on the bare, leafless branches. These flowers create a brilliant display in the late winter when there’s not much else to get excited about. I must admit that I still think of late winter as Daphne time, yet these two plants are both popular, the Daphne grown for its perfume and the Chaenomeles grown for its floral display. The flowers last a few weeks and depending on the variety you can have specimens that flower pink, red, white, orange/red and shades in-between.
After the flowers the plant produces greenish/yellow fruits which ripen in the autumn. These fruit are edible but are too bitter to be eaten straight from the plant – they are usually cooked and used for jams and pastes.
This plant will grow in full sun and part shade and is considered to be hardy and easy to grow. It grows well in most soils as long as the drainage is moderate to good. Often described as indestructible this plant is a great choice for a colourful winter ornamental and even as an informal hedge. This plant can be a bit thorny – so keep it away from locations where you can accidentally contact it, it’s not an ideal plant to have on the edge of a pathway.
You can grow this plant by seed but cuttings take well. Take cuttings of your Chaenomeles during summer or autumn and use new season's wood. Layering is also a very successful way to propagate this plant, just lay a branch (while still attached to the plant) on the ground and hold it down with a peg or a rock. You can nick the plant with a sharp knife where the branch meets the ground, and then all you do is wait. This layering method can take up to twelve months to produce roots.
There are quite a number of different varieties available – ‘Winter Cheer’ has scarlet/red flowers, ‘Vermillion’ has orange flowers, ‘Apple Blossom’ is pink and white, ‘Nivalis’ is pure white and ‘Columbia is red. There are other colours to choose from, all are gorgeous.
The Agriculture/Horticulture Department at Wodonga TAFE has a range of short courses available in the near future. Courses include Quad bike training, Operate side by side utility vehicles, AgVet Chemical Users Course and Chainsaw training. For more information ring 1300 MY TAFE (1300 69 8233) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: A Flowering Quince in full flower on the grounds of Wodonga TAFE, simply stunning.