Apple Blossom QuinceChaenomeles speciosa ‘Apple Blossom’
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Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Apple Blossom’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Apple Blossom Quince is a deciduous shrub with many branches, carrying short spines. It grows into a wide-spreading bush up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet or more wide, and it is also often grown in walls or fences, or as a hedge. It has glossy almost round leaves, and flowers in winter and early spring on the bare branches, with showy clusters of cup-shaped blossoms that are pink on the outside and white inside, like over-sized apple blossoms. It produces fragrant rounded fruits like hard apples that make excellent jellies and preserves. It is a wonderful shrub for early color in your garden beds, and becomes a gorgeous wall shrub with some simple training
Plant the Apple Blossom Quince in full sun. It is hardy in zone 5, growing well and blooming earlier in the year in warmer zones. This tough shrub grows in most garden soils, preferring good drainage and richer soil, but tolerated drought and dry soil well. Deer and rabbits don’t touch it, and it has no significant pests or diseases. When grown on a wall or fence it should be pruned immediately after flowering and again in late summer.
Spring is a magical time of year, and we wait so patiently through the cold, dark days of winter for its arrival. That magic is seen most dramatically in those plants that bloom on bare branches, because the flowers stand out in all their glory, without being hidden among the leaves. Once incredibly popular, but today sometimes overlooked, flowering quince, once called ‘Japonica’, expresses that glory of blossoms on bare stems most dramatically, with big bowls of glowing beauty clustered all along its smooth mahogany stems. The Apple Blossom Quince has gorgeous blooms that really do look like over-sized apple blossoms when the pink buds open to show their white interiors. A plant in bloom, which can be before February, is a sight we can never tire of. The fragrant fruits that come in summer are worth the work for the rare and delicious quince jelly they become, a treat not to be missed. So what if the summer is just green leaves, and ideally this plant needs some regular pruning? That wondrous spring display makes it all worthwhile.
The Apple Blossom Quince is a spreading deciduous shrub with many branches, naturally growing wider than it is tall, but often grown against a wall or fence into a taller and narrower wall-shrub. The size varies with how it is pruned, but if left to grow naturally it can be 4 to 6 tall and 6 to 8 feet wide. The younger stems have a smooth, dark reddish-brown bark, turning rougher as they age. There are inch-long spines on the stems, with a sharp tip. The leaves are 1½ to 3½ inches long, oval to rounded, with a saw-toothed edge, and they are smooth, glossy and bright green.
The flower buds develop in clusters along the stems, and in warm areas, or grown on a warm, sunny wall, they may begin to open even before Christmas, and often in February. In cooler zones late March and into April is more normal, and blooming is spread over several weeks, with the cooler days keeping the flowers fresh for a long time. The dark-pink buds open into a bowl-shaped blossom 1½ inches across, often with several blooms in a cluster open at the same time. The inside of the petals is white, occasionally with a very pale yellow tone to it. Some flowers have 5 petals, and others have more, making a semi-double flower. The center of the bloom is decorated with a cluster of golden stamens.
As the last flowers finish the new leaves arrive, and by late summer you may be greeted with clusters of pale green to yellowish apple-like fruits, about 2 inches across. These are strongly fragrant, and a bowl of them will scent a room. They are very hard and inedible when raw, but they can be cooked into a very delicious fragrant and tangy jelly for toast or even with cold-cuts.
There are several different ways to grow the Apple Blossom Quince. You can plant it at the back of a bed, or at the edge of a wooded area, and let it grow naturally. Cut some branches and bring them inside in a vase to open their blooms and gather the fruit for jelly. To really show off the flowers, many gardeners grow it against a sunny wall or fence, and it can be trained so it grows around the windows of your home. This method does need some regular pruning. It can also be grown as a hedge, trimmed to different heights as needed.
The Apple Blossom Quince is hardy in zone 5 and grows well through all the warmer zones, including zone 9, where it will bloom the earliest.
This bush enjoys a position in full sun, so grow it in a south-facing site, which will also encourage the earliest blooms. It is tough and almost indestructible, growing easily in most garden soils, including clay, but preferring a balanced loam soil that is well-drained. It is moderately resistant to drought when well-established.
The Apple Blossom Quince is rarely bothered by pests or diseases, and both deer and rabbits avoid it. The only maintenance needed is pruning, especially if grown against a wall or fence. As soon as blooming is over, shorten back the stems to a main framework of branches. Prune again in late summer, removing any unwanted branches, and shortening outward pointing ones. On older plants new strong growths should be tied in and some older stems removed completely, as needed to keep your plant vigorous.
Once called ‘Japonica’ and put in the same group as pears, the flowering quince is also not the same as the true quince (Cydonia) which has larger yellow fruits. Today known correctly as Chaenomeles speciosa, this plant was incredibly popular in previous centuries, and hundreds of varieties used to exist. The variety called ‘Apple Blossom’ was created in America, around 1930, at the Leonard Nursery in Piqua, Ohio, but only released for sale in 1937 by W. B. Clarke Nurseries in San Jose, California. It is often incorrectly thought to be the same as an older variety called ’Moerloosii’, which was developed by Maurice (?) de Moerloose, a plantsman from Ledeberg in Belgium sometime before 1856.
We love being able to offer this great plant, and we know that this overlooked shrub will be a big hit in your garden the moment you see those gorgeous beckoning blooms. This easy and versatile plant deserves a revival, so join in and order now – don’t wait, because our stock of this highly-regarded variety is very limited.