Double Take Scarlet™ QuinceChaenomeles speciosa ‘Scarlet Storm’ (PP# 20,951)
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Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Scarlet Storm’ (PP# 20,951)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Double Take Scarlet™ Quince is an upright deciduous shrub with thorn-free stems. The glossy, bright green leaves make the 6 foot tall shrub a good summer background, but it is in late winter and early spring that it is in its glory. The large, 2½-inch blooms of bold scarlet are fully double, with many petals like a small rose. The cluster all along the bare branches, even to their tips, and making a fabulous display. Grow it as a garden shrub, a hedge, or trained to cover a wall or fence.
Grow the Double Take Scarlet™ Quince in full sun for maximum bloom and color. It is tough and almost indestructible, growing in any well-drained soil, from sand to clay. It is drought resistant once well-established, and usually free of pests or diseases. Some simple pruning is spring will give the best results, and no other care is needed. This is a new, improved version of a classic heirloom garden shrub.
Spring is often a time of yellow or white blooms – lovely, but perhaps we could use more punch? You certainly get that with the Double Take Scarlet™ Quince, which has amazing large double blooms in a passionate scarlet color, produced for weeks in late winter and early spring. Easily grown spread out on a sunny wall, or as a rounded shrub in your beds, this wonderful new variety revives an old favorite, the flowering quince, which was once a standard item in every garden, but fell from favor more than 50 years ago. Now, thanks to some talented plant breeding, it is back again in a new, improved version that had us all doing a double take when we first saw its beauty. The 2½-inch blooms are much larger than in traditional varieties, and with their richly-colored ruffled petals they are simply stunning. You will love how easy this bush is to grow, and we can’t forget to tell you that it doesn’t have any thorns, so pruning is easy, and won’t be a blood-stained experience as it can be with older varieties.
The Double Take Scarlet Quince is an upright, rounded deciduous shrub with many branches, forming a dense mound about 6 feet tall and wide, and growing even taller in time if it isn’t pruned. These plants are known for their notorious long sharp spines, but this variety doesn’t have those, so you can safely plant it anywhere, even where children play. The smooth, reddish-brown stems make an attractive support for the flowers, which come before the leaves. The leaves are about 2½ inches long and 1½ inches wide, with a smooth, glossy surface, a fine serrated edge, and a bright green color all season.
Blooming can begin as early as Christmas in the warmest areas, but February is the more usual time in warm zones, and March to April elsewhere. The flowers develop as clusters of buds on the branches, and this variety is unusual because it flowers right to the end of the branches that grew the previous year, rather than just at their base, as most varieties do. The flowers are exceptionally large, and up to 2½ inches across. They have up to 25 petals, compared to the 5 on ordinary flowers of this plant, and those petals are broad and full, making a bloom that looks like a small rose. Their wonderful bright scarlet coloring really glows in your garden, and it creates a big splash of color. Flowers can stay attractive for up to 3 weeks, depending on spring temperatures, because this variety cannot produce fruit, so the petals are held for much longer.
This easy-care plant is a great addition to your shrub beds, and it pulls the season of interest forward into early spring, just when you are dying for winter to be gone. It is perfect behind or among later-blooming plants, and also in semi-natural settings, where it will be a bright touch that won’t look out of place. We also suggest growing it on a wall or fence, where it makes an easy espalier shrub, needing only tying in and basic pruning. It can also be turned into a great flowering hedge by planting in a row 4 feet apart.
The Double Take Scarlet Quince is very tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and conditions, growing just as well in zone 5 as it does in zone 9. The flowering will be earlier, the warmer the zone.
The Double Take Scarlet Quince will grow best in full sun, and against a south-facing wall or fence is perfect. This is a tough and reliable shrub that will grow in any well-drained soil. It will tolerate clay, and also drier soils once it has become established – water young plants regularly during summer.
Pests or diseases are very rare on the Double Take Scarlet Quince, so it stays fresh and green all summer. Some fertilizer on young plants is helpful, and richer soil will give stronger growth. It can be left to grow naturally, but it is best to prune it immediately when flowering is over. For free-standing bushes shorten back long shoots and once it is older remove a few branches low down to encourage new strong growth. Plants grown as espalier should have the shoots from the previous year cut back to just a few inches long after blooming, and pruned again in late summer to shorten back long growth, tie in new stems, and trim back outward-growing branches.
The flowering quince, Chaenomeles speciosa, comes from Japan, and it is different from the true quince, Cydonia, a plant with large yellow fruits. Also called ‘Japonica’ it was once thought to be a kind of pear tree, and it has been grown in the West since 1796. There were once hundreds of different varieties and it could be found in every garden. Around the middle of the last century it began to be seen as ‘old-fashioned’, but this century there has been a revival of interest in this useful plant.
Dr. Thomas G. Ranney is a Professor of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University, and a little before 2000 Don Shadow, a well-known innovative nurseryman, gave him a rare, spineless variety of quince with dark red double blooms, called ‘Dragon’s Blood’. That plant can’t make fruit, but its pollen is good, so Dr. Ranney used it to pollinate an old single red variety from 1949 called ‘Spitfire’. Among the seedlings he was able to raise were several with double flowers in different colors and with thornless stems. One stood out for its bright red blooms, and he named it ‘Scarlet Storm’. It was patented in 2010 in the name of the University and it became Double Take Scarlet™ when it was propagated and distributed by the Proven Winners™ brand.
We are really having trouble choosing our favorite among the Double Take Quince varieties, so check out the Pink and Orange ones too. In the end, though, you and we might decide that the stunning Double Take Scarlet Quince is the one, but order now, because great new plants like these never stay around long.