Thursday, April 7, 2016

Plant Feature: Flowering Quince

Just as modern parents are now giving their children names that were popular decades ago, the trend towards nostalgia has caught on in landscape as well. Old-fashioned flowering plants -- in delicate blush tones, pale lavenders, and corals -- that conjure memories of your grandmother’s garden are once again in demand. One such plant that blazes to life in the spring landscape is Flowering Quince.

The species itself is a large, hardy shrub with a mounding growth habit and dense blooms that range in shade from scarlet to red. These abundant flowers burst out along bare branches in the early spring before leaves begins to grow. New foliage comes on in a deep bronze-red color that later matures to glossy green.

Texas Scarlet Flowering Quince
Historically planted in hedgerows, as a barrier, or espaliered along walls, Quince is a relatively low-maintenance landscape shrub. The species has thorns as well as hard, small fruits that attract birds and wildlife. These fruits taste bitter to humans when eaten directly off the plant, but lend themselves well to jellies and preserves. This overlaps with yet another trend of the last decade -- edible gardens and home-grown food production.

In recent years new cultivars like Double-Take Orange Storm Flowering Quince have been developed to maximize blooms and eliminate less desirable traits, including thorns and fruit, which can be messy. These modifications, along with more compact growth habits, make them more compatible with the contemporary landscape while evoking the beauty of past eras. Among the newer plants, blossoms are single or double, and span the spectrum from light pinks to peaches and corals to fiery reds.

Double-Take Orange Storm Flowering Quince
Flowering Quince prefer full sun, but can tolerate dappled or part shade. They are relatively drought-tolerant and adaptable to most soil conditions. As is often the case, cultivars may be more delicate than the species.

Bloom-laden branches make wonderful cut flowers.  Shrubs should be pruned to shape after flowering, as necessary.

USDA Zones: 4-8
Bloom Time: Early Spring
Fall Color: ---
Approximate Mature Size (HxW): 3x5

Planting Instructions: Dig the planting area well, incorporating organic material as noted on planting details. Dig the planting hole three times as wide as the root ball; ensure the planting hole is deep enough so that the crown of the new plant lines up with the existing grade or slightly higher (DO NOT PLANT LOWER THAN EXISTING GRADE).

Care Instructions: Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Watering should be reduced after establishment. Prune to shape / control size.

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