Cameo QuinceChaenomeles x superba ‘Cameo’
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Chaenomeles x superba ‘Cameo’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Cameo Quince is a twiggy deciduous shrub growing 4 or 5 feet tall and wide, with almost-thornless branches. In early spring the bare stems are covered in a profusion of beautiful peach-pink double flowers like tiny roses. These are followed by apple-sized green fruits that make delicious, fragrant jellies. The healthy green leaves keep it attractive through the summer months. Grow it in the front of shrub beds, as a low hedge, in semi-wild areas or tied up against a wall or fence.
The Cameo Quince blooms best when growing in full sun, especially in cool zones. It will bloom in zone 4 when grown on a sunny wall. It grows in all soils, from dry sands to hard clay, and it is free of pests, diseases, and it’s deer-proof. Prune in spring as soon as blooming is over, and trim lightly in late summer for neatness. An easy, reliable and beautiful garden shrub.
Although spring is a wonderful time for flowers in our gardens, some spring shrubs soon become unattractive once flowering is over. One that doesn’t is the beautiful Cameo Quince, which follows its spectacular spring display with a summer of handsome glossy foliage that keep looking good, free of pests, mildew or other unsightly problems. Not that it isn’t worth growing just for that spring blooming, because the gorgeous soft-pink double blooms look like small roses, full of charm and beauty. It blooms before or with the leaves, so they aren’t partially hidden from view, and a wonderful thing to do on a cold late-winter day is to cut a branch and bring it indoors to enjoy the blossoms opening within a few days. Plus, the large greenish-yellow fruits that often develop over the summer might seem hard and unappealing, but they make the most delicious quince preserves, with a great flavor and wonderful scent.
The Cameo Quince is a shrubby deciduous bush that grows between 3 and 5 feet tall and wide, with a dense, twiggy habit. The red-brown stems have a smooth, glossy bark, and only the occasional spine will be found hidden among the leaves, making pruning much easier. The leaves are around 2 inches long and 1 inch wide, with a very fine serrated edge and a smooth, glossy surface. The foliage can be relied upon to stay green and clean all summer, always looking attractive, making this a good background shrub for plants that bloom later in the year.
This is one of the earliest blooming shrubs in the garden – a little later than some other quince, and so a good way to extend their season – but still early. Blooms begin to show in the first mild days of late winter, and through March or April, depending on your zone. Even young plants bloom profusely, and you can rely on this shrub to put on a wonderful display. Blooms form on the bare twigs, just before or with the first leaves, and they are very showy. Each blossom is around 1 ½ inches across, with many petals, making a dense double bloom that opens like a miniature rose. We can argue about whether the color is apricot-pink, coral-pink, peach-pink or salmon-pink, but whatever we call it, it is truly a beautiful color, delicate and yet striking, perhaps like the inside of some seashell. By February the flower buds are ready to open, just waiting for some warmth, so if you cut a branch and put it in a vase it will soon burst into bloom, like something from a Chinese scroll painting.
After blooming the flowers develop into irregular, rounded fruits the shape of an orange, about 2½ inches across, with smooth pale green skin that ripens to yellow flushed with pink. They are hard and sour, but they can be cooked into delicious, fragrant preserves and jellies.
With its low, spreading habit the Cameo Quince is great for the front of beds in your garden. In any wilder part you can let it go, in a more formal area it can be trimmed more to keep it neat. It can also be used to make a low hedge to about 4 feet tall. Some people find quince too untidy, and if that is you, consider training it against a wall or fence. They will grow taller when tied in like this, and they bloom extra-early, and flower better in cooler zones when protected like this. Grown around windows and doors they make a great feature – try it, you will love it.
This is a great spring-blooming shrub to use in your beds, in any style of garden. Let it grow naturally in sunny, semi-wild parts of your garden. Trim it a bit more and it is perfect in the most formal setting. Quinces are often trained onto walls and fences, and they really thrive when grown that way, as well as turning something harsh and ugly into something beautiful. Because it blooms on older shoots you can trim it as a hedge up to 4 feet tall and still enjoy profuse blooming.
The Cameo Quince is fully-hardy from zone 5 to zone 8, and grows in north-western zone 9, and in zone 4 when grown against a sheltering wall, or when protected by deep snow.
It is best to grow the Cameo Quince in full sun, for abundant blooms and fruit. It will take a little afternoon shade in the hottest zones. It thrives in literally all soils, from clay to sand, but not in wet or boggy soil.
No regular care is needed when you grow the Cameo Quince. It can be left to grow more or less naturally, and pests or diseases are rare, with deer also leaving it alone. For a smaller, neater plant, and for training on walls, prune as soon as the blooms are finished. Cut back stems from the previous year to a couple of inches long to encourage the development of short branches full of flower buds. Longer summer stems can be trimmed too, as needed, in late summer, without affecting the blooming of the following spring.
This plant is not the ‘true’ quince, which is Cydonia, with larger, yellow fruits. The jelly from the Cameo Quince is just as good, though. Back in 1796 the plant Chaenomeles speciosa was introduced to Europe from China. In 1869 a similar species, Chaenomeles japonica, was brought from Japan. In 1898 a hybrid between them was described with a different name, and later, when it’s true nature was realized, it was named Chaenomeles x superba. It has all the best features of each parent, and it is tougher and more vigorous. Numerous varieties have been bred from it, and the one called ‘Cameo’ was created by Walter Clarke, of Clarke Nurseries, San Jose, California. It was first listed in their catalogue in 1956, and it has been an enduring favorite ever since.
Most Quince have single flowers – beautiful, it’s true, but not as charming as the Cameo Quince. So this variety is always sought-after, and our stock won’t last long. Order now.