Quinces are small, irregularly shaped trees growing to
about 15 feet tall that are often used as rootstock for dwarf pears. They
bear white or pink showy flowers at the ends of leafy shoots in spring.
The flowers are susceptible to winter injury at temperatures below about
-15° F, but trees are hardy in Zones 5 to 9.
As they mature, trees take
on an unusual gnarled form. Foliage is deep green and pubescent underneath,
turning yellow in fall. Fruits are very fragrant and are commonly used
to make jelly.
Harvest fruit -- a good source of pectin -- when they are golden yellow.
Don't confuse these quinces with several other quince-like
species grown for ornamental purposes. There are many varieties of Japanese
quince (Chaenomeles japonica) and common flowering quince (C. speciosa,
C. lagenaria), attractive shrubs bearing showy pink, red or orange flowers
in early spring.
Most of these ornamentals produce fruits that are hard and nearly inedible,
though they have a high pectin content and are occasionally mixed with
other fruits in jellies and preserves.
Quinces prefer a fertile site in
full sun. They are slightly more tolerant of wet soils and drought than
apples, but will fruit more reliably on moist but well-drained soil.
Flowers need cross-pollination
for good fruiting. Plant in a protected area as quinces respond
poorly to rapid changes in temperature and exposure.
were once grown extensively in New York, pest problems limit its use today.
Flower bud injury, fireblight, borers, codling moth, curculio, scale and
tent caterpillars can all cause problems. To avoid fireblight, do not
use excessive nitrogen and keep pruning to a minimum. Thin out suckers
in winter or early spring.
Although quinces are attractive and have interesting
fruit, you may need an aggressive maintenance program if you use them extensively
in your landscape. 'Angers', 'Orange', 'Pineapple', 'Champion', and 'Smyrna'
are generally available in the trade.
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