The Flowering Quince Tree (Cydonia oblonga)
Long ago in ancient times the flowering Quince was everywhere. They were said to have been growing before the apple tree. Since then they have died off and are rarely seen any more.
They love full sun and can be grown in just about any soil type, clay soil, dry soil, they are a pretty hardy tree once they are established. You can even grow them on a slope to help stop soil erosion.
The birds love them the quince fruit which is edible if cooked. If eaten raw the fruit is very stringy and the skin is tough which will give you a sore jaw.
Cooked into a preserve for jams and jellies, they are very sweet and taste delicious.
You can grow a Quince tree in a container but it’s not very common. They are usually grown in the ground as some varieties will get very large. However, if you do want to grow one in a container to set on your deck or patio, it’s best to pick one that doesn’t get very large.
They will need to be watered more often in a container and apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer in the spring for the best blooms.
The flowering Quince tree blooms on old wood, so the best time to prune is right after they are done flowering. However, if you do prune it after flowering, you will be cutting of the fruit as the flowers turn into fruit throughout the summer.
If you wait until after harvesting the fruit to prune it, you will lose some of the flowers for next year.
My recommendation would be to only prune the Quince tree very lightly and only trim the tips when they really need it.
Most Quinces, if not pruned, look like shrubs as they are multi branched. If you want to grow it as a tree, you will need to prune off the lower limbs and have only one leader branch to grow into the canopy of the tree.
This tree also grows from suckers but they can be easy to prune out if you don’t want more Quince growing.
There are a few pests and diseases that might affect the Quince tree but they are Deer and rabbit resistant. Below is a list of pests and diseases to watch for.
Aphids (Aphidoidea) – Are small soft body insects that feed on the sap of the plant. Read how to get rid of these pests on your Quince Tree.
Scale (Coccoidea) – These insects have a hard coating over them that make them blend into the stems of the plant. They look like small round circles on the stems that are harder to get rid of then other bugs. Using Neem oil will help in controlling them.
Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae) – Small white cotton like bugs that like to suck the sap out of the plants. Read more about Mealybugs and how to control them here.
Codling Moth Caterpillars (Cydia pomonella) – These little caterpillars borrow into the fruit of the quince tree and eat the flesh of the fruit. The only way to control them is to bag the fruit about a month after the flowers are done and take the bags off just before you are going to harvest it.
Brown Rot (Monolinia spp.) – A common fungus that affects Quince trees and other stone fruit. It attacks the blossoms and the fruit and will overwinter on mummified fruit that is left on the tree and on the ground and also on infected twigs. To rid your plant of this disease, prune out any infected areas of the tree and clean up areas around the tree of fallen debris.
Leaf Blight (Diplocarpon maculatum) – A common fungus that will make the leaves turn brown and fall from the plant. You will notice small brown circles on the plant and they gradually get bigger until the entire leaf has turned brown. The tips of the plant will also die back and the fruit will become distorted. Prune out infected areas and dispose of the material into the garbage. If the disease is bad you can apply a copper fungicide in the fall and spring.
Fire Blight (Erwinia amylovora) – Quince trees are susceptible to fire blight which causes the leaves and flowers to have a scored look and will cling to the tree. Prune away any infected areas and also any debris that is on the ground. Applying a white vinegar solution will help rid the tree of this disease.
Powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca fuliginea) – If you see white or brown fuzz on the leaves of your plant it will be powdery mildew, a fungal disease. It’s most common in the spring when the nights are cooler and wet. To control this disease, prune the Quince tree to open up the plant to allow air circulation and clean up the area under the plant of dead leaves and branches. You can apply a fungicide to stop the spread.
Quince rust (Gymnosporangium clavipes) - If growing near a cedar tree or Juniper tree might get infected by rust. The spores of the rust can travel about 2 miles so controlling is a little difficult. The only way to get rid of this disease is to prune out the infected branches. Spraying the branches in spring with organic sulphur can help in preventing rust.
The best way to propagate the flowering Quince tree is through stem cuttings. Learn more about stem cuttings here.
It is also possible to grow them from seed and from layering.
In late winter after the plant has been dormant for a couple months, you can cut off some branches from the Quince tree and bring them indoors. Put the stems in a vase of water and within a week or so you will see it start to open up and the flowers will emerge.
If they don’t flower they might not have had long enough dormancy and you could wait a couple weeks and try again.
There are many ways you can use the flowering Quince tree in the landscape, here are a few: